Mallorca is full of interesting people and Andrew Maclear is certainly one of them. A photographer who started out in Sixties London, and currently living in Fornalutx on the North West coast of Mallorca, he talks to me about his love of the island and his charming venture the Association Calatrava 1 in the old town of Palma. Excited to meet him Andrew his business partner Dag Daram, I go along to one of their events – a delightful soup and wine evening.
Upon entering the gallery through its large blue doors, I find my way to the kitchen where Dag greets me and a busy Andrew is sampling and cutting local cheeses onto plates with figs and grapes – all of which looks so delicious I resist the urge to try some myself. Andrew invites me to sit as he carries on with his tasks in hand, Dag brings me a glass of red and we begin.
How did you end up living in Fornalutx Andrew?
I grew up in London in the swinging 60s and a friend of mine from Amsterdam told me to check out Deiá in ‘74 so I went and whilst I didn’t quite connect with it I ended up buying a small village house in nearby Fornalutx after finding the village by accident and am very happy I did. I reformed the property and have lived there, on and off, for 30 years.
What do you love about Mallorca’s North West coast?
It’s incredibly beautiful and the landscape is remarkable, and relatively untouched. (Andrew has also lived in London as a photographer, Paris as a screenwriter for Sony Columbia and in LA and New York.) Whenever I drive along the coast through Deiá, Soller and up to Fornalutx I realise this is as majestic as any coastal road in the Mediterranean.
What do you love about living in Fornalutx?
I like the topography and the people. Despite the influx of a Northern European community, of which I am part, it is still very much a Mallorcan village and has evolved without developing and pretentions. No big hotels or celebrity culture. It is a relatively uncontaminated part of Mallorca. There is still farming up there – fruit and lamb, almonds, olives, lemons.
What else do you like to do on the island?
I like shooting the landscape, I produced a book of black and white images of Soller, published by Franz Krauz who created Fet a Soller and I write for travel magazines about Mallorca.
Did you consider buying a house in any other part of Spain?
I have looked a lot around the north of Spain and there are very inexpensive areas but then you would know no one and have to start again. It’s a little hard to get into Mallorca life due to the nature of their culture but I’m used to the structure here and know enough people now, which isn’t that many, but I prefer it that way!
The Mirador above Fornalutx has spectacular views. The oldest village restaurant in Fornalutx, Ca’ n Antuna, has been run by the same family for 50 years and is still good. It’s all very Simple mountain food – rabbit, pork, lamb. In Palma I like Las Olas which has Jewish Cambodian tapas, a rarity. And I also like Ca’n Nofre, a small family run place in Calle Manacor.
I wonder, as Andrew is busy stirring and heating various pans on the stove about his background in cooking and restaurants?
I had a restaurant in Brighton when I was 26 in ‘78, sort of French English. It was pretty bad food (he laughs). But the room had a nice feel and if you have that and can raise the culinary standard – you´re getting there.
He has certainly emphasised the importance of mood in the interior of the gallery which is a beautiful space – simple, black and white, and elegant. Dag explains to me that it was once a car garage, and before that a stable. Crisp white walls are covered with Andrew’s large black and white Sixties portraits and a square wooden table, perfect for twelve, sits in the centre. The kitchen (where the magic happens!) is out of view to the back right
With that thought we are all seated and I’m excited to try the food. The soup is delicious and I wonder where the produce comes from?
As far as possible, from the Pere Garau, one of the oldest markets on the other side of the Avenidas in Palma. It’s an ethnic community, cheaper and much better than other places and really beautiful buildings there. (I vow to check it out.)
Dag explains that the Association was set up to create to host events and dinners for its members and also as a space to exhibit Andrew’s photographs. They are both passionate about cooking and wine and sharing that with people is something they just love to do.
The maximum for a sit down dinner is 12. We want to keep an intimate feeling and cooking for more than that for a meal just isn’t fun. But explains they have had 40, 50 up to 60 standing and flowing out onto the street. Most people who come along live and work in Palma, all kinds of professionals from interior designers, lawyers, artists etc. We try and do something every week. I get the sense that it is really about quality and not quantity here and I really feel relaxed, as though I’m in someone´s home.
After second helpings of the pumpkin soup, the cheese plates arrive to the table (finally!) and as I turn to speak with other guests I gaze at the many faces on the walls- incredible icons all held in this little gallery in the back streets of Palma in Mallorca. I think how cool it is.. but without trying to be. And that’s beauty of Calatrava 1 and indeed this island.
If you would like to become a free member of Association Calatrava 1 you can visit the website here. The gallery hosts a permanent exhibit of Andrew’s 60’s images of London.
Interview by Gemma Rapkins email@example.com