Joya: Air / Walter Lewis / UK

"I came to Joya: AiR with three objectives in mind. One was to simply to (re)learn to contemplate and be mindful. I seem to have slipped into a mode of living which involved constant ‘doing’. Second was to just simply respond as a photographer to this unique landscape. No concepts, no preconceived ideas - just ‘to be’ in the landscape and see what happens. Thirdly to research, so as to be able to articulate what I think my work is trying to achieve, how I am trying to achieve it and what this means in terms of how it is outputted. I had layers and layers of rambling thought collected over time swishing around in my head and not being particularly helpful. Joya: AiR seemed a wonderfully tranquil place to try and sort it all out!

So, what of the outcome. Well I’ve had wonderful and inspiring time just going with the flow, taking it as it comes. I’ve made some photographs which I am happy with and which I believe can be related to the nature of the environment and my ‘feelings’ towards it. More importantly the process of making those images has iterated productively with the thinking side of my visit. The clarity of the air has crept into my thinking and I feel I understand what I am trying to do better than at any point in recent years – and I think it leads to some ideas for outputting my work which I am finding exciting and uplifting. Too little space here for the details so I will just repeat some thoughts which have been more than helpful from Richard Povall of and Schumacher College in a talk/essay on ‘what is ecological art?’

‘An ecological arts practice is about a way of being in the world, open to all its wonder and complexities, feeling rather than seeing, expanding rather than reducing……a truly a praxic opening-out, a re-embracing of wonder, of enchantment, of the power of the mind and the soul.
A lithographic representation (Untitled 1966) of the ocean by Vija Celmens - a square of agitated water entirely without context, drawn in fine, extraordinary detail - is not a backward step towards representationalism or ultra-realism, but a spiritual meditation, a re-telling of a place to which we seem inexorably drawn'.

Walter Lewis

he Mersey Sound – Adrian Henri, Roger McGough, Brian Patten

Falling Awake – Alice Oswald

The Hundred Thousand Places - Thomas A Clarke

Ametsuchi – Rinko Kawauchi

The Living Mountain – Nan Shepherd

Joya: AiR / Joseph De Lappe / USA

"My experience at Joya: AiR was rather incredible. I had come to this residency after several years of major life disruptions: the end of a 26-year marriage, moving from the Western US to Scotland for a new professorship at a university in Dundee. This was literally the first time I truly stopped moving in about three years time. I came to Joya to work in a new, yet old direction in my work. I was born colourblind, a red green deficiency. Last year I bought two pairs of Enchroma color blind correcting glasses, prescription, one set for indoor, one for outdoor. 

My goal at the residency was to paint. I’m a media artist and activist by trade, working in electronic disobedience if you will. In my undergraduate years in the early 80’s I was studying to be an illustrator. Painting was always a challenge for me as I could not properly work with colour, kind of like being a tone deaf musician if you think about it.

At Joya: AiR I found the time and place to dive back into painting – last time I tried such was 20+ years ago. It was an amazing experience – I have a new confidence in what I can see – working with colour now feels normal. Hard to describe but not having to ask for help with colour in this work allowed my hand to flow freely – very happy with the results. The environment at Joya: AiR was so conducive to this kind of focused, quiet work. I took daily walks in the desert, enjoying the colours, the space, the QUIET. Yes, it is so QUIET there…simply an amazing experience and allowed me to reengage with my creative practice after several years of personal life disruptions. I feel now renewed and ready to move forward on any number of creative fronts.

I hope I return to Joya: AiR someday and highly recommend the experience to anyone looking for a place of solitude and remove".

Joseph De Lappe

Note* Joya: AiR is intending to expand the posts relating to resident artists/writers in the future. It is not obligatory (for those considering applying) but a means to expand the conversation with residents who have experienced Joya: AiR. We ask, in addition to your post entry text, for 5 books and 10 pieces of music (which can be found on the Joya: AiR Spotify account).

The Reenchantment of Art - Suzi Gablik

Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space - Brian O'Doherty

Relational Aesthetics - Nicolas Bourriaud

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television - Jerry Mander

Center for Artistic Activism (for additional reading resources)

Spotify joya_air

Joya: AiR / Hazel Dowling / UK

A Performance To Camera-as text-as songs-as movement



"Pressure sensors in the feet communicate instantly with the brain, internal organs and other body parts, in extreme danger the feet must be prepared to participate in fleeing, they do this by processing environmental information gathered through the soles, helping the brain to determine how much oxygen to release, over time this communication speeds up and allows us to adapt to the rhythm of running.

