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 Seville’s Contemporary Arts Centre. It was a treat not to be missed: exhibitions of modern art housed within the monastery.
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.
Exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Centre
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 medieval surroundings
A number of Weiwei’s works were made from porcelain, which seems appropriate here!
Walking through the old cloisters at the Contemporary Arts Centre
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