‘The simplest things in life can be free’
AFTER writing articles for 40 years, there are a few favourites which I would like to revisit over the coming months, and I begin high up in the Alpujarra Mountain Range in Andalusia, 2,500 metres up to be precise.
After a few hours in the company of Alpine swifts, and vultures I was about to descend to the delights of Nerja Old Town when I spotted a flash of cobalt blue among the stones.
At first I thought it was a blue-winged grasshopper but, it turned out to be a small piece of terracotta pottery, I think from a plate, a hand-painted sliver of history from a few hundred years ago, when Majolica earthenware was first made in Spain, and the glaze looked as fresh as when first applied. I’d put money on this having once belonged to a goat herder who spent his summers above the tree-line.
Nearby was the remains of a stone shelter, and sitting in the doorway, with stunning views towards the coast, I felt at one with the old goatherd.
In the best interests of research I asked some archaeologist friends what age they thought the piece was, and when they dismissed it as ‘modern’ I was slightly crestfallen.
However, all joy was restored when I realised that, by ‘modern’ they meant any time in the past three or four, or even 500 years.
So my imagined story stacked up. The name ‘majolica’ is thought to have come from the medieval Italian word for Majorca, although an alternative explanation is that the name may have come from the Spanish term ‘obra de Mallequa’ meaning lusterware, made by Moorish craftsmen from Malaga.
The term majolica refers to a certain type of
●● The piece of terracotta, and inset, a blue-winged grasshopper
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop