Joya: AiR / Kathryn Hughes / Wales / UK
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I came to Joya: AiR for the solitude, serenity and clarity of mind that I envisaged a week-long residency in an off-grid location in Andalusia would provide. I am currently writing a thesis on philosophy, concerning certain elements of contemporary ‘post-digital’ culture, more specifically how our interactions with digital devices translate our bodies, identities and subjective experiences into algorithms and a ‘data-language’ that leaves a trace of us somewhere in the ether of a ‘virtual space’; a phenomenon that many of us still can’t quite begin to fully grasp, understand or even comprehend.

 The landscape and microclimate of the Sierra Maria-Los Velez Natural Park is one of extremes, and it’s difficult not to be constantly awestruck by its startling natural beauty and deep tranquillity; time seemed slower and stiller there, the senses more in tune with elemental rhythms. Trail running through this testing terrain, negotiating the loose and rocky ground underfoot, became a humbling experience, made bearable by immersion in the densely wooded pine forests of the north-facing slopes, incredible views across the steep sloping valleys, and the occasional glimpse of prematurely blossoming almond trees.

Inspired by conversations with the other resident artists, about trekking to find the prehistoric cave paintings located nearby- preserved on the surface walls of a steep, rocky overhanging shelter within a sheer rock-face- my thinking process began to expand towards how language, writing-systems, drawing, mark-making, and painting developed thousands of years ago, as our primary human technologies for communication and meaning-making. This, in turn, prompted me to take my own writing practice out of the studio and into the terrain of the Sierra Maria-Los Velez Natural Park, drawing small-scale binary code interventions onto the exposed limestone surfaces of the landscape, minor gestures to make-visible the increasingly predominant ‘writing’-system of our digital age.”

Kathryn Hughes

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Natalia Kasprzycka / Poland
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“The moment I arrived at Joya: AiR, the only noise I could hear was the ringing inside my own head –  no doubt a symptom of a city creature being transferred outside of its habitat. As days followed and every step I took into the quiet air of Sierra María-Los Vélez sounded like a bag of stones being dropped into the undergrowth, I wondered about the invasive potential of human presence on a previously unknown territory.  

Joya: AiR, however, is a place where intelligent human intervention becomes a form of care for the land. Simon and Donna built their residency on the unique history of the landscape and constructed their living space and resource systems with respect to its nature and limitations, without asking it for more than it can give.

So, human intervention as cooperation with the landscape.

I kept that in mind as I worked around this question: how to be present without being invasive?

I played with the idea of leaving gentle traces, objects which in their own time will dissolve, disappear.

I experimented with the land's native materials – limestone, white, green, red clays, pigments, pine resin as well as its strong, unique vegetation, often spiky or thorny, or otherwise adapted

to the difficult, dry climate. 

My mind went out to Robert Smithson, Anthony Goldsworthy and Chris Drury. 

Claire Fisher, a common friend of Simon's, Donna's and mine and a big supporter of my work was the one who thought I should come here. Claire, you were right, thank you for making this happen. 

Thank you Simon and Donna, all the artists and volunteers for making this a very special, productive and though-provoking time”. 


Natalia Kasprzycka

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Violetta Paez - Argentina / Maria Paris - Columbia
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


Maria is a Colombian artist based in Paris working with text, publication and various researches on myth, time, distance and repetition, a continual conversation and inquiry about fact and belief, myth and reality. Violeta is an Argentinian writer based in London working with curation and performative lectures that aim to think affectively, theoretically and politically about sustainability and living amongst other species. 

“We went to Joya: AiR to work on ´To say soft is not to say tender´,  a collaborative project involving a publication and a series of lectures on ideas of translatability, language and sustainability. 

We’ve been working on collaborative projects like Twice and elsewhere an online platform consisting of a series of monthly exchanges between two artists from different contexts.

 During our time in the residency, we spent a lot of time laying the foundations for a new project, discussing what each one of us wanted to work on. 

Being in Joya gave us the unique experience of being isolated while working, which gave us the opportunity to spend an unlimited amount of time to discuss and argue and forced us to stay with the project and with the process of collaborating that can be uncomfortable at times. 

Besides our collaboration being surrounded by other artists was extremely helpful, as there were a lot of conversations and peer discussions with other artists, Simon and Donna. Each night,  one of the participating artists presented their work before dinner, it was a unique opportunity to discuss work in a relaxed amicable context. As the artists were from around the world and didn’t know each other, the exchange was very fertile. To have to talk about your practice in a context where is not usually shown and to people that are not already familiar with it, makes you look at it from different perspectives. 

It was really good to hear from Simon about how the house functions and the different sustainable systems that allow them to reutilise resources and produce as little waste as possible. 

From a more personal point of view being able to spend time with the landscape was refreshing as we were both coming from fast-paced cities and cloudy winters.  

Thanks for such a wonderful experience! 

Violeta Paez and Maria Paris

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Robyn Jacob / musician / Canada
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“Before arriving in Spain, I was gearing up for this residency with ambitious goals. I intended to earnestly begin work on my next larger musical composition, be it for one of my bands or another ensemble. I was going to bask in the benefit of unstructured time and pound out an opus. The week before arriving, my project Only A Visitor released our second full length album. Between the release that gave me, and my recent readings of composer John Luther Adams, who writes a lot about compositional process, I realized that my initial goals were needing readjustment. I instead decided that I would “do” and “make” very little, taking off the pressure. I wanted to really open up, become a vessel. I’m so glad that I made that change to my plans, and this residency has been the absolute perfect place to do that.

