Through The Streets Of Uga
Staying In Fashion
Creativity Workshops
Territorial Acupuncture In Lanzarote
Farewell To ´The Writers´ Friend´, Sue Almond

It has been another busy week tilling the fields of arts and culture. As Lanzarote ladies look at new fashion designs and their children create new art in local workshops, a new book is published and an old friend of many of us leaves the island, after many years, to return home to the UK.

Through The Streets Of Uga

As we looked forward from the music and merriment at the Manrique stage a fortnight ago we had feared that life might seem a little tame after some of our wild nights of dancing on the beach. However, even though the musicians have packed away their instruments and moved on to new, glorious gigs elsewhere Lanzarote remains an island where there is always something to catch your eye and something else going on just out of your eye-line, as ´nothing and everything happens as one.´

Two weeks to the night since watching the wonderful Beni Ferrer on stage in Arrecife, we were walking along at the rear of a procession following the statue of San Isidro Labrador, as the priest and its carriers steered it through the streets of Uga and back to the church from which it had been brought. Fireworks crackled and exploded in the air overhead as a marching brass band played sombre music, leading the statue, as smartly dressed locals followed along, chatting away to each other as this symbolic pilgrimage was made.

It came at the conclusion of mass, in the town’s catholic church, delivered by a priest and several hand-picked volunteer readers. The homily seemed to be about the importance of family values and this was surrounded by occasional singing from La Coral de Yaiza.

We always enjoy listening to them, but tonight, more than ever, the musical arrangements and acoustics framed them at their best.

Once the statue had been returned to its normal place of standing in the church the families dispersed to various hostelries and many, with young children, headed to the adjacent fair ground.

Our ´famous five´ sat outside under a glorious moon, surrounded by hosts of local people, tucking into some good fried snacks and the odd glass of beer or wine, and just watched the local world go by.

However, so many similar arts and cultural events are placed on the calendar that we can only apologise to you that it is impossible for us to keep up with them all.

Events we were recently unable to attend even included a fashion- show !

Staying In Fashion

On Friday, May 17th, at the International Museum of Contemporary Art (MIAC) in Castillo de San Jose, the opening ceremony was held of the 2019 (second) edition of Lanzarote Fashion Weekend (LZTFW). The event was attended by the Cabildo’s President, Pedro San Ginés and international designer, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, a major protagonist of this new edition of LZTFW, as well as numerous representatives of the fashion industry including designers, models, and industry-influencers. We somehow received an invite as members of the ´specialized international press.´

After the opening speeches there was a parade in which models presented new collections by local creators, Oswaldo Machin, María Cao, Azu Vilas, Mosego, and marl fashion.

The agenda on Saturday, May 18th began with Lanzarote Fashion Performance, with the participation of three fashion designers, Macaronesia, Raquel Melián and Angel Cabrera.
The day concluded with the Grand Parade of Agatha Ruiz de la Prada in the Auditorium of the Jameos del Agua, where fashion, innovation, music and gastronomy blended into what we were told was a stunning exhibition.

It was perhaps a good job we were unable to attend, due to an event already on our calendar, because the press release and invitation carried a warning / reminder that the press could take only very brief audio-visual recordings of the Lanzarote Fashion Parade. The media representatives were promised that they would shortly afterwards receive photographs and a video link from the Cabildo de Lanzarote to enable them to deliver their stories. There was, also, a reminder that the creations by Agatha Ruiz de la Prada in Los Jameos del Agua, could only be attended by those with press accreditation.

I can understand the implications and the need for such press security, of course, as no designer wants their styles revealed to a world that can, these days, mass produce copies in a heartbeat. Sorry though we were to have missed the event, I do think I might have been terrified of letting something slip about colours, necklines or, hemlines and so might have revealed too much.

It is right, though, that such events should be carefully stage-managed as the show carries responsibilities to its organisers, in this case the Centres Of Art, Culture And Tourism, the Cabildo of Lanzarote and XXL Communication and also to its sponsors, like Tourism Lanzarote, Iberia Express, CICAR, Lanzarote Moda and the Princesa Yaiza Hotels, Arrecife Gran Hotel, Seaside Jameos Of Water and Costa Calero.