Can traces of history and past events be found in our nervous system and in our muscles, can we discover these through movement?

This landscape demands that I give way to instinct and surrender to its pulse.

According to Lamarck genetic assimilation allows an animals response to environmental stress to become a fixed part of its developmental repertoire so that characteristics formed in a given environment can be inherited and retained, even outside of the conditions of that environment, Lamarck calls this phenotypic plasticity.

Knowing this landscapes requires knowing my body, a coordination of eyes and feet, even whilst watching the sky and the land, whilst calling out, sounding the mountain, sounding the well. I walk through clumps of silence, startling. I strategise over grains and potential scores, of dividing space, documenting human interventions, measuring the distance between trees and equalising space with a grid, offering a segment to the other artists...does this landscape choreograph me?

A fugue is a contra-punctual composition in which a short melody or phrase is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving parts

Or it is a loss of awareness of ones identity, often coupled with a flight from ones usual environment

There are bee's drowning at the old well. There is a trough with a plastic tube that runs into a bath, its a hot day but there is ice floating in the tub, it fixes the bees in a curving pattern that oscillates to the hum of those flocking to the water that pours from the arched mound of mud and bricks, through the tube, flooding the trough, into the tub., they circle with a low drone.

I keep walking, consuming every old stump, the shape of the dry wood, grains, almond shells, mounds of soil sitting in pyramids next to the shallow ditches, formed in their creation, one has a thick wadge of coarse bush protruding 

I pick up the sole of the heel of a shoe, a heavy sole, turned on in its side, you could say it was the shape of the mounds of the hills in the middle distance and the lumpy protruding old well, all formed with an arching top and a flat base.

Dung in the dining room, dung on the floor, the floor made of dung, dung surrounding the decrepit remains of a manger, climbing onto hardened dung, hearing the beetles tunnelling through, corroding, consuming, digging down, removing 8 tons of dung, collecting  it and drying it up then grinding it into a fine dust, cracking an egg through your hands to form a fine paint.

The weather report states that there is a 100% probability of rain, a deluge, it will fill up the fields and run down the barrancos and into the ramblers and off to the sea".


Hazel Dowling

Joya: AiR / Massiel Mafes / USA

"I arrived at Joya: AiR with only a small pink sketchbook, oil pastels, and acrylic paint. I had no clue what I was going to make, but I was excited. Each day I would glance through the studio window and observe the beautiful Spanish landscape. I mixed a lot of paint, and created various color palettes. I often wrote down my thoughts and drew objects that caught my attention as I hiked up or down the hill. It was a bittersweet feeling to have to leave this place - a place where I met wonderful artists, had conversations about life and art, shared laughs, and learned about new cultures. I am very grateful to Simon and Donna for giving me the time and space to nurture my artistic practice, stay in their home, and eat their delicious meals. I left feeling inspired and ready to make new work in my studio in San Francisco. I will always remember this place as the hidden gem in Vélez-Blanco".


Massiel Mafes

Joya: AiR / Brenan Duarte / España

"De repente me he despertado, el silencio se podía escuchar, el tiempo no transcurría…

Al principio resultaba inquietante, pero tranquilizador.

De donde yo vengo (País Vasco) la cultura del ruido está inmersa en la sociedad vasca, cuanto más “jaleo” mejor.

Aquí he podido vislumbrar que la nada existe.

Ahora sé, que podré aislarme en cualquier entorno, gracias a mi corta estancia en la Cortijada de los Gázquez.

Sólo tendré que oler el viento de la sierra, acompañar con la mirada el vaivén de las ramas y mirar al cielo para perseguir a las nubes en su rápida marcha.

He comprobado que la soledad, es uno de los más preciados regalos".