The first morning that I was at Joya: AiR, I was very jet lagged and up at 5am, which happened to coincide with the “blood moon” full lunar eclipse – I could see it from bed! That set the stage for a deeply resonant week. Even though some participants stays overlapped with mine for only a day or so, I felt like I learned a lot from the other participants. Putting together a short presentation helped me solidify my current lens into my artistic practice. Long walks, exploring, listening to the landscape; a few ideas came to me during this time that seem like such obvious directions for me, but I really feel that I would not have been able to access them if I was at home. 

The food, the design, the space, the quiet, the stars, the dedication to sustainable living both environmentally and psychologically: this place is a true gem.

I am so grateful for Simon and Donna and what they have cultivated here at Joya: AiR. Even a short stay of one week has given me a lot, and I am thankful to be able to carry that back with me to my every day in Vancouver”.

Robyn Jacob

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Liv Solberg Andersen / Norway

”I am almost always thinking about the next painting I am going to paint, the next idea I want to try out, or what I am deeply engaged with. And somehow I think my interest is very much about the body, the embodiment. To see the remains of a process, to see that something has happened, even if the motive is representational. I am always searching for those things and it offers a kind of meaning. Since I usually paint and work alone in my studio, I think it is very healthy for me to go to a residency like this and meet other artists. The conversations help me understand more of what I am looking for, more of myself, and my view of life.

I brought my grown up daughter. We only meet about three times a year, so this intense week lead us into joyful and deeper conversations of arts and life. We enjoyed walks in the nature reserve, and both of us were really inspired by the ecological way of living. We want to bring elements of that with us home.

Since I live in a small city in Norway with no sunshine six months of the year, it is no secret that I appreciated the sun of Spain this week, which we got pretty much of. I collected colours. On a distance you could think that the landscape is all the same pale ochre, but that is not true. When you look closer, you can see a lot of variations of yellow, raw sienna, purple, crimson, brown, white, green, and even blue. And lines. You will find wonderful fragrances from dry wild herbs when you crush them between your fingers. I believe these sensory experiences will influence my on-going and future work”.

Liv Solberg Anderson, Rjukan, Norway






Liv Solberg Andersen

Rjukan, February 1, 2019

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Jennifer Wenker / artist-curator / USA
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I keep coming back to layers and time—geologic, metamorphic, metaphysical, personal—and the way we understand them. Or, fail to understand our place in time.  The way we use time, spend time, waste time, busy ourselves in actions and labor and production without reflection, without wondering whether we are happy, whether our busyness makes any contribution to care or beauty or meaning or joy.

We spend most of our days here, hearing almost nothing.  It is so gorgeously silent that I’ve come to notice small things.  The wind turbine, still and silent, suddenly animated by an invisible force, and sound emerges from the turning blades, piercing the quiet—making me suddenly aware of the wind on my own face, moving my hair against my cheek.

I am aware that I cannot hear birds in the daylight.  They are briefly here in the early darkness and then they go somewhere else most of our waking hours, returning to the mountain late in the evening.  I hear nothing but my own footsteps negotiating the rocky alluvial beds as sand slides beneath my shoes rhythmically shifting chalky stones to powder on the desert roads.

I am aware of my keyboard strokes.  I am aware of a small honeybee flying nearby my ear.  When someone else is near, we share quiet rhythms and our patterns become layered.  My keyboard clicks, Louie’s weaving bobbin taps against the loom frame, French music plays softly from his phone.  Caz’s paper catches a bit of breeze and flaps about.

We are all engaged in a dance to understand one another’s rhythms—of waking, sharing coffee and kitchen space, working, walking, talking, sharing space in the studio or on the sunny west facing wall at sunset, or sharing wine, or conversation at dinner, of resting and reading and working again into the night.  Knowing how to be in a shifting space with others, all creative and differently paced, from cultures and languages and traditions and disciplines and time zones that daily shift the balance and cause one to renegotiate one’s own contribution to the whole, as well as when to withdraw and retreat from it to create.

We are each layered in this space and these moments, for a brief time of regeneration, reflection and renewal.  Are we called to produce work while in residency—or is this a time to be fully exploratory, where we are fully permitted not to produce, but instead to be porous and to draw love and care and newness into ourselves without expectation or commodification of the time spent?  Are we permitted to just exist and move and walk and collect and observe and rest and dream and wonder?

* * *

Stringing up Clotheslines and Standing Beneath Stars



What do the clotheslines mean?  Are they about domesticity, repetition, feminine work, in concert with daily rhythms?  It feels like it might be about the layers again, and about time? We are so small and insignificant in such a vast landscape.  But here, where water and resources are vastly differently regarded, even the simple work of washing takes on a different level of importance than it does at home where water is not regarded at all.  

