‘The sim­plest things in life can be free’

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

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

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