Even rain has its advantages. If it had not been quite so wet, we might not have sought shelter in the Monasteria de Santa Maria de la Cueva. As it was, we had a fascinating morning exploring the exhibitions of modern art housed within the monastery. It was a treat not to be missed.
A fourteenth century monastery
The monastery has had a long and varied history. Built upon a site that had been used for centuries by potters, it has variously been a Carthusian monastery, a temporary burial site for Christopher Columbus, and a barracks during the Napoleonic Wars. It then returned to its origins, being used as a porcelain and ceramics factory until 1982.
Finally it became the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, which today houses a number of contemporary exhibitions. But many of the features of the original monastery remain, creating an often stunning contrast between modern and mediaeval.
At the time of our visit, there were displays by a number of modern artists. The major exhibition was of the controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, including his famous Sunflower Seeds, formerly exhibited at London’s Tate Modern.
The modern sculpture makes an intriguing contrast with the mediaeval surroundings.
A number of Weiwei's works were made from porcelain, which seems appropriate here!
Walking through the old cloisters.
An original icon from the monastery.
As so often in Andalusia, there are Moorish influences in the design of the monastery.
We didn't entirely miss the rain, as some of the courtyards were outside!
The chimneys of the old ceramics factory are still visible.