I save my bucketfuls of cold shower water to refill the cistern tanks—and those two buckets matter.  Here small acts are significant in ways you rarely consider. Every turn of the wind turbine is a reminder that the wind is a gift and that it is needed and valuable and provides energy for the pump to bring water through the copper pipes to the sinks and the showers.  

In this landscape, the elements are regarded with care and the rhythms of wind and sun and light and darkness, dryness and rain are present with such clarity here that it is impossible to take any of these things for granted.  

We have learned to adjust our own patterns to the established rhythms of the high desert; we work with the daylight, we use water as if it is precious (and it is), we make our creative work and take our walks and warm our bodies outside most of the day—in the warming sun, and then in perfect concert with the sun, we retreat to the woodstove as soon as the sun slips behind the mountain peak, where we gather afghans and our dog-eared books to read and reflect and collect our thoughts.

Heat is not taken for granted either—not like a furnace at home—but instead the fire attracts us to it, like kids around a campfire.  It feels physically wonderful and everything about the wood heat and the setting of the gathering room, in fact, invites us to gather. Layered in colorful down pillows and afghans and soft light and fireglow.  It makes me think about why most living rooms focus on the television and not on each other. Here, conversation and care flow easily.

And, meals here are about so much more than feeding the body calories—hours are spent preparing fresh simple ingredients into layers of color and flavors and textures and aromas. We eat Spanish time, about 9 pm and the anticipation of what might emerge from the kitchen is part of the joy here.  Always simple, usually vegan, made from humble ingredients—sweet potatoes, chickpeas, couscous, quinoa, lemon, fresh greens, beautiful aromatic herbs.

We have bottles of local wine and a table set with pillar candles every evening and we stay at the table, gathered and telling stories lingering for hours after dinner.  I am enamored with their ability to keep a conversation so incredibly funny and lively. I am aware of how much we don’t know about the art of hosting while I am in the presence of gifted thinkers and storytellers.  Every night has been deeply affecting—or hysterically funny.

Our usual rhythm: coffee, coffee, coffee, tea, tea, beer, beer, wine, sip of water at dinner, then wine, wine and wine.

* *

Layers and time and rhythms and value/Commodity/Labor

When do we get time to sort it all out?  

I think this is my reason for being here.  To be. Just be.  No prescribed reason or schedule or expectation of labor or output.  We already do that all the time. Here in residency is a re-set, a time to consider things or rest or think different thoughts—reading, walking, making—or not making, evaluating what it all means—all of it—and being open and willing to be fully porous—to whatever else there is, and perhaps making different (or the same) choices in our lives.  Are we on the path we want to be on? Are we making decisions and choices that we’ve actually consciously chosen or are we on a conveyer belt to God knows where without considering other options?

We can choose to put ourselves in the path of beauty, but do we?  Have we?

Do we surround ourselves with beauty in the objects we keep in our private spaces, our public spaces, our work spaces?  In the activities we choose? In the daily work we do? Do we choose to surround ourselves with beautiful spirits and creative, optimistic lovers of life, or not?  Why not?

So, layers….

Sunlight, folds, ripples, waves, moving in invisible currents.

Buttery yellows pressing up against azure color fields.  Cloth and wind.

Starry, glittery twinkling flickers in an impossibly vast Universe, under which I am imperceptibly small.  I am obsessed every night to witness them. To just be underneath them. In awe of them. Time will pass whether I see them or not, but I want to be here, awake.  I want to be present. I want the magic.

The sheets are probably about magic too.

The golden hour is so brief—never an hour, of course—ten golden minutes if you’re lucky enough to catch it.  And, I want to be there too. To be present for the final performance of the evening. The final act before we all retreat inside, and gather around a different radiance.  The light is everything.  Aren’t we all drawn to the light?  The warmth of fire, of candles, of sunrises and sunsets, of color and heat and all-consuming oneness with something vast and beautiful?  

* * *

We do not walk on the earth

but in it, wading

in that acid sea

where flesh is etched from

molten bone and re-forms.

In this massive tide

warm as liquid

sun, all waves are one

wave; there is no other.

--Margaret Atwood

Circe/Mud Poems

* * *

Thank you Donna and Simon, Soli and Sessi for sharing your magic.   I am humbled by the daily ways you transform the humble into the extraordinary through JOYA. Caz, Natalia, Catie, Dayna, Lucy, Louie, Bjørn, Mia, Maria, Violetta, Mai—your light warmed my spirit—each one of you a treasured part of my experience of this magical space and time.

xo, Jennifer 'Jenny' Wenker

Jennifer Wenker is a curator and conceptual eco-artist living and working near the Appalachian foothills. Born into the era that also birthed the environmental movement, the feminist movement and social and racial justice movements, Jennifer was brought up in an era of both peace and protest, echoing her family’s Quaker heritage of active social justice and non-violence. Intellectually and spiritually, her curatorial and studio practice reside in that "in between" space, negotiating conflicting points of view and drawing connections. Her home, the edge of Appalachia--a financially impoverished area rich in scrappy resourcefulness--is often reflected in her work’s thrifty DIY sensibility.  Jennifer’s work is infused with a natural ecological awareness—of cycles—interrelatedness and interdependence. Her studio work is smart and spare in form, ripe with conceptual content and poetry, deftly moving among photography, sculpture, dust paintings, mud and manure seed bombs, video, installations, community art actions and dialogical engagement. Her curatorial focus is on cross-pollination between seemingly divergent ideas and areas of thought.