Brenan Duarte 2017


"Suddenly I woke up, the silence could be heard, time did not pass ...
At first it was disturbing, but reassuring.
Where I come from (Basque Country) the culture of noise is immersed in Basque society, the more "fuss" the better.
Here I have glimpsed that nothing exists.
Now I know, that I can isolate myself in any environment, thanks to my short stay in the Cortijada de los Gázquez.
I will only have to smell the wind of the mountains, accompany the gaze of the branches and look to the sky to chase the clouds in their rapid march.
I have found that isolation is one of the most precious gifts".
Brenan Duarte
Joya: AiR / Andrew Morrison / UK

"Like all printmakers my studio and my practice are full of stuff – presses and scroll-saws and routers, they assist the work but in their own way they become props; they are limiters as well as enablers. The need to get away from the studio is a need to get back to pencil/paper/scissors – to ideas that might suggest a process but not be dictated to by one. I arrived at JOYA (by bus; two and a half days from England) with rolls of black and white paper, a pair of scissors and the beginnings of a series of texts (about our relationship with wilderness) that I wished to match with simple images that I hope may end up being pages in a book.

The studio at JOYA gave me the opportunity to create new patterns for working days – to draw in the mornings, walk in the warm afternoons (the landscape is so ever-changing with that it would have been easy to do nothing else but walk and watch vultures), assemble pages in the early evenings and then meet with the other artists to talk and plan before the, always delicious, evening meal.

I’ve lived off-grid for two years in Wales – a short time but long enough to learn that attention is constantly demanded by the systems that sustain life and that one’s own artistic practice struggles to appear as vital. To live in such a demanding way whilst also providing such a welcoming, creative environment for others is testament to Simon and Donna’s sustained vision, tenacity and generosity".


Andrew Morrison

Joya: AiR / Hangama Amiri / Afganistan - Canada

JOYA: AiR residency.

"Four words that come strongly from my personal experience at Joya: AiR Residency: solitude, silence, serenity and sincere".


"My first day of arrival at Vélez Rubio on Sunday December 3rd and soon meeting the lovely Donna Beckmann with her welcoming smile, has been a very special day for me. As we were driving towards the Joya: AiR while having a conversation, and looking through the window, the vast landscape had a nostalgic moment to my childhood memories of growing up in Panjshir Valley in Parwaan, Afghanistan. I felt a sudden warmth. And it felt very good to be at this remote, quite land".

Studio Time

"My time as an artist-in-residency at Joya: AiR program has been very productive, creative, adventurous and empowering. Being at my studio space with a big square window, not only inspired me to paint the everyday colour memory, but the warmth of sun from early morning to sun down inspired me to study the colour values of the nature, to experience the tranquil nature of the landscape and the fresh air surrounding the landscape. Especially delving my time into making art away from daily pressure and destruction—a space to focus solitude into my productivity.

At my studio space, I came with a proposed project to create work based on landscaping geography of Cortijada Los Gázquez in Almería, Andalucía. My current project “Gente de España” consisted of 15 small portrait paintings, oil on wood panel (11’’ x 14’’) that depicted portraits of local people in Los Gázquez and Vélez Blanco residents—overlapped against the stunning landscape of Almería. In this painting project, I used to go outside everyday with my journaling, sketching, and recording colour memory while also communicating with the Almerían people, knowing their taste of culture and language, then later brought my visual materials back to studio and used for later in my mixed media paintings.


For me what is more special about this residency was the interaction between other international artists. This has brought a challenging platform, a shared rich-cultural experiences, knowing about each other’s art practice and our day to day experience being at JOYA. Especially sharing our dinner time with Simon and Donna Beckmann has brought so much laugher, fun stories, and art/culture experiences. I will definitely miss those nights.

I would like to extend my warmest and most sincere thanks to Donna and Simon Beckmann’s generosity, hospitality, and critical view on my work. I will for sure miss each single day of my time at Joya: AiR, and I’m hoping to join the community once again to meet this extraordinary nature in summer time".


Hangama Amiri



Joya: AiR / Charlene Clempson / UK

"Joya: AiR enables you the chance to reboot and rethink your connection to art practice which  gives you time to rethink not only your practice but the methods used to create work in a sustainable manner. My initial plan was to document my time in Joya through image and text. I imagined that I would methodically work through the task at hand and careful transcribe each experience. Therefore, suturing art and life together as one piece of work - some of this was completed  but the sheer beauty of the place was both distracting and a wonder to view. 

