Some of these sculptures look like they just came out of the water; others, that are about to submerge. All of them make us imagine the world of legends and marine adventures.
O Salnés region is known for its beaches, wines… and sculptures. Francisco Asorey, Leiro, Manolo Paz… are from there. O Grove is a place of reference, especially since 1990, with the first edition of the International Sculpture Symposium, which coincides with the Seafood Festival. In each call, the selected works become part of the artistic heritage of the city. Since 2011, the Open Air Sculpture Biennale has also been held. The raw material is always granite. On the Paseo Marítimo, from Punta Moreira, there is an assorted repertoire of figures looking at the sea. But one of the most unique stands on a rock on the urban beach of O Confin. It is made of granite, like all those in the area, by Manuel Rial, in 1993. It is called Maruxa dos portos, and represents the head of a woman on a kind of column twisted as a neck. The water covers her more or less depending on the tides, but it never reaches her head, which has a neck to spare.
A very recurring motif in marine sculptures is the mermaid. For example, on the Matadero beach in A Coruña, also known as Berbiriana, the bronze sculpture Mermaid on the Rock, by Márgara Hernández Smet, has rested since 1995. The tale says that a young girl who was drowning was brought back to life in the form of a mermaid. It could be said that it is a reminder of the dangers of the sea. The figure, with rounded and resounding shapes, is greeting the sun with one hand, as if to say “Hello, I’m coming” or “See you tomorrow”.
In San Cibrao, Cervo, in Mariña Lucense, there is another mermaid on a rock, made by Ángel Cao in 2006. She is in Penameá, on O Torno beach, looking out to sea with her tail curled up and a spindle in her hands. It is A Maruxaina who, according to legend, lived on Illa dos Farallóns spinning threads of gold and, when there was a storm, she would shout and blow her horn from the rocks on the beach. It was not clear if it alerted sailors to bad weather or caused shipwrecks with its song. It was good? Was she bad? Was she young? Was she old? Since 1985, every second Saturday in August, the legend is revived at the Festa da Maruxaina, in which the mermaid is captured in the sea and, once on land, is brought to trial to later be released and party with her.
In Cangas there is another bronze siren. She is standing on a piece of granite that represents the keel of a sunken ship, with a figurehead that looks like the mermaid herself. On both sides, two dolphins jumping. It is located in A Pedra do Sinal, on the sea, next to the Paseo Marítimo. The sculptural group, known as O Galeón de Cangas, is the work of Manuel Coia, from 2001.
Another mythological figure seems to be about to plunge into the waters of Silgar, in Sanxenxo. It is A Madama de Silgar, a bronze sculpture by Alfonso Vilar, placed on the rock of O Corbeiro in 1995. The name of madama refers to those women of legend, such as the encantos or the mouras, related to the moon, the night and water. She is half bent over, looking out to sea with a conch shell in her hands. In the hair blowing in the wind a vee forms, the author’s signature.
And we end with a literary figure. As is known, Jules Verne spoke of the Ría de Vigo in 20,000 Leagues of Underwater Voyage, recounting the adventures of Captain Nemo in the Nautilus. Well, in Cesantes, between the beach and the Illa de San Simón, a tribute was paid to him. The set represents the captain, in bronze, on top of a base of granite blocks over three meters above the rocks. Lower down, two bronze divers collect pieces of Rande’s treasure for the Nautilus. These are only fully visible when the water level rises, at times of spring tides or supermoons. The work was designed by Ramón Lastra and sculpted by Sergio Portela in 2004.