Since 2014, Jennifer has been the Creative Director of the Herndon Gallery at Antioch College, an historically activist and progressive liberal arts college with a strong history of environmental and social justice work, where she has been curating contemporary interdisciplinary exhibitions which directly engage with critical social-environmental issues. 

Jennifer Wenker
Creative Director of the Herndon GalleryChair of Arts at Antioch

Joya: AiR / Catie Rutledge / USA
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I feel alien and American.”

-Journal entry from Day 2

“In retrospect I can see that part of Joya: AiR was a reckoning with my creative doubt and anxiety. In the span of a week I worked on a watercolor mock-up for costume embroidery, a series of photographs of objects I have been working with in my performances in the surrounding landscape, some very brief planning of a performance I would like to do in a more traditional theatrical setting, and a flag. I was at Joya: AiR during what is now the longest government shutdown in American history, and conversations at dinner every night inevitably turned towards politics. How could they not? Government workers were working without pay, Brexit was a mess, protests were continuing in Paris. By the second day I was thinking about how to make an American flag out of the materials I had brought with me as a way to reckon with the current cultural and political moment. I wound up embroidering a pink satin shirt I had been using in my teenage bedroom performances and attaching it to a long stick I later learned was used to knock almonds out of trees, combining my own symbols with that of Joya’s. I asked Natalia, another resident at Joya, to film me holding the flag in the blustery wind on the last day of my residency. Although I couldn’t see it from the inside, I spent my time at Joya responding to the new place I was in and the new people I was with. It wasn’t a time of energetic, relentless creation so much as a time for digestion, for taking hikes and getting lost, for meeting new people, and for eating delicious food. The time I had at Joya was special: I met artists I plan on staying in contact with and tried things I couldn’t have expected before I arrived. Thanks to Simon, Donna, Lucy, Dayna, Maria, Violeta, Natalia, Jenny, and Mai for everything¨.

Catie Rutledge

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / writer / Bjørn Vatne / Norway
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“The almond trees are blossoming. They shouldn't, not for another month or so.

'Streetlamps lay fractured and splintered in the fields, like toothpicks at an extravagant dinner party that had ended in uncomfortable silence.'

Finishing the first draft of my next book, I find myself in the Spanish highland, where the quiet is so thunderous, the sound of dry branches pulverized under the soles of my electric blue Asics so eerily satisfying, I fall asleep dreaming of trains and Honey Smacks.

'For a few seconds his every thought was frozen in spirals around this artificially prompted desire for a possibly non-existent object.'

One minute, my desk is a slab of concrete, the next, a battered picnic table behind the cement wall under the windmill.

'No matter what progress humanity made on other fronts, it seemed as if the manufacturers of office furniture thought they had achieved their peak potential on the day they invented plastic-coated chipboard.' 

Hi, you must be Bjorn? Is it Bjoorn? Bjüun? 

It might be, I forget so easily these days. Time has slowed down and my name probably has too.

'Over time, fluctuations in pressure would create the tiniest shifts in the building’s load-bearing structures, by extension giving rise to an insurmountable yet invisible void.'

I love the word void, it makes my mouth water.


Bjørn Vatne is a Norwegian writer. He has currently published two novels in Norwegian through his publisher Gyldendal Norsk Forlag: This is how we choose our victims (2015) and the cli-fi The Deletion of Paul Abel (2018), from which he borrowed all the above quotes. At Joya: air he finished the first draft for his next book, which has a fair amount of hallucinations in it”.

Bjørn Vatne

Reading list: 

J. G. Ballard: Vermillion Sands

Ray Bradbury: I sing the body electric!

Daniil Kharms: Today I wrote nothing

Alessandro Boffa: You’re an animal, Viskovitz

Marlen Haushofer: The Wall

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Mai Omer / Israel
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“A few months before my stay at Joya: AiR I was invited to participate in a group exhibition, for which I had to produce a new artwork. Like the exhibition, the artwork was meant to deal with sensitive political issues such as colonialism, borders and refugees. As an artist who works mainly on socially engaged projects, I do not shy away from political matters. However, I do mostly tackle them by creating platforms for dialogues and by working through collaboration. This time I could not do so, and I had to work by myself. For this reason and others, I was feeling out of my comfort zone. Consequently, I decided that since I had to put extra thought into this project, I should dedicate my time at the residency for this purpose.   

I got to Joya: AiR on a sunny Monday afternoon. After a nice chat with Donna and quick tour around the house, I went out for a short walk. With my lousy sense of orientation, I kept to a simple route and made sure that I did not lose sight of the house. After walking for twenty minutes or so, I realised that I am by myself, that is, entirely by myself. No one was walking behind me, and I was not about to run into anyone ahead. With the little to no internet reception, no one was about to call, I would not get any new emails, and therefore have no reason to check them obsessively as I usually do. I realised that I had not been in this state, of being completely by myself with no possible distractions, for at least a decade (perhaps longer). Not only did I need that kind of headspace to think about my project, but I also needed it in general. 