Simon and Donna have created a space that does not conform to usual residency spaces and every aspect of the interior and exterior is well planned. Additionally,  dinner added to the social engagement and the food was delicious."

Charlene Clempson



Joya: AiR / Inma Gimeno Alcover / Spain

"Esta no es una experiencia, es "la experiencia" contigo mismo, con el entorno y con las personas que te acompañan.

Es un viaje al lugar donde es posible reflexionar, trabajar, crear, compartir, descubrir y descubrirte.

Paseos, naturaleza, espacio de trabajo, conversación, aprendizaje, un oasis en nuestro bullicioso mundo.

Realmente inspirador con personas encantadoras. Una verdadera joya".

Inma Gimeno

Joya: AiR / Marion Pauw / Holland

"I live in the middle of Amsterdam, which can be overwhelming sometimes. Especially the noise. There is always a car honking, a person yelling, a dog barking, a radio blaring.

First thing I noticed about Joya was the silence. I asked Donna if the vague sound in the distance were cars, but she said it was the wind in the pine trees. And then there was the wind turbine that sometimes would switch on for a couple of hours. Or an occasional bird.

I started taking long walks through the countryscape. Sometimes I wouldn’t even hear the wind. I would hold my breath to enjoy the nothingness.

On one of my first walks I was startled by a sound, it was like something was rushing towards me at a very high speed. I stopped dead in my tracks, unsure of what it was. Then I noticed it was the sound of wind blowing through a tree with yellow leaves. It almost sounded as if it were a percussion instrument. I’ve really started to like that sound. Every day I would look forward to hearing it, like a favourite song.

Today I walked past the tree for the very last time. I noticed the sound was gone. Too many of the yellow leaves had fallen now, as winter approaches. It made me a little sad, like I am feeling sad about leaving Joya:Air. But in the same time, I knew the leaves would return as I might some day".

Marion Pauw / writer in residence / November 2016

Joya: AiR / Liadain Evans / UK

"I came to Joya for the chance to film out in the rural landscape, something I don’t have easy access to at home. I got what I came for, as well as so much more. To be able to take one step out the front door and be in the midst of breathtaking mountains valleys and skies is a wonderful feeling. Time at Joya feels very different, it completely slowed down for me, meaning I could feel like I had had a productive day in terms of making work, while also spending hours and hours walking in the mountains, reading, spending time with the other residents, and lapping up delicious food (and wine!).

While at Joya I was able to spend so much time alone which was one of the major positives for me, however the time spent with the other artists, volunteers, interns and especially Simon and Donna was a warm and unexpected experience. Everyone was lovely, encouraging and supportive. I really enjoyed the artist talks in the evening, it was very interesting to hear about everyone’s practice, and there was such a wide range. 

Donna and Simon are incredibly warm and welcoming. Their kindness and charm make you feel right at home. The house itself is beautiful, and it is incredible to see the day to day activities of an off-grid environmentally sustainable home".

Liadain Evans

still image from video work in progress at Joya: AiR by Liadain Evans.

still image from video work in progress at Joya: AiR by Liadain Evans.

Joya: AiR / Taïs Bean / France

"It's my second residency at Joya and hopefully not my last. 

Joya offers a unique and generous sense of home, whilst we’re being held in the stunning and vast Natural Park surrounding us. Donna and Simon's knowledge of the land and grounded hard work sets the tone for contemplative and productive explorations.

My time here has surprised me with unexpected realisations about my work and has revived me with new important questions that I feel enthusiastic to investigate. It’s been interesting to note that each time I’ve come here, my research has been gently taken to places I hadn’t even begin to think of. Having the chance to focus in such silence whilst enjoying the company of a diversity of other artists and writers is highly nourishing. 

Even when inspiration ran dry, I have never stopped being overwhelmed by the natural beauty of this region, and in times of frustrating artistic blocks, the lack of superfluous distractions has pushed me to face my practice in ways I couldn't have otherwise. The space for research and reflexion given at Joya is very precious, and it’s incredibly valuable to remember how much can happen to a practice when we’re not "producing" something. 

Thank you to everybody and the Sierra Maria".

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Gill Ord / UK

"Here in Spain I’m aware of the gap between the idea and the reality of having all day to look and paint. In between action there is time to think, locate, be anxious about the right way to spend the time.

