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Manuel Garrido Villalba

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Visiting Information

Adornments on the top of the perimeter wall are viewable from the street; if a family member is at home, they may be willing to guide visitors through the site.

About the Artist/Site

Although Garrido had little formal education and his early years were filled with a variety of menial jobs—he was a potter (for a time serving a formal apprenticeship in this vocation), a goatherd, and a harvester of esparto, the fibrous grasses widely used for a range of domestic and occupational functions—he seemed to have a special talent for nurturing plants. He carried this skill with him throughout his life, as he worked as a gardener and, later, as a forest ranger, safeguarding the national and regional forests of his homeland. He was always a prodigious worker, rising early and outpacing his co-workers with his energy. He was also a dowser, locating not only flowing streams and springs, but also lost items; in addition, he was able to diagnose illnesses, and he treated them with the herbs he grew.

And although he had never had any training in working with stone, he had wanted to do so since his early apprenticeship with the potter, so after purchasing land in 1974, building a house and planting gardens, he began gathering stones from the fields or from the ruins of old buildings. Inspired by their shapes, he began to chisel away at them, never sketching out in advance how the work would be developed. Using the simplest of picks, chisels, and mallets, his primary subjects were the birds, animals, trees, and human inhabitants of the plains and forests, as well as religious figures and several self-portraits. With his characteristic tenacity and massive capacity for labor, Garrido estimates that he created some 4,000 sculptures, all of which are installed and displayed within or on the high walls of his property. In addition to the freestanding works, Garrido used ladders and simple scaffolding to facilitate the installation and ornamentation of several monumental tableaux, building up three discrete monumental arches over the garden paths as well as ornamenting the rooftop and façades of his garage with a spectacular multi-layered accumulation of carved stone animal, plant, symbolic, and human forms. In about 2008, Garrido finally gave up working with stone, as it was becoming too hard for him as he aged. Nevertheless, he continues to carve wooden figures, and is making more time to care for his garden. Even as he slows down, he is doing more than many men half his age, and he is pleased and proud of the industriousness with which he has led his life.   

Adornments on the top of the perimeter wall are viewable from the street; if a family member is at home, they may be willing to guide visitors through the site.

Update: Manuel Garrido Villalba passed away on December 6, 2016. 

~Jo Farb Hernández

 



Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Villatoro, Castile and León, Spain
Latitude/Longitude: 42.374459 / -3.693387

Visiting Information

Adornments on the top of the perimeter wall are viewable from the street; if a family member is at home, they may be willing to guide visitors through the site.

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