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Arts & Crafts

Arts & Crafts

Many of Andalucia's towns and villages are the homes to genuine artistic treasures which the traveller often passes by unsuspectingly. These include paintings, sculptures, jewels, carvings and archaeological remains, all of which bear witness to the region's extraordinary artistic heritage, to be found in its cathedrals, museums, churches, town halls, monasteries and convents.

There are many fine weavers in Andalucia, although hand-operated looms only survive in remote areas, for the production of crafts articles for export, such as the wool blankets of Grazalema in the province of Cadiz, and "jarapas" (rugs coarsely woven with scraps brightly coloured fabric) of Almeria.

A move to Andalucia often means starting over in terms of decoration and interior design. Thanks to a new climate and the amazing natural light available in this part of the world, many who move here feel the desire to try on new colours and even choose new artwork to display in their homes and offices.

Metal crafts, and especially iron forging and copper and brass work have given Andalucia a special identity. Lucena, in the province of Cordoba, is Spain's centre for metal workers, and Seville is also highly regarded for its creative ironwork.

The marble and stone carvers of Andalucia are known for their traditional working of tombstones, pantheons and adornments. The carvers of Jaén are well known for their finely carved marble ashlars. There are many factories in the province of Malaga, such as the Colegiata at Antequera. There is a well known quarry at Macael in Almeria Province that produces marble which rivals that of Carrara in purity.

In the Middle Ages, the leather workers of Cordoba made the city universally famous for the high quality of their tanning and embossing techniques. Some workshops still survive which use the ancient methods, in both Cordoba and Granada, while leather goods are made all over the region (purses, wallets, belts etc.). One of Spain's best places for leather goods is Ubrique.

The traditional crafts in Andalucia owe their heritage to all people from different cultures that have settled here over the ages. The legacy of the Tartessians, the Phoenicians, and the Greeks, Romans and Arabs covers a vast spectrum of techniques and styles that are still alive in Andalucia's traditional crafts.

The guitar and Spain go together like hand and glove. In fact, Spain was the birthplace of the modern six-string guitar, it being based upon a similar Islamic stringed instrument. The guitar is the multi-voiced accompaniment of choice in the art of flamenco and it adds so much to the emotion and spectacle that fuels this passionate gypsy music.

Traditional gold and silversmiths producing religious articles are still very active in towns of the region such as Granada. The craftsmen are famous for their work, for which they draw inspiration from the city's highly varied cultural and historical background. Cordoba, however, is the leader in gold and silver work, producing 60% of Spain's jewellery, in a vast number of tiny workshops, each with their own designs and techniques.

High quality glassware has been made in Almeria since the 13th century. There exists an excellent workshop in the fishing village of Roquetas del Mar. In Malaga Province, delicate Moorish patterns are wrought on glass, with glass cutting on blown crystal; there is also production of stained glass windows and Tiffany-inspired lamps.

The sturdy, rustic, traditional Andalucian furniture, is slowly disappearing, while today's cabinet makers are now producing more stylish, luxurious and ornamental pieces. The two styles are currently produced throughout the region, as well as classic types of furniture. Local techniques and woods give these pieces their own unique personality.

Andalucía is renowned for its magnificent heritage of art and culture. Throughout the region, there are museums, historical monuments and galleries devoted to this historical tradition. However, it is important to remember that it is a tradition that continues to flourish today with some of the finest painters and artists in the world exhibiting their work at galleries throughout the major cities.

From the cities to the sierras, the rolling inland plains to its long and varied coastline, Andalucía has a wealth of architecture. In prehistoric times the early inhabitants of Andalucía moved great boulders to shelter their dead. Great Roman cities and roads strode across the region, eventually paving the way for Al-Andalus and nearly eight centuries of unparalleled Moorish urban and agricultural construction.

Art and Art Galleries can be found in many forms throughout Andalucía, not only in private or municipal art galleries, but also in museums, cultural centres, historic buildings, churches and even in the open air. Andalucia is rich in an artistic culture that dates back to prehistoric times and much of the art and artefacts have been preserved and are on display to the public.

Slabs of oak doors, antique brass hardware, traditional Castilian sideboards and those wonderful dark wood chairs, upholstered in leather with brass studs. Spanish antiques are distinctive and decorative and can still be found at relatively inexpensive prices, although you have to be prepared to spend time searching for those real bargain basement pieces.

Painting for pleasure can become a very addictive pastime, and that's aside from the social side of classes, workshops, exhibitions, art societies etc. One of the most popular mediums for amateur artists is watercolour; a fascinating if unpredictable medium that has fascinated artists for hundreds of years. Watercolour can never be fully mastered or conquered.

Immortalised in street names from Almería to Vélez-Málaga and throughout the Spanish Kingdom , Francisco de Goya is cemented in the lineage of world art icons. CHRIS DOVE pays tribute to the painter whose work has unearthed a surprising new secret in an Andalucían pueblo, and who's interacting today with new audiences in cyberspace.

Museums in Andalucia: there are many interesting museums in Sevilla, Cádiz, Huelva, Córdoba, Jaén , Granada, Almería and Málaga, where we can learn more about history, art, architecture and more.