Sitting in the shade, looking out at the sunlight, sitting with the sun on your face. Walking in the dusty desert landscape, getting spiked by hardy aromatic plants adapted to the environment. 
Snoozing with patches of sunlight on the duvet. Reading to enlighten, focus, escape.

Thinking of Thomas Jones in Italy, painting the light, and of Agnes Martin working in the studio, back to the window. 

Is there a right way to go about this, how is time best spent, how to be porous, yet resilient and robust. 

I’ve been moving between a boulder in front of a wall and the Studio (not a rock and a hard place). Outside I’m exposed to the sun, at times it’s windy (stones in my pallets, to hold them down) the silence, isn’t, there’s bugs, and birdsong, the wind turbine, fighter jets. But mostly there is a stillness and it feels nourishing, slowing down the senses".


Gill Ord

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR /Anna Paes / Brazil

"These days I spent in residence were a great opportunity and experience for me. 

The silence, the  landscape  and the energy of this place gave me a good sensation to produce a new series of work.

The numerous colours of the minerals I could see walking the mountains also inspired for me a new and intense production.

Those were unforgettable days.

Thanks Simon and Donna for all attention and kindness. It was great to be with you and all of you who were together these days".

Anna Paes

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / K Goldstein / France

"What an amazing Adventure I’ve lived in Joya !

It is like an Oasis of creation and for me the entire area was a giant playground of landscapes, colours, scents, highs and inspirations.

The nature, day after day, takes more and more space in your vision, your thoughts, your dreams. 

It feels so good to be alone in a wild forest or desert, trying to create and taking time for it.

I always feel more powerful when i don’t suffer from the lack of time, when time will just adapt to my speed and way of work.  And, in Joya, it was actually the case. 

I only stayed a week and that’s my only regret because it was beginning to really feel like home.

In fact the house is so warm and wonderfully decorated with so much taste that you only can feel at ease there. Art is everywhere and it gives you energy, ideas and inspiration to keep working.

One other wonderful side of Joya is the hosts Donna and Simon who are a real delight to meet and speak with. Donna is making your dinner look like heaven on a plate and Simon gave me the best tips to find some gorgeous place for my work. 

It is also very interesting and inspiring how they could find way to live in the middle of this desert and develop great ideas and actions about ecology and preservation.

I try to use this time to find some new dances protocoles and develop a new aspect of video aesthetics for those Dancescapes in Andalusia. Those big landscapes questioned me a lot about the small, and the little you can do in such a big place.

At last, one other charming side of this residency are other residents who were really nice, great and interesting. We all came from differents places of the planet and with different practices and how rich and rejuvenating to discover others visions of Art.

Joya just opened a space in my mind where i know i can come back with joy, comfort and smile".

K Goldstein

instagram: keatbeck.dancescape facebook:

portrait by Solomon Beckmann

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Hillel O'Leary / USA

'There is a longing here. 

The topography has been molded into a vessel. It bends to the will of water, and forever awaits its return. 

Ruins sit forgotten along sun-bleached banks. Their doors are still open.

There is a lonely mountain in the distance. It is a haze tethered somewhere between solidity and ether, and I visit with it every morning to be sure this balance has not tipped. We have an unspoken agreement that there will be nothing without substance, and nothing too substantial for its own good.

There is a palpable stillness, an enveloping, ever-present silence that flows beneath the sand and clay. It is a kind of sonic negative space whose perimeter is loosely defined by winding stories, and punctuated with sudden fits of laughter.

Maybe it is all a mirage. Another spaghetti western fiction where names are not terribly important, and actions, if they can be proven, are the true measure of one’s worth. (We ate spaghetti in fact last night. It was quite good).

No, it is quite real, quite essential. A place where one who is willing can pare down the tangential outgrowth of a developing art practice, and return to the centre of making. The core of being. 

Here, the water has come back

The house is full'.

Hillel O’Leary is a New York sculptor whose work deals in place, time, and belonging.

He is a recent graduate of the Penn State sculpture MFA program, and he holds a bachelor’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. 

His recent work has been featured in the US and internationally, including exhibitions as part of the Digital Stone Project in Italy’s Tuscany region.

