As seen by Norman Warwick
Marco Von der Thusen (left) is a self-taught artist and sculptor, born and raised in Yaiza and his art work closely reflects the marine life in the seas surrounding the small island of Lanzarote. Revealing his great environmental awareness, his current exhibition. of a selection of his work concerned with marine life, is currently on display in the gallery at Bar Café. La Antiguae Esquala in his home town.
On show are more than thirty three-dimensional pieces, made from different kinds of metal. These comprise a representation the island´s marine flora and fauna. The exhibition is intended to not only raise awareness but to sound as a call to action for mankind to make more and better use of our seas. the artists admits it is no conicide3nce that many of his models show marine life in skeletal form !
No two models in his work are alike, for Marco has no love of moulds. Instead, he creates each piece ´blow by blow´, the most difficult aspect of which is making the pieces fit the three-dimensional viewpoint.
Currently that part of his work dedicated to the marine world is on display in the gallery of the Bar-Café La Antigua Escuela de Yaiza. It is an exhibition with which he intends to focus on the importance of caring for our seas and the fauna that inhabits them.
Entry is free from 10.00 am to 5pm every Monday To Saturday. As you will see from our photographs, there is some interesting work on display here. Marco is an artist who asks some searching questions.
´The islands are very fragile and we live on tourism´, he reminded Yaiza Te Informatia recently. ´What are we going to offer the tourists if our sea is all full of rubbish?”
´My father is from Tenerife and my mother is German but I was born here and I grew up here, in La Hoya until I was 6 or 7 years old and then in La Degollada.
I’ve been away for a while too but I always came back, I felt like I was missing something. The way of the people, here, is more cheerful. People make contact with people… and also with the beach and the sea.
I love the sea, I am very fond of water sports and hence my interest also in protecting it. These fish skeletons (he shows us some of the works exhibited in Yaiza) are a protest and a wake-up call for us to take more care of our seas or else what we will find in it will be that, skeletons, and not in 100 or 200 years, it is very close already.
Most of these creations are representations of fish from our island waters, except for two or three tropicals that are a nod to my partner, who is from Ecuador, and a Napoleon fish, which is in danger of extinction and I wanted to include it because it is very difficult to see and many people do not know it. But the objective is to publicize the fauna of the Canary Islands, which is impressive, and create awareness so that we take a little more care of our sea, which is beautiful and we are carrying it with cigarette butts, microplastics, etc. The islands are very fragile and we live on tourism, what are we going to offer if everything is full of garbage? No one is going to come back.
My first jobs were for my mother’s shop (La Route des Caravanes) designing leather handbags but my love of art was really awakened with kite surfing. I competed in this discipline and the kites cracked a lot and it was very expensive to repair them, so for bigheadedness one day I bought a sewing machine and learned to fix them. Then I started making bags and backpacks for the old kites and then leather bags for the store. Here it was difficult to find material to compete and you had to look for life a little bit, so I also repaired the kite boards, which are made of wood, and from there I started making sculptures with wood and everything else came.
I am self-taught, I started with wood and at one point I wanted to make a sculpture that involved also working a little iron. As I knew two brothers blacksmiths by profession, I began to go to them to ask them to do certain things to me and one day they told me to enter the workshop and I started working it myself. That’s when I realized that metal has its character but in the end it allows you to do things that other materials don’t. I started with the smallest fish and didn’t stop anymore. I wanted to try more and here I am, learning every day.
Depending on where the work is going to be placed or the function it has, I choose one material or another. I work different types of iron because, for example, the easiest to mold is sweet iron, which does not contain much coal, but the problem is that if it goes outdoors it immediately melts with the serene, the sea … Then there is corten steel, which is the one they use on ships, which rusts but does not rot, and stainless steel but is very hard and costs more to work. There is combination of welding and forging.
The tricky thing about fish is their three-dimensionality. If they were flat it would be much simpler but, when making it three-dimensional, the complication is that the pieces fit together. When you see them some believe that they are made with molds but no, each one is different from the previous one, no two are the same, they are unique works, made blow by blow. And if you do it wrong normally you can’t rectify it, you have to discard the material, which is the bad thing. In fact most of the works exhibited here are prototypes. It is the first model I made, and if someone wants one I then make a specific one depending on where or how they want to locate it, whether interior or exterior, or hung or on a base. I adapt it the purchaser´s needs and use the mot appropriate material.