Los Gázquez (Joya: AiR) was the perfect location for reflection. But it was not just the quietness and isolation that help me to develop my work. The most significant breakthroughs I had with my project were as a result of discussing it with the other artists who were there with me. In other words, it was not just the setting that made this residency so productive, it was also the company, the wonderful dinners, and the long conversations into the night.

Thank you, Simon and Donna for the great platform that you have created.


I am a multimedia artist and curator based in London and Tel Aviv. My work focuses on the intersections between art, politics and education and explores how communal spaces affects individuals. I think of art as a powerful tool. One that is used not only to re-think aesthetic languages but also to assemble communities, to build infrastructures, to gather knowledge, and to imagine and create socio-political alternatives, notwithstanding having fun. I often work collectively and in interdisciplinary groups. I find that this enriches my creative process and often result in an outcome that appeals to people outside of the artistic sphere. In recent years, I have collaborated with other artists, activists, architects, politicians and young people.

I studied fine arts at Hamidrasha – Faculty of the Art college in Israel (2009) and did my MA in Visual Sociology at Goldsmiths University of London (2018). In the years 2010 – 2017  I worked as a curator at The Israeli Centre for Digital Art, where I co-foundered the Ulam project (2014-ongoing).

Mai Omer

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Maria Suarez de Cepeda / España
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“Joya: AiR. Llegué a ella sin saber muy bien qué esperar, pero con muchas ganas de experimentarla. Y cuándo por fin estuve allí, ese pedacito de territorio, con tanta personalidad y tanta magia, superó con creces mis expectativas.

Hacía mucho tiempo que no encontraba un lugar donde pudiese sentir tanta calma, donde las preocupaciones marchasen dejando paso a la creatividad, una creatividad regeneradora que llegó a sorprenderme. A pesar de la sorpresa, sé que no hay mucho secreto, pero sí mucho valor; Joya te aporta el tiempo y el espacio tan necesarios para la creación, te acompaña en este proceso con silencios y tiempos más lentos, es mutante y se adaptó a mi en plena transmutación.

Los Gázquez (Joya: AiR) equivale a una gran biblioteca de materiales nuevos y sugerentes: La textura de los troncos de los pinos, las hojas de las encinas, la presión de mis pies penetrando en la arcilla seca, el color de las rocas, la luz del atardecer y del cielo más estrellado que he visto en mi vida, el aire puro, el calor y el chisporrotear del fuego, el sonido del viento moviendo el molino eólico, los ladridos de Frida al oírte llegar y al marchar.

Lo que probablemente menos esperaba era coincidir en un lugar tan remoto con gente tan interesante, tan afín a mí, con preocupaciones, obras y conversaciones tan ricas, que a día de hoy seguimos compartiendo desde diferentes partes del mundo. Joya establece un extraño y perfecto balance entre el retiro y la compañía. Entre inolvidables momentos de libertad individual, desconexión e introspección en medio de la naturaleza o de tu taller; y grandes momentos de acogida, de feedback, de compartir y descubrir intereses alrededor del fuego o del wifi, de comidas deliciosas todos juntos.

Joya es Donna y Simon, su simpatía y talento, enseñándonos con su día a día otra forma de convivir con La Tierra que nos rodea y con nosotros mismos como parte de ella”.

María Suárez de Cepeda

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Sally Stenton / UK
photo Chris Stenton

photo Chris Stenton


“From the house it is possible to walk in all directions. The unevenness of the ground encourages the use of existing tracks. A few routes are compacted with certainty, and become the default entry points into the landscape, before branching sideways at intersections that carry a resemblance to paths inviting human incursion. The house is the returning point, out and back, and the leaving point, a flow of people, coming and going with small intense windows of overlap enabling rich interactions. Connection is fostered by the nourishment of bodies together, within the unfamiliar envelope of pale clay, almond trees and aromatic shrubs. 

I step into the image of the landscape, at first as observer and then then feet sinking into the clay, thorns draw faint lines on my arms and ankles. Loose rocks unsettle the body and the environment begins to absorb me. I press against trees, lie on the earth, drape my body over rocks and assume the shapes of the land. The photographer, caught between landscape and portrait, conspires with the imitation, losing the false sense of where the human body ends and nature begins”. 

Sally Stenton

Joya: AiR at nigh time by Chris Stenton

Joya: AiR at nigh time by Chris Stenton

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Caz Watson / UK
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“As a ‘new genre’ public artist, my work and research explores what motivates and sustains public engagement with social and environmental issues. Through my MFA at Brighton Uni, I developed public schemes which raised awareness for pressing concerns within the local and wider community.

My most recent work, The Home Project, explored how we define home in our contemporary, urban state of constant movement, change and flux. The general public and specific environmentalists, artists and activists worldwide were invited to offer their definition of ‘home’ for the project. The first fifty entries were published in a book for my Degree Show, and the project acts as an ongoing database of thought, continuing to collect definitions from across the world. The project includes words from individuals spanning four continents, and drew contributions from leading environmentalists such as David Karoly, member of the Climate Change Authority, and inspiring individuals such as Jackson Hinkle, who was recently arrested with 150 other young activists for protesting climate policy in Washington DC.

