Terracotta Army Of Peace In Santa Cruz

Fri, April 17th, 2015 - By Colin

The ill informed often bemoan the lack of culture and art in Tenerife but the truth is the island likes to celebrate not only it’s home grown works but also large international works. La Mujer de Terracota (Woman of Terracotta) is a “female army of peace” created by renowned sculptor Marian Heyerdahl that has reached across the world from the shadow of the iconic 210 BC Terracotta Army created for Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang at Shaanxi province.


Mujer de Terracota, an exhibition by Marian Heyerdahl


After opening in Beijing in 2007 the life size clay sculptures have wowed Seoul, Stockholm, and Milan before something of a homecoming for the artist that created them. Marian Heyerdahl was born in Oslo but has staged several art exhibitions at the Piramides de Guimar, a popular historical park founded by her father Thor the famous explorer who crossed the Atlantic on the Kon Tiki raft.


Mujer de Terracota, an exhibition by Marian Heyerdahl


My first sight of the female warriors was in the downstairs hall of the Caja Canarias Fundacion building in the heart of Santa Cruz, the colours and postures of the figures were eerily lifelike but it was only when I started exploring the other two floors of soldiers that I began to appreciate the message behind them.

On a large screen Marian Heyerdahl explained in English (with Spanish sub titles) their birth. “I visited the Terracotta Army in Shaanxi and after the initial impact I realized they only showed the male view of war, I wanted to show the suffering and sacrifice of the women and children. I first bought a large replica General from a nearby factory and began to adapt the clay figures after they came out of the plaster moulds. The long tunics resembled skirts and I remodelled the faces, upper bodies, and hands to make them female.”


Mujer de Terracota, an exhibition by Marian Heyerdahl


It certainly worked well. Pieces like The Unborn Sorrow, Mother Of All Wars, and Don’t Touch My Home, made a big impact with their facial expressions looking ready to blink into life, and their pleading, expressive hands were equally effective. The Silent Scream with terracotta heads behind bars and The Little Angel with a caged figure helped to underline the theme of oppression. Marian wanted an element of surprise as from behind the figures look male, the twist comes from a front on view.


Mujer de Terracota, an exhibition by Marian Heyerdahl


It’s a hard hitting subject and the works are powerful but compelling, helped by the subdued lighting and the many smaller alcoves and rooms that provided new surprises as I worked my way through the three floors. Tenerife is fortunate to have such a venue to compliment TEA – Tenerife Espacio de Las Artes a few streets away and also the many art galleries of La Laguna.

Previous art exhibitions in the Caja Canarias Fundacion have not allowed close scrutiny or photos but there are no such restrictions here, many of  the information panels in English and Spanish are besides or just behind the works to encourage visitors to explore different views of the figures. Another bonus is this exhibition is totally free to everyone. The main body of the soldiers is on the ground floor, the daylight streaming in adds to the spell of the creator, it’s an exhibition that will challenge, disturb, and delight in equal measures and is quite a coup for Tenerife culture vultures.


Mujer de Terracota, an exhibition by Marian Heyerdahl


La Mujer de Terracota by Marian Heyerdahl; 14 April to 25 July 2015; Caja Canarias Fundacion, Plaza del Patriotismo; Santa Cruz, Tenerife; open Monday to Friday 11 am to 2 pm and 5pm to 8pm, Saturdays 10 am to 2 pm, Closed Sundays. Entrance free.

Posted : Friday, April 17th, 2015 at 11:44 am
Category : days out
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