Art is all around at La Residencia in Deia, especially in the hotel's fabulous Sculpture Garden.
Juan Waelder points to the gnarled trunk of a veteran olive tree, all sinewy twists like the muscles of a posing nude. "Now there's a work of art", he says. The Sculptor in Residence of Mallorca's La Residencia has transformed the hotel's lawns and citrus orchards into a garden gallery of contemporary art, set off by works produced by nature itself. Pieces by internationally-renowned artists nestle among trees or stand beside rugged stone walls. In this setting, twin shiny metal "wings" become a bird in flight, while twisted pipes echo the roots of an oak.
Mallorca-based Waelder makes an inspirational guide, ready to recount the story of each piece. All are by sculptors who have a connection to the island. A cluster of pieces that evoke meerkats on alert turn out to be made from the hinges used to hold back the green shutters of local windows. A flamboyant coiled horn arrived after the agreed deadline, reflecting the unhurried lifestyle of its artist, who lives at Mallorca's remote heart. He asked for more time because, he explained, "I still need to talk to it for a while first."
The La Residencia sculpture garden adds another creative dimension to the adjacent village of Deià, known as an enclave of "alternative" artists since the 1960s. Art lovers can relax on a lounger beneath a leafy pergola and contemplate the finer points of elegant bronzes, while children are encouraged to touch and play with fun pieces like "octopi" fashioned from pebbles off the beach.
When he's not working on his own creations or leading tours, Waelder is at the ready with clay and chisels to teach guests how to sculpt for themselves. He shows off a figurine produced after just an hour or so of tuition to explain what can be achieved in minimal time.
Waelder's masterclasses are mirrored by painting courses offered by La Residencia's Artist in Residence, Briton Alan Hydes. Surrounded by enormous canvasses in brilliant, Mediterranean hues, Hydes also divides his time between mentoring guests and his own work painting portraits and other exuberant subjects in and around the hotel.