It is an 18th century mansion and it stands on a corner in the Plaza de Las Flores, in the town centre. It is known as the Casa de Las Tejerinas because it was once owned by sisters Carmen and Francisca Tejerina. In the 20th century it was visited by several important figures in literature, such as Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, who described the building and the life of the sisters who owned it in his 'Cuadernos de La Romana'.
Francisca donated the building to the Charity Hospital, but it was abandoned during the 1960s. The local authority later took it over and used it for different purposes; first of all it became a professional training centre, with classrooms and offices, and then it was a library and cultural building and also housed the local radio and TV stations. José María Guerrero, the councillor for Heritage, says the works carried out to accommodate these facilities resulted in the building “losing its essence; it looked more like an office building than a historic monument”.
The present council restored the building in 2011 and for five years it housed the art collection of comedian Ángel Garó, which included drawings by Lorca, Alberti and Walt Disney and imagery created by different artists.
The Casa de las Tejerinas has now become an art museum known as MAD (Museo de Arte de la Diputación) and is the second in Malaga province to display works owned by the provincial government (the first is in Antequera). Works have been carried out to make it accessible to people with reduced mobility; in fact, the most expensive part of the project was the installation of a lift in one of the patios, giving access to the exhibition rooms on the upper floor.
Among the building's most interesting features are the colonnaded central patio, the impressive main entrance with a balcony above, and the arcaded tower on the top level.
José María Guerrero says the MAD is a major step forward for Estepona in terms of culture as well as providing a connection with the Diputación's art collection. There will be a permanent display (renewed every two years) and as the exhibition only contains paintings, there is plenty of space for book presentations, talks, theatre performances and conferences.
“If a museum only has one collection, it ends up being a storeroom for art and people will visit it once or maybe two times, but they won't come back again,” says the councillor, who explains that the aim of the MAD is to have a “powerful” permanent exhibition plus temporary displays and cultural events.
At the moment, visitors can see works produced during the last 18 years by a group of artists, many of them fromAndalucía, such as Dadi Dreucol, Enrique Brinkmann, Chema Lumbreras and José Carlos Casado (Malaga); Santiago Idáñez (Jaén), Chema Cobo (Tarifa), and Miki Leal (Seville). Other artists include Judas Arrieta, (Guipúzcoa) and Andrés Buforn(Aragón).
Altogether the MAD contains 49 works of art out of the more than 2,500 which the provincial government has collected over the years through donations or acquisitions.
The Casa de las Tejerinas may have changed its appearance over time, depending on the use to which it has been put, but its soul and spirit have always remained the same.