A Spanish artist who lived through Spain’s counterculture movement during the country’s transition to democracy is exhibiting a collection of her paintings in Totnes.

Local resident Maria Luisa Libertad Polanco, who is including a variety of original work and prints, said the exhibition at The Mansion reflected her evolution as an artist in a town ideal for “misfits” like her.

“Totnes is one of these places where you feel a misfit in the world. What I like about it is that it’s very alternative - people let you be. Once you fit in Totnes, it’s difficult to fit anywhere else,” she said.

A multi-faceted artist, Ms Polanco has worked with different mediums, including pottery, sculpture, stone and wood carving, but considers herself a “Colourist” first and foremost, in reference to the Scottish Colourists’ movement that sprung up in the 1950s.

“It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but I love nature – it speaks to me, especially the beauty, serenity and intricate patterns of flowers,” said Ms Polanco, who revealed that she had been closely involved with ‘La Movida’ (The Scene) counterculture movement during the early 1980s, not long after the death of dictator, General Francisco Franco.

The movement, which first emerged in Madrid, helped launch alternative film director Pedro Almodovar’s career and set the tone for the country’s fledgling democracy.

“I was part of the scene and I was an extra in films, even though I was only 16-years-old. It was a very exciting time – everybody was waking up after Franco died. It was wild. The new generation was exploring and experiencing new things artistically and musically,” Ms Polanco said.

She was also given Flamenco dance classes by world-renowned instructor, Maria Magdalena, who went on to feature in a film by another famous Spanish director, Carlos Saura.

Ms Polanco, who settled in Totnes because she wanted her daughter “to grow up in a similar creative environment”, has also done more experimental work, and recently exhibited a compilation of portraits of Totnes people whose voices were added as soundbites next to their respective paintings.

“It became an audio-visual experience, and people said it was more like therapy,” she said.

Her current work celebrates the use of bright colours, saying that they not only improved her mood but brought her closer to nature. “My garden is my studio,” she added.

She said she had dedicated her latest exhibition “to my Hebrew teacher’s daughter, Jenny May Cooper”, who passed away a week ago after battling with cancer for 22 months, and to her cat, Mystica, “who I had to put down the week before unexpectedly”.

Despite her recent experiences, she stressed that the purpose of her art “is just to bring people joy and a sense of wellbeing”.

The Maria Luisa Libertad Polanco exhibition runs until June 3 at The Mansion, Fore Street, Totnes. Two of her paintings are also on show at The Angel restaurant, also on Fore Street.