Creativity Workshops

Another event we missed would surely have had me riding a wave of nostalgia for my previous career of delivering arts workshops to young people in the UK. The El Almacén CIC recently held four such workshops that addressed different aspects of Cesar Manrique and the island.
This event also took place on Saturday May 18th when children aged between 3 and 12 years old participated in various workshops: one of these explored environmental issues, another looked at colour, a third considered the volcanoes of the island and the fourth looked at the ´wind toys´ that are such a big part of the Manrique legacy.

The environmental workshop was facilitated by Álvaro Guzmán in the classroom of the El Almacén CIC. He worked with the children on composition of mosaics based on microplastics of colours collected on the northwest coast of Lanzarote. He demonstrated many of the Manrique techniques that can be seen in so much of the works and murals by the late artist.

The workshop called I Colour, was offered to boys and girls aged between 3 and 8, and was delivered by LudiEduca. In it, children coloured on to blank sheets of black and white to help develop their imagination.

LudiEduca also presented the workshop on ´wind toys´ to children who recycled materials to create one of these toys to take home.

The workshop entitled The Volcanoes Of The Island´ obviously caught the eye of many young participants, as it was attended by around twenty children aged between 6 and 12. Using homemade materials and stationery, the workshop taught the children about various parts of volcanoes and what causes them to explode.

Organized by the Cabildo de Lanzarote, through the Department Of Culture, these family workshops were delivered free of charge.

Territorial Acupuncture In Lanzarote

Even though we cannot possibly catch every calendar entry of the arts and culture agenda, we have nevertheless covered a wide diversity on our pages, reaching all across the arts, from dextrous timple players, painters with the finest of brush strokes, singers born with the gift of a golden voice, sculptors with angels´ hands and dancers with grace and beauty. The art form we rarely mention is that which itself mentions all of them.

I view creative writing as that art form. To create poetry or prose that people remember all their lives and turn to in times of happiness and sadness, for either company or consolation, is surely the work of an artist. To write a melody that lingers forever with its listeners must take God-given artistic skills. There is a skill in telling a story that has its audience hanging on every word. There is talent, too, in writing facts in a way that encourages readers to assimilate the knowledge those facts impart.´

For example, a newly published, if oddly titled, book, Cesar Manrique: Territorial Acupuncture In Lanzarote, is the result of five years of intensive research on the architectural work of César Manrique. This doctoral thesis of over eight hundred pages, by architect Alejandro Scarpa, was officially launched at the International Museum of Contemporary Art (MIAC) on Monday May 13th.

The author defined it as the ´integration´ book, because it’s a global work that seeks to integrate the various ‘partial, fragmented’ works that exist of César Manrique.´ Also, according to Scarpa, the book seeks to integrate its different readerships: the scholar or academic who is well aware of Manrique’s work, the less well learned inhabitant of Lanzarote, who wants ´to know much more the artist’, and the non-resident who visits the island unaware of the work of the artist.

The book is therefore written in five languages, in order to reach the greatest number of visitors, and ´integrates all opposing views´ from numerous interviews conducted by Alejandro Scarpa in his research.

The work contains a guide of Lanzarote, a biography and all the architectural work of the artist and is illustrated with many photographs. A thousand copies are now on sale in the centres of art, culture and tourism (CACT), the Cabildo of Lanzarote and in the island’s bookstores.

Alejandro Scarpa holds a PhD in architecture, and develops his professional life between Madrid, United States, Italy. He currently lives in Paris, where he combines his profession of architect with various teaching sessions. In his first visit to Lanzarote in 2008 he became fascinated by everything that he believes ´brought this island, full of content, of beauty, totally different from what they had known before”.

He was more impressed when he discovered that all the architectural work of the centres of art, culture and tourism and the Fundación César Manrique had come “from one hand”. Scarpa discovered a genius unknown to him, of whom he not even heard of in the school of architecture of Madrid. This led Scarpa to undertake this research, now published in a book seeking to spread and disseminate awareness of César Manrique and his work.

This launch of the book was organized by the Cabildo de Lanzarote, through the CATC, and is part of the fruit of great efforts made over the last decade to bring together all the work of César Manrique.

