Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Ceramics in Gran Canaria, 1

There are no many natural resources of clay in Gran Canaria. I am very fond about finding some local clay and to prepare it myself so to use in my work. But there is some clay which has been used to produce ceramic wares from the time of the first inhabitants of this island, some say they were of Berber origin. Their techniques and processes are still in use and well preserved by the practice of some of the Gran Canaria potters of today. Some play with the techniques and "bastardize" them producing amazing results, contemporary objects and artefacts. In other cases, the traditional practices and processes are religiously preserved. For example at "La Atalaya" there are a Museum and an open workshop dedicated to the memory of one of his famous master Panchito. It was not common in Gran Canaria for men to be involved in the production of ceramics. That did not stop Panchito, his house is today a museum and the visitor can see where and how he lived and worked as the workshop is contained within the house. Potteries used to be set up in manmade caves. The workshop was usually owned by the potter. The potters of La Atalaya were very poor they lived perched on the ravines near to the source of clay and other materials needed for their craft. There wes famine, war, isolation, as Gran Canaria besides being an island has a complicated topography.
I met really nice people at La Atalaya, and visited them a few times during firings and even helped in translating the information about the museum and workshop to a group of English visitors. My only problem to keep in touch and collaborate more often with them was their distance from Las Palmas where I was based. It was also difficult to fit my paid work schedule with that of the workshop opening times at La Atalaya.

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