My other Degree Show project, PACT, focused on the plastic pollution crisis locally in Brighton. Staged initially as an event on Brighton’s seafront, with the support of beach-clean charity SAS, PACT invited the community to agree to a ‘pact’ to collect and recycle 5 pieces of plastic on a given day. In its initial form, PACT drew over 300 participants who recycled 1500 pieces of plastic within the space of one week.

The residency at Joya: AiR has given me a unique opportunity to research new projects and ideas, informed by the environmental concerns affecting Los Gázquez. With limited water resources in the desert area, the residency inspired me to research the worldwide water crisis, and to plan a new scheme focused around raising awareness for water consumption. At home in the UK, it is easy to think of water as an infinite resource - we simply turn on a tap and it’s there at our fingertips. But with 700 million people living in areas of water scarcity today, and a projected 4 billion living with water scarcity by 2050, it’s an issue that requires attention, awareness and action.

My experience at Joya: AiR has opened my eyes to new ideas and approaches, surrounded by brilliant, supportive and exciting creatives of all disciplines. I spent most days walking through the surrounding forests and hills, thinking hard about what the coming year could hold, mulling over research and evaluating ideas.

It has really been the best experience I could have asked for - something I desperately needed right after you’re thrown out of the education system at high-speed! I feel more clarity than I have before, and I know it won’t be long before I’m back”.

Caz Watson

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Mia Van Veen Loeb / Norway
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“Winter in the Spanish desert

Driving in from Alicante to Vélez Blanco, I noticed the landscape transitioning from green with hints of orange to an earthy, beige tone. The early spring has made its appearance in Spain this year, making the almond trees bloom with its light pink flowers. I continued on the crooked, hilly roads from the small village into Joya: AiR and met Simon and his dog Frida on the courtyard of the farm. A warm welcome into what was going to be a week of tranquillity, walks, food and lots of-well-JOY.

From the first morning walk, I felt the sculptural imagination getting so many nutrients, my notebook filled up quickly with new ideas. The cracked clay-grounds surrounding the residency property resembling previous works of mine-a landscape living in the dry and raw. Little purple flowers coming up from the cracks, reminding us of the life underneath the surface. Chopping away at almond and olive wood in my quiet studio, followed by beers in the sun with the sweet interns and eventually the other artists who arrived.

The group of artists were well curated, we found links and similar interests between us that lead to good conversations and understandings about the current state of our environment. Almost as if we were working together in a hyper realistic state, side by side- the others process influencing my own. The evenings were filled with warmth from the fire and incredible food made by Donna, good conversations followed by deep sleeps.

Creativeness entered from all angles at this residency, especially trough vivid dreams and the walks around the property. I would highly recommend this place for anyone seeking some creative time in a refreshing, warm and calm environment”.

Mia Van Veen Loeb

Joya: AiR / Anusheh Zia / UK
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“My experience at Joya: AiR was a pivotal moment for my studio practice. Relocating my practice temporarily and allowing it to harmonise with the poetic landscapes of the Sierra Maria-Los Vélez enabled me to to refocus, refuel and reflect on my practice, and presented me with a kaleidoscope of information, experiences and material to delve into my concerns. Donna and Simon have thoughtfully and sensitively crafted an intimate space that nurtures creative exploration, where you can unfold your practice with no other concern. 

I investigated the phenomenon of the “first dawn” that arises prior to the dawn prayer in Islam, Fajr. The “first dawn”, or the “false dawn”, occurs as a transient light appears on the Eastern horizon before it is followed by darkness. Fajr, however, begins from the onset of the “second dawn”, or “true dawn”, which is not followed by darkness, rather the light of the Sun increases. This event can be visualised by a Quranic verse that I came across in my research, “And by the dawn when it breathes” (Qur’an, at-Takwir, 81:18). 

As well as taking photographs at Fajr, I made installations in my studio using clay that I collected from my walks through the dried up ravines and created small-scale interventions in the landscape. I also made installations using limestone dust from the seabed 100 metres below ground, that I collected from an excavation site of a well. The excavation was part of a project at Joya: AiR that had begun during my stay to create an underground water resource and to restore the local agricultural land, once irrigated by water management systems created by the Moors in Andalucía. 

Joya: AiR instilled in my practice a sense of clarity and the tools to interrogate my concerns further, and instilled in myself a heightened appreciation for sustainable living, as the experience at Joya carries a reminder of the human impact on earth and our responsibility to repair and reconstruct it in an environmentally-friendly way. 

Thank you Donna and Simon for a truly unique and humbling experience, and for making a studio of dreams! I’m excited for Joya’s future and I look forward to following how it evolves”.

Anusheh Zia

Joya: AiR / Michalina Klasik / Poland
photo simon beckmann

photo simon beckmann


“I came here to complete and sum up a project I’ve started few months ago.  It consists of a series of objects, drawings, non-invasive actions in space, which create a personal story about fear of destructive human activity towards nature. They oppose the anthropocentric concept of the world and try to talk about the Earth as the only proper “religion”. Talk about the search for balance and spirituality in contact with nature. About the burden of knowledge, the sense of helplessness, attempts to do “good” and the failures associated with it.

At Joya: AiR, I had the opportunity to rethink the whole project and discuss it with others.