Speaking at the event, the Managing Director of CATC Centers, José Juan Lorenzo said, ´this is one of the best gifts that will come out of the celebration of the centenary of the birth of César Manrique.´

This new book will complement shelves full of non-fiction titles, and we have also written on these pages recently about the launch of a new book by Larry Yaskiel, a former mover and shaker in the pop music industry of the sixties, who has lived over here for decades now and is honorary editor of the quarterly Lancelot magazine you will have noticed in the shops.

Larry’s new book is all about the six hundred years of important and sometimes coincidental links between Lanzarote and the UK. Between the book’s covers this history is told in both Spanish and English and is a fascinating read.

Larry’s work perfectly complements A Cultural History of The Canary Islands, a book by Peter Stone, which I read after seeing it positively reviewed, by Miguel, here on Lanzarote Information.

Here at all across the arts we also recently received a press release from The Cabildo about a book entitled The Cactus Garden; Nature, Art And Culture, compiled and written by Pascal Garbe. The author is described by The Minister Delegate Of The Centres Of Art, Culture And Tourism, José Juan Lorenzo, as ´one of the best known connoisseurs and experts in gardens and plants of Europe.´ Significantly, The Minister then adds that ´It is from this vast expertise that the book has been written !´

All this demonstrates that, of course, there are many genres, other than fiction, written over here on the island, both by indigenous scribes and by new residents from other countries. In a recent feature on these pages I described seeing Esterban Ramon Rodriguez Eugenio formally announced as an official historian of the municipality of Yaiza. He is currently working on a written history of the town since the creation of the desalination plant half a century or so ago.

Coincidentally, too, one of the several book launches I have attended over here was by Daniela Scimonelli, who happens to be my wife’s former yoga ‘professora’ and is currently her Shakti Dance instructor.

I first met Daniela nearly three years ago and featured her more recently in an article for Lanzarote Information only a couple of months ago. Dee and I attended the release of the launch of Daniela’s first Spanish language publication of her life-style book, Da Mas Vida A Tu Vida, originally printed five years ago in her own Italian language.

The event was held at El Alquimista, Calle Gongora 56, Arrecife and a group of about thirty people listened to Daniela deliver an insight into her philosophy on a life-style based around yoga and Shakti Dance.

The book gives tips on how to take care of your own ‘wellness’ via a holistic approach to physical and spiritual well-being and her explanations were all supported by an informative power point demonstration, followed by a question and answer session with her audience. To find out more about Da Mas Vida A Tu Vida run the words of that title together and put them into a www and .com web site address.

Among those new residents who have retired over here from other countries there are certainly writers, authors and storytellers who have contributed, at least in the English language, to the literary landscape.

I think, for instance, of Stan Arnold as one such writer, who has penned a trilogy of adventure yarns telling of his days as a musician in the UK. The mafia-style gangsters are instantly recognisable, the venues even carry that distinctive smell all music venues have the morning after and the dialogue rings true to character throughout the three books.

Farewell To ´The Writers´ Friend.´

Aspirant writers in English on the island, whether merely those who like to scribble impulsive work and then throw it away and start something new or those who have long been working on their novel-in-progress have, for many years, had the option of attending what must have been the longest-standing writing group on the island.

Until very recently Lanzarote Creative Writing Group has been run by Sue Almond, a retired school teacher from the UK, who is now about to return ´home´ with her family to spend time messing about on a boat on the English canals and waterways.

´I started the creative writing group in 2005,´ Sue told all across the arts this week. ´In our very first year, six of our members saw their name in print as the author of works for the first time in their lives.´

´Together, over the years, we have improved our writing skills, gaining confidence through writing exercises and practice,´ Sue says, before adding, ´We have met new people and enjoyed each othe’´s Christmas celebrations, birthdays and even weddings. We have enjoyed regular lunches and made lasting friendships and had fun. As a group we have presented occasional poetry evenings and have sometimes had guest speakers, usually published authors, at our weekly group meetings, and have found them to be a useful source of information and ideas.´

All across the arts can certainly attest to that, having interviewed one or two of Sue’s guest speakers for these pages in the past couple of years.

