They call it a “floating garden”, a paradise island.
With its sub-tropical climate, rich volcanic soil and extensive levada system, the hills and mountains of Madeira form a verdant landscape of terraces planted with crops, flowers and orchards that you will find growing in tropical, mediterranean and cooler climates.
I always thought bananas, mangoes, orchids only grow in tropical climates, and that agapanthus, hydrangeas and vines only thrive in Europe, but they are all growing here, in this botanical wonderland! It’s like every available land next to a house or building is planted with everything eatable, and the flowers are just there to add some aesthetics.
Truly, the Portuguese, in general, and Madeirans, in particular, are amazingly hard-working people. If everyone in this planet can plant with such passion as they do, nobody will ever go hungry.
This is a scene in the farms every morning. If not delivered to the market in town, these vegetables will find their way to the island’s hotels, restaurants, hospital canteens, etc
It’s something I noticed as soon as I set foot in the island.
In the capital city of Funchal alone, nearly all pedestrianized roads and practically every pavement are covered in mosaic exquisitely done in geometric or swirling patterns of black and white stones or sometimes just black pebbles. I see them, too, in driveways of private homes or buildings.
This kind of paving is truly of a Portuguese character, as Madeira was discovered and subsequently colonized by the Portuguese in the 1400s.
Walking thrçugh mosaic-decorated surfaces is like treading onto a canvas of art and I admire the men who worked laboriously on them. They are the artists, whose hands are so skillful, that sometimes I wonder how could they chisel those pieces of stones in such precised manner.
Just like a true art-lover, I got so fascinated with the myriads of designs that I started collecting them in the form of photographs for future reference. Indeed, having a garden with mosaic footpaths would definitely add style – and a Portuguese character to my home!
The ‘toboggan’ pattern which is a Madeiran icon.
At the Mercado dos Lavradores (Farmers’ Market)
~A house that bespeaks of a glorious past ~
But whatever happened to the family who lived here?
Such a beautiful place to be abandoned
and just left to ruin ~
But as we walked further up, we instantly realized the reason.
The promontory to which the house and other structures (above) is slowly crumbling down.
Even Castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.
I am an aspiring painter, not in a professional sense of the word, but someone able enough to recreate in exaggerated colours what I have seen from my travels, put the experience onto a large canvas that will find its honored place in my sitting room.
So that everytime I see paintings in art galleries, I get excited and try as I can to analyze the techniques of the skilled artists who created them.
But to get the opportunity to peek inside an artist’ studio is something I never even dreamed of as I always assumed that this sacred place of their artistic personalities are always hands-off to strangers like me.
So imagine my ultimate joy when I read a sign inside an Art Gallery in Funchal that says ‘You can come in to my studio” that I made a quick decision not to let the invitation pass!
Indeed, it was a chaotic place of an artist’ tools and accessories, smudges of acrylic paints, brushes and recycled jam bottles seem to be all over the place in whiz whaz fashion, but believe ti or not, I adored it instantly!
This place is ART in 4D form!
And it definitely gave me the consolation that I am not the only one who makes my room a tip everytime I attempt to paint at home! I even learned a tip or two that moment!
The artist is a Dutch who lives and works in mainland Portugal, according to his flyer which he kindly handed to me.
This is my favorite part of his studio! That in order to learn, one has to surround himself with the works of the Masters, start practicing their techniques until he gets to develop his own and eventually finds his own voice..