St the moment I´m also working on armour for a play, which is a very interesting job I´m doing with Esteben Cedres. I like challenges and experiments. I´m always doing new and different things and trying things out. Above all, I think its important for an artist not to simply stick with what he knows. For this exhibition I have even used moulds.
I did a large joint exhibition in 2017, with Dier Noss (another a Yaiza based artist) at the Convent of Santo Domingo in Teguise. It was during The Puerto Calero Fishing Tournament and I subsequently modelled several marlins.
A couple of recent scheduled exhibitions have been affected by the pandemic with one being cancelled, and the other postponed until a date can be rearranged. However, I´d also like work again with Dier Noss. which I would like to show in Yaiza. I have a couple of interesting projects in mind, for large sculptures, with lighting and movement. It will be a difficult project and will need a lot of space, particularly height.
Anyone interested can find me on facebook and on Instagram as Metal Art and Design Lanzarote or@marcovonderthusen
Whilst Marco is wisely raising his profile with exhibitions of his diversity, one of the most prestigious galleries on the island is offering help to other successful artists to similarly raise the profile of their work.
We have lauded The Lanzarote Art Gallery on numerous occasions on these pages. I have done so because of the high quality of the visitor experience to the venue, even in times of the pandemic. We have always admired the gallery´s ways of privileging the art through expert wall placement, sympathetic lighting and descriptive text, sometimes from the gallery and sometimes from the actual artist, that makes no effort to ínfluence´the viewers´ decision as to the quality or the subject matter of the piece, but always the information needed for the viewer to reach their own verdict.
It isn´t only the real-life visit that provides a great experience- So does a visit to their web-site, which is full of advice from The Lanzarote Art Gallery owner, Eduardo Farina, about the who, what when, where and why of building an art collection. The site includes in-depth details of previous exhibitions and a fascinating insight into each and every artist who has been involved with the The Lanzarote Art Gallery. There are also plenty of photographs of many, if not all. of the exhibits ever shown as well as of their creators.
At any communal event, such as an opening, at the gallery Eduardo is there to greet his guests, introduce the artist and to talk about the art. I know from own conversations with him that Eduardo has a special admiration of artists who are, to borrow my own title of this article, participating in engaged art. He has a lot of time for artists like Masqali, (left) who has used profits from sales of her own work to make lives better for homeless and disadvantaged children in Africa.
Now, a new project is being generated by Eduardo Fariña and Lanzarote Art Gallery in order to provide an online promotion platform to artists of different nationalities. The relevance of this initiative lies in the exceptionality of the times in which we live, and addresses the problem of how artists can ensure they still get their ´seen´ by as many prospective purchasers as possible.
To artists wishing to exhibit their work, the Lanzarote Art Gallery now offers an exclusive space to exhibit works, a unique virtual room, an interactive catalogue ,video, social networks in a fantastic and bespoke virtual gallery.
The Lanzarote Art Gallery offers artists the opportunity to present their work to a wide range of art lovers and national and international collectors.
Eduardo therefore welcomes the presentation of portfolios of talented contemporary artists, or their representatives, at all stages of their artistic careers. The portfolios will be reviewed by the director of the gallery, whose extensive knowledge of the art market will benefit artists seeking to promote their work and advance their careers.
The emergence of digital on a large scale is now an essential part of understanding evolution and new ways of consuming and admiring art. Art has been one of the latest markets to make the leap into the digital world, but more and more people are visiting art galleries online. An art gallery is a space for visual art exhibition; paintings are the most commonly displayed objects of art, but you also now look at them in a different way,…. virtually and literally.
My wife, Dee, and I have seen several such events and have interviewed some of the artists for these pages and have always been impressed by the quality of the art work. Call in at the gallery in Costa Teguise whenever you can,…but whenever you can´t take an intriguing 3-D stroll around the gallery´s web site, to meet established and aspiring artists from here on Lanzarote, and elsewhere around the world.
Artists and collectors can contact the owner via the web site at