Staying here is an experience that can not be fully expressed in words. There is real silence and space here. All this allows to communicate with yourself, to hear what you really want to say. But there are also moments when you can confront your reflections with people with similar sensitivity, knowledge about ecology and attempts to live in a way appropriate to this knowledge. One speaks and listens. I have experienced so intensely the possibility of hearing myself and others here. And what I have heard, confirms my conviction, that for me the most important thing now is to get involved in art, which asks:

Who am I as a human being?

The stay in this place allowed me to gather strength to ask this question loudly and confidently".


Donna and Simon - thank you”.


Michalina W. Klasik

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Alma Bohn / Germany
photo simon beckmann

photo simon beckmann


“One of the things that made the greatest impression on me during my stay at Los Gazquez (Joya) was the stillness. The lack of constant man-made noise gave my mind more space than usual to focus, wander and explore itself. I also really enjoyed going on walks and exploring the fields, ravines and hills surrounding the farm. The flora and fauna is very different to where I live, and I enjoyed finding twigs (they all had tiny lines twisted around them) much more than I probably should have. On most days when I woke up and looked out of my window, the clouds were extremely low, sort of like blankets for the hills, which I thought was really beautiful.

Being around lovely, inspired people, from whom a learnt a lot, has encouraged me greatly. At the moment I’m still experimenting and figuring out where I want to go with my art. The other residents, as well as Simon and Donna, opened my eyes more and showed me that there are endless possibilities, and that it’s important to trust myself and go for it. Not to mention Frida, the giant puppy. I’m still trying to figure out how to achieve even half of her energy and bounciness. I guess being a puppy probably helps… Anyway, I had a really nice time at Joya. It truly is a beautiful place that Donna and Simon have created, and I think everyone who leaves takes a little of its spark with them. I know I have and I am ever so grateful for that”.

Alma Bohn

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Maria Prestmo / Norway

photo: simon beckmann

Joya: AiR

“I arrived at  Cortijada Los Gázquez (Joya: AiR) late one November evening. In the middle of this alpine desert of southern Spain these five beautifully restored farm houses suddenly reveal themselves in front of me. Houses filled with beautiful and strange objects from around the world. 

I structured my days by photographing at sunrise and sunset, and in the time between I went walking in the mountains, the valleys or the barrancos taking in the breathtaking view, the silence and the immense smell of thyme, rosemary and lavender. In the afternoon I read books and wrote small texts before I photographed by sunset, ending each session by sitting on a chair on the back of the houses. I loved sitting there contemplating. At 9 o’clock each evening we ate the most wonderful dinners with Donna, Simon and the other artists. And just before bedtime Simon put on his French music in the kitchen. I loved that. You actually can find Joya: AiR playlists at Spotify where they encourage the artists to make a playlist with 10 of their favourite songs. What a great idea!

The days went both fast and slow at the same time, and I am leaving full of inspiration and warmth. I normally photograph people. On this stay I was forced to look at the nature to photograph, the nature is so close to you out there and there were not too many people there. That made me think of my projects in another way. The hosts Donna and Simon have this lovely balance between making you feel like home and at the same time leaving you alone. That made the stay so great. Thank you Donna and Simon for letting me come to this place “out of time”.

I made a visual diary of my stay at Instagram @mariaprestmo and of course a playlist at Spotify…”

Maria Prestmo

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Benjamin Robinson / Australia
Benjamin Robinson

Benjamin Robinson


“Joya: AiR has provided a platform for me to experiment with my photographic practice in a truly refreshing environment. As I am currently based in Sydney, I applied for a two-week residency back in February as I also intended to spend time travelling throughout Spain beforehand. After jumping between the major cities for the best part of a month, I could sense that I was in for a fascinating residency by the breathtaking mountain ranges which were visible along the bus ride from Granada. I was greeted by Simon at Vélez Rubio and felt instantly welcome into the Joya: AiR community. The living spaces of the house allowed for the perfect platform from which creativity and experimentation could develop. The sense of cleanliness, comfort and modern sustainable design has played a major part in my creative thinking and freedom throughout my stay. 

Each day I explored new regions within the seemingly boundless surroundings of the property. At first I climbed up rigorous formations of rock and clay to reach the peak of the highest (immediately) surrounding mountain. The vista of the Sierra de María-Los Vélez Natural Park was so magnificent that I chose not to photograph it; I felt I had to consider more about this natural environment before devising a way to document it. The following few days saw me explore the nearby barranco, a naturally formed ravine which winds deep into the rugged forestation. I found inspiration from the endless sense of freeformity, and the timeless array of fossils scattered along the dry clay surface. Walking through barranco each day provided me with a fresh headspace which I could bring back into the studio at the house. I have been experimenting with watercolour ink painting, a process which has not previously been part of my practice. Joya: AiR has offered a platform for me to explore new modes of creation inspired by the dense, purely natural environment that surrounds the property. The landscape has offered a creative challenge in the sense that every area you visit is not exactly that of a ‘post-card’ picture. However, I have felt as though my creative process has been revitalized by the ability to experiment with new processes in response to my personal meditation of the vast natural surroundings. I look forward to returning to this incredible place in the future in the hope that I can one day I experience this refreshing state of mind once again”. 

