September 21, 2015

Maria Rodriguez, El jardin/The garden

view from the beach

A house facing the beach in Guainos Bajos, part of Adra, a community of Almería in Andalucía, Spain, has a front garden which is fully decorated with structures embellished with seashells, shapely stones, plastic figures and various plates fitted with proverbs.

This is El Jardin, an art environment created by María Rodriguez (1936-2017).

Life and works

Her full name is María Ascensión Rodríguez Rodríguez. Born in 1936 she married in 1956 and had three children. All her life she was interested in art, which she gave way by collecting small sculpted items she bought in local shops.

 this picture and the next ones
by Eloy M. Muñoz Suarez

Around age 50, in the 1980's, this interest got a new twist when she began adding decorations to her garden, a plot of some 60 m² (646 square feet) that separates the house from the beach.

This garden became fully packed with Rodriguez' creations.

People who create shell decorated items in general use a cement mix to secure the shells. Maria Rodriguez prepared the cement herself by using sand from the beach mixed with cement powder and water. 

The base on which the shells and other elements were attached mostly had a pyramidal shape, which gave the collection its own characteristic appearance.

Rodriguez regularly patrolled the beach to collect additional decorative material, not looking for specific shells but just gathering what she encountered and what she liked..    

Plates with texts

Apart from a variety of self-collected sea-shells and other found items, Rodriguez` creation is characterized by plates that are provided with texts, such as proverbs, personal messages, warnings and other sayings.

Here are some examples:

No es mas sabio aquel que sabe muchas cosas 
sino aquel que hace muchas cosas con le poco que sabe 
The one who knows many things is not wiser 
then the one who does many things with the little he knows.

The text on the upper plate reads  

Pide a Dios que donde mires veas alegria
lo que toques sea amor
lo que sienta sea paz
y hacia donde camines sea la felicidad
Ask God that wherever you look you see joy
whatever you touch is love
whatever you feel is peace
and wherever you walk is happiness

The lower plate has a text that refers to a seat which is included in the structure: 

El que se siente en este sillon será bendecido por Dios
He who sits on this chair will be blessed by God

And finally this example

Mi felicidad consiste en que se apreciar lo que tengo 
y no deseo en exceso loque no tengo
My happiness is that I know to appreciate what I have 
and that I do not want  too much what I do not have

Maria Rodriguez passed away September 26, 2017. It remains to be seen what in the future will happen with her art environment.

* Article by Jo Farb Hernandez  on SPACES website
* Article by Roberto Perez, "María Rodríguez: una escoltura singular", in Bric-a-Brac (2018, nr 1)  
* Website of Spanish TV (August 2015) with video (cannot be embedded here)

* Video by picon39 (4'13", YouTube, January 2008)

first published September 2015, last revised July 2018

Maria Rodriguez 
El Jardin
Guainos Bajos, Almería, Andalucía, Spain
can be seen from the beach

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