Ancient cave paintings from around the Campo de Gibraltar have been recreated to scale by artist Manuela Puerta and can soon be viewed at the Museum of Algeciras.
For those who are interested in discovering the Campo de Gibraltar’s pre-history and learning about local fossils, this exhibition will soon offer a fully immersive experience as you walk among life-size recreations of cave paintings which were made thousands of years ago by our ancestors.
And yet, with the rise in interest in “pre-historic” tourism in the area, conservation of these ancient art pieces in the wild, which are fragile and in desperate need of protection, becomes difficult.
A project called “Enhancement of the Campo de Gibraltar’s Rock Art” was recently announced which aims to support the conservation of this important prehistoric heritage in the region. At the same time, they will be providing information into prehistory through an initiative by illustrator and artist Manuela Puerta with the help of the Algeciras Culture department which is chaired by Pilar Pintor.
The Municipal Museum of Algeciras will soon be the host to these cave painting recreations and rock shelters of the Campo de Gibraltar which includes findings at Laja Alta in Jimena, Bacinete in Los Barrios and the Tajo de las Figuras in Tarifa.
The idea is to take visitors on a tour where they can admire some of the most emblematic scenery and recreations of cave art in Southern Europe and allow them to “touch and take a close look”, as if they were inside the caves itself and avoid damage to the actual site.
Up Close and Personal with Cave Art you can Touch
Pilar Pintor said that Manuela Puerta’s creations will allow the museum to present “to-scale recreations of cave paintings in the region, as well as the latest findings, that respect the original texture of the rock. They have been made on a rigid support using sandstone powder and resin which give relief to the figures and allows the public to feel the art and develop and understanding of this rich heritage as they interact with it.”
This addition of touch, and the added accessibility which the Algeciras Museum has, make this an even more exciting exhibition for those who suffer blindness and deafness.
The project will also be promoting “this interesting and exceptional heritage” to school children with fun workshops and cultural activities for schools, with the aim of “bringing this closer to the youngest in a fun way, promoting respect and feelings of collective ownership”.
Manuela Puerta warns: “You can only respect what you know … it is vital to get the younger generations involved and understanding the need to protect our collective heritage”.
Hopes of Becoming a World Heritage Site
The project could become a reality before the end of the year and has been supported by the Department of Culture at the Junta de Andalucía. Pilar Pintor and the museum director Rosabel O’Neill praised the project for its: “commitment to the recovery, conservation and enhancement of this unique piece of heritage that we have inherited from the first people who lived in the region”.
In March 2019, Pintor, who is also a deputy at the Andalusian Parliament, proposed at the Culture Commission of the Autonomous Chamber to have “the sites with cave paintings and engravings which have been found in Cádiz included in the Unesco World Hertiage list”, alongside those in the Campo de Gibraltar.
Pintor highlighted the “incalculable value of these artistic symbols” and the “importance of establishing a plan of action for the conservation and maintenance of these sites, in collaboration with other institutions and groups which work in the fields of preservation”.
She also stated that the need to “implement a plan that includes locations, access, state of conservation etc…, with the purpose of evaluating the risk levels of some of the caves in the extreme south”.
The Cueva de la Pileta, still unknown to most travellers and nestled within the Sierra de Líbar mountain range…