Isobel Blackthorne lives in Australia but having earlier lived here for a short while she set her first novel, The Drago Tree, in Lanzarote, and was both delighted and surprised when an Australian publishing house accepted the book.

Undertaking a short ‘world tour’ to promote it, she was accompanied, on her return to Lanzarote, by a female representative of the publisher, spending three weeks here (just outside Haria) giving talks at libraries, book shops and at Dickens Bar for LCWG, where the group met each week in Costa Teguise. The novel was something of an anti-corruption mystery thriller and she gave an insightful talk and responded enthusiastically to the many questions from the members.

That was more than two years ago now, and I recently read an on-line article, with great interest, telling how the publishing house had since re-launched Isobel’s book as a travel guide, and it was now a best seller in that genre, mentioning as it does several off the beaten track and well known Lanzarote locations.

The Drago Tree can be spotted in most book shops over here. Fascinated as I was by her talk, and by an in depth interview I conducted with her for UK radio, it was another professional author who later gave a reading that stunned me to silence.

I had been warned, and should have known better, but when I arrived at LCWG for a talk by Karen Ricks, for whom English is a second language, I was the only guy to turn up among a dozen or so ladies. As Karen spoke about, and read passages from, her ‘lesbian erotica’ novel I learned more from that session than any male creative writer could ever wish to know. Joking apart, although a real psycho-drama, hers was a superbly written novel of human insight.

Sue describes herself as having been the ´co-ordinator´ of the LCWG and says, ´I have been a qualified teacher for over twenty years, and have invited people to share that experience. I was also a judge of professional theatre, a lifetime scribbler of both prose and poetry and, most of all, an enthusiastic lover of words, language, stories and poetry. My writing group was always the highlight of my week.´

The group boasted a chapter of fine writers and as their facilitator, Sue was a far more gentle mentor to her aspirant writers than I ever was when running my own such groups in the UK. I had managed weekly classes in three different metropolitan boroughs for many years before coming over here, and was somewhat reluctant to now become a ´student´ again. However, Sue made me very welcome from the outset when I joined within a fortnight of arriving here on the island. It was a fun company to be part of, and there was, often, great hilarity. Sue always set interesting topics to stretch our imagination, based on our life stories. Because we are the sort of people we are, well-travelled and reasonably courageous to have embarked on the journeys we have, there were some fascinating revelations. Many ´Wondrous Stories´ were told.

I’m sure there are many writers on the island who are immensely grateful to Sue for all she has done over the years and who, like me, wish her well on her return to the UK.

They will be hoping she continues to write her on line blog which has always been a useful tool kit for her many members. For writers looking for ideas and ways to fill that imposing blank page, Writers End blog site holds a host of suggestions, and for anyone who is already a member of a writing group, or indeed, who already runs one, there are plenty of ideas that can be used in group sessions. Importantly too, in view of her impending departure from Lanzarote, Sue has also ensured that her blog offers plenty of useful advice and ideas, all tested and proven by over a decade of leading Lanzarote Creative Writing Group.

With a couple of books of my own currently in progress, one a novel and the other a factual work on arts and culture here on Lanzarote, I’ll be making sure I get them down river to Sue, somewhere in England, so she can offer her always valued critiques. No doubt she will echo, kindly, previous criticism of my writing, made by others as ´portly pretentiousness.´

I hear, though, that other members of LCWG, less wordy than I, have books ready for publication later this year, that have certainly benefitted from their authors´ attendance at Sue’s writing group, and from authors visits to the Writers´ End blog site.

Those authors, and all those who have enjoyed the camaraderie and conviviality that Sue has engendered amongst her group for so many years, will recognise that she is, in writers´ terms, moving on to a new chapter and looking for new adventures. Sue has a gift of being able to identify the ´story´ in everyday life and can turn the most insignificant overheard remark, or exchanged glance, or a vehicle parked outside a closed sign on a shop door, into a matter of great intrigue and mystery.

Sue is an avid reader and a great story teller and has been a fine friend over here to those who admire such skills. Her new stories will be heard whispering in the trees of the rivet banks of the UK and rippling in the waters of its canals. All across the arts wishes her well in creating some new dramas to slightly disturb the peace of the English countryside.



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