It is impossible to mention Marcos José Martínez without also referring to his brand “De Madera y Mar”. In other words, an active firm in social networks which transmits its followers the result of a pamper wood-working. Mostly, of course, recycled wood, as it could not be otherwise with an Asturian who arrived looking for a few weeks of relax in Fuerteventura and who, 19 years later, has ended up settled in the north of the island. Concerned about the environment, at ease in his base in Lajares and seduced by Fuerteventura, Martínez is also the president of the Association of Creative Artisans of Fuerteventura and the Cultural Association Relajarte, which organises markets for artisans, and the artisan market of Lajares, of which Marcos is a founding member. In addition, De Madera y Mar sponsors Alba Gmedi, champion of Asturias under18.
I had been in Asturias for five years as a carver and with a craftsman’s licence. I was at a time when I wanted a bit of peace, sun and tranquillity, and one of the students in the workshop was from the Canary Islands. I asked her and she mentioned Fuerteventura.
I had no intention of staying at all: I just wanted to spend one or two months at the most, to relax. At that time there was a lot of work on the island, there was a need for workers, and a RIU hotel offered me well-paid part-time work, with good tips. Maybe, I said to myself, I will spend a year here and enjoy the good life. I took the job, did it for two years, and then spent a year in maintenance at a water park. In the meantime, I prepared myself to continue with my profession.
I think I am a very sensitive person and what I noticed on the island was a very pure, clean and wild energy, without the emotional burden of the misfortunes and wars that there have been in old Europe. You arrive here and you feel a kind of silence in your head that catches you. Of course, I have seen everything here: there are people who come here and get captivated by the island but there are also people who don’t want to look inwards, and the island throws them out.
I went round and round until I got into this. I studied to be a mechanic, but I realised that it wasn’t my passion. Then I went to work on sites, I did my military service and when I finished, when I was unemployed, I did a course in wood carving. It was a hobby, but then, with a European grant, I opened a Fine Arts academy. I had it for five years, but the carving was pulling me: I transferred the shop to my parents, and I started up again: I got my artisan’s licence, and here I am.
Well, I had a year and a half of training, with the carver Nacio Quirós. The truth is that my work in Asturias has nothing to do with what I do here. There, it was all dark colours, and a more traditional symbolism. Here, there is more painting, a lot of colour, volcanoes… it’s how the island inspires me.
I work mainly with recycled wood, solar electricity, ecological varnish and sustainable products. I have been trying to work only with recycled wood for years. I mainly use pallets. I used to work with wood that came from the sea, but now it’s hard to find. There are already so many people doing this… But well, it makes the sea cleaner too.
Yes, I volunteered, also a little bit because that way I take it on first and then someone else will take over, I guess we will rotate. It takes up a lot of time, there are a lot of projects, and above all it is a responsibility, because we represent a lot of people behind us. But we are very proud of what we are doing as a collective. And we will continue to carry more things forward.
One part of the association is very interested in promoting the workshops, and the other in product promotion. Now we take a step forward as an association, and we reopen a physical shop in Betancuria: it was a place that the artisans had, from the Cabildo, and with the help we have received and thanks to the new agreement we are going to be able to reopen it. We were also able to activate the online shop on the website.
We hope it will grow. The truth is that in my case I am quite concerned about running the networks and it works. The important thing is that we already have it, and it is an interesting platform, where you can find all of us.
The north of Fuerteventura was fortunately saved by the teleworkers and surf-loving digital nomads who kept coming. But the artisans had a hard time both in the north and in the south because the markets were closed; I was lucky enough to sell in several shops and managed to get ahead.