Joya: AiR / Jill Gibson / UK

"Rock solid, impenetrable, arid, harsh .......Dust a second skin over everything. This place – painted with a different palette grey hue, white chalk, lime zing, pink pop, orange zest, bible black Dylan Thomas sky dotted with diamond shine. Expanse humbling in its enormity. 

Landscape in all its loveliness - with no apology for its rawness.

In contrast the relaxing nature of Los Gázquez (home of Joya: AiR) enabled me to work at my own pace - exploring issues and concepts which considered the boundaries between urban and rural, interior and exterior space. Taking walks each day across the Sierra then returning to translate the visual 'imprints', I worked using both 3 dimensional and collaged elements which collided, contrasted and evolved over the days. The process resulted in various manifestations, excavations and considerations all of it revolved around the collective domestic buzz of the Beckmann household - warm, caring, sociable and intelligently informative.......the work began to emerge with references to the inside versus outside - a subjective versus objective view of my immediate environment.

There have been interesting developments, shifts in ideas, ways of thinking and an emerging dialogue, often the discourse spilling over into the evenings which were spent eating amazing food, gathering around the wood burner in the evenings flopped on large comfortable sofas, enjoying a glass of wine along with my fellow artists. I will treasure my time here.......truly enhanced by the rich, funny and informative experiences of fellow artists Karin, Hillel, Rachel, Mark, Bob and Marion, with much thanks to Simon, Donna, Soli, Sesi and Max the dog for welcoming me into their home and making my time here so pleasurable and constructive. A huge thank you". 


Jill Gibson

Joya: AiR / Bob Lawson / UK

"I arrived at Velez Rubio at night, was collected by Simon and driven through the darkness and indiscernible landscape to Joya: AiR. I was longing for sleep after a fourteen hour journey and was greeted with wonderful food, wine and warmth. I have a vague memory of tumbling into bed.

The morning light was truly astonishing, waking to a view from the bedroom window across the tops of olive trees with a rising mountain set against a clear blue sky in the still , silent air.

I hold firmly to the maxim that everything is defined by it’s context and, given that my allocated studio looked out into a bone-dry mountainous landscape I was wondering to what extent this alien terrain might impact on the work I may produce.

My work is often described as ‘urban’, not least because I have explored ‘bill-board evidence ‘ to generate collages that partake of the social history of a place. A kind of ‘social archeology ‘ where I unpeel the layers of patterns, events and activities and re-frame what I find. It is something I did in other residencies In Thessaloniki, in Venice and in Crete so naturally I collected peeling, torn posters in Granada to enable me to make a start. It is an interesting way to engage with a place and affords focus and time to adjust to the surrounding environment.

Staying at Joya: allowed me to set my own routine, to dip in and out of work when I wanted to and also to remain focused and locked in to whatever I was doing for as long as I wished. I felt completely relaxed throughout my stay and found that even though I worked at a leisurely pace I was able to produce an interesting and varied range of work, whilst appraising and re-appraising the processes I was using.

Each day was rounded with excellent food, wine and conversation and I enjoyed this immensely. Meeting other artists, listening to presentations and also rising to the challenge of presenting and discussing my own practice was stimulating and challenging.

In simple terms, Joya is a tremendous project and I would love to return in the near future".


Bob Lawson

Joya: AiR / Stephen Sheffield / UK

"On my arrival, travelling back from Vélez Rubio a huge wild boar ran in front of Simon’s Land Rover head lights and disappeared into the darkness -very exciting, this was my first Wild Boar encounter. 

The fact that this is the 5th time that I have returned, is testimony to what Joya: AiR  means to me. There is a peace and calm that the surrounding alpine desert brings after the hustle and bustle of London. 

I accept that it takes a day or 2 to acclimatise to the serene surroundings, which is part of the process and concentrates the mind.

Simon, Donna and their family were as ever, the convivial hosts. I look forward to the evening meals and the food is always fantastic. It’s good to break bread and catch up with the other artists too, who invariably are diverse and interesting characters.

As I wrestle with my painting, Simon’s suggestions and guidance has proved invaluable to me and I leave inspired and energised. 

Moving forward in my development, there are questions to resolve regarding narrative, lines of enquiry and how that manifests itself in my mark making:- These are points that I relish and look forward to addressing thanks to my residency at Joya: AiR".


Stephen Sheffield / October 2017