Benjamin Robinson

Joya: AiR / Mark Rammers / Holland

“One day while traveling through Spain I took a wrong exit and ended up on a polígono industrial, an industrial zone. I was surprised by the beautiful shapes and colours hidden in this seemingly ordinary place. This was the starting point of my abstract photography project ‘Extra Ordinary’.

After a number of publications and exhibitions I started looking for a more powerful narrative in my work. Following a necessary break from photography, I now focus on visiting places that have been designed to drive the social-economic and industrial growth of a region and document the (often heavy and destructive) impact they have on the environment. Besides this I document my travels through the different countries I visit, often looking at common places and uncommon situations, inspired by photographers like Stephen Shore and William Eggleston and the ‘New Topographics’ movement.

I came to Joya: AiR to think about the direction of my current and future projects, play around with other creative ideas and at the same time take a break from city life. It’s been an incredibly inspiring week in a stunning place made possible by great people.

Instagram: @markrammers

Joya: AiR / Tere Chad / Chile

“Two years ago, I was having my first solo exhibition. I was showcasing my handcrafted jewellery collection ‘Fusion – Haka Piri’ at Aukara Gallery in Easter Island. In that trip, I had the opportunity to see Toki, a music and arts school that attempts to protect their heritage and the environment. The architect from this school is Michael Reynolds, the ‘Garbage Warrior’, known for his Earthship constructions and promoting sustainability. I remember sharing lunch from a pot with volunteers from all over the world that where helping to construct this school. Who could possibly imagine that you could have such inspiring discussions about sustainability in the most isolated island of the world?

            In that trip, I also had the chance to meet Cristián Arévalo Pakarati, Co-Director of EISP (Easter Island Statue Project). Cristián took me around the Island explaining me each archaeological remain and how their civilisation had collapsed through wasting all natural resources. Thus, there is an abyss between reading a report warning us from possible Climate Change consequences than actually experiencing the desolation of a place that was destroyed by humans. You suddenly realise, that is not a ‘Green Alarmist Fairy Tale’ the fact that we’re probably the only species able of extinguishing everything.

            That trip was quite enlightening and changed the way I was reflecting onwards my practice. I started questioning myself how could I as an artist invite people to re-think the way we consume and relate to the environment. How can we find a balance among reassessing our haptic (tactile) sensitivity and incorporating new technologies? How do we face the Anthropocene? Maybe, part of the solution, is as simple as going back to the basics and reconnecting to the earth.

            Later on, I moved to London, that must be one of the most creatives cities on the one hand, but with space and weather limitations to work outdoors on the other hand. Therefore, applied for the residency in Joya: AiR, Andalucía. I wrote an email to Simon vaguely explaining my idea, and asked him to collect glass bottles. The first time I went in June with classmates from the MA Arts and Science from Central Saint Martins. I began just with a couple of sketches and the image in my mind, but didn’t even knew how to make cob. Simon lent me his shovel and garden tools and taught how to make cob mixing clay, water and hay. With a bit of a back ache and hard work in collaboration with my sister and Olga Suchanova we managed to finish ‘The Re-Enlightment’ sculpture in 5 days.

            When leaving, I realised my sculpture might not resist the winter, hence decided to come back in October with Olga who had left pinhole cameras in the outside and inside to study how would the light play on the sculpture.

            In this second trip we were more focused, we needed to find the eco-friendliest solution to make the sculpture water proof. Again, Simon came up with the inspiration and suggested to cover it with beeswax diluted with linseed oil and pure turpentine. After a couple of days melting wax in bain-marie and without smartphone connection, I really had the space to reflect upon how do I want go to the next step on my practice.

            The Re-Enlightment, is not only an aesthetical piece, in opposition to conceptual individualistic arts, requires collaboration and the involvement of a community on its construction process. Is a monument that makes a recycling statement and invites to rethink if the rational ideas of the Enlightenment really brought us the wealth we wanted. It attempts to give the new light for our society, even seeming alive as the bottles make a nice eco when the wind blows. It is a piece that speaks about the urge of not forgetting our ability of sensing the world through our hands, and not forgetting that our planet is alive”.

Tere Chad





Tere Chad @ Joya: AiR

Tere Chad @ Joya: AiR


Chilean artist and creative inventor based in London. Strongly concerned about sustainability and promoting Latin American art abroad, she is a Co-Founder of the Latinos Creative Society at the University of the Arts London.

Through her mixed media practice, she exposes how touch screen technologies detach us from our tactile instincts and empowers the society of the spectacle. She attempts to invite us to try to find a healthy balance between reassessing haptic sensitivity and approaching new technologies.

She has had 5 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 15 collective shows in 4 different continents, highlighting: Hanga Roa – Easter Island, Santiago – Chile (Decorative Arts Museum, Fundación Cultural de Providencia), London – England (Tate Modern – Tate Exchange, Royal Society, Gordon Museum, Clifford Chance), Leeds – England (Central Library), Barcelona – Spain (Convent dels Àngels – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona), Bucharest – Romania, Massachusetts – United States, Chengdu – China (Sichuan University Art Museum).

Recently graduated from MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London; has just commenced the MA Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London, where she pretends to research for sustainable solution in sculptural practices, and how this could positively impact on the public space.