Posts tagged painting
Joya: AiR / Anahita Akhavan / Iran

“When I first arrived at Cortijada Los Gázquez (Joya: AiR), I took a long deep breath, filled my lungs with the unique scent of the land- a fusion of lavender and rosemary. I inhaled, the almond trees, mountains and let the wind whisper in my ear. Immediately felt the narratives of the previous settlers in my head, their struggles with drought and water scarcity. During my days at the residency, I consciously allowed myself to immerse in the irrational quality of inspiration. I felt the urgency to create a direct and a primitive contact with the rough, arid yet serene landscape of Los Gázquez. I wanted to investigate how it feels to temporarily settle in this raw unfathomable territory.

I wanted to explore oil pastels on paper, something that I never used before in my practice. I was hoping that I could start a new body of work with an unfamiliar material as a response to my experience of being in a new territory. I chose oil pastels for the simplicity and immediacy in its pigmentation to articulate a new gaze toward my present time and space. While working with oil pastels I discovered an alternative aspect to my painting approach; this time I started to represent the landscape through simple shapes and colors. I became interested in the sharp vivid colors of oil pastels, psychedelic cadmium yellow on a cobalt blue ground could only depict the raw organic nature of Los Gázquez for me. 

What I gained at the residency was a different pathway of thinking in my practice. The people, architecture, and nature they all planted new seeds of contemplation in me. When I left the residency I felt content and blessed. I appreciate what Donna and Simon have created for artists and I am incredibly grateful for my experience at Joya: AiR”.

Anahita Akhavan

Joya: AiR / Melanie Moczarski / New York /USA

"This was my second residency at Joya: AiR. A year earlier, I had come and found that this wonderful space presented for me a new way of working, a fluidity with new and available materials that provided spontaneous ideas and experimentation.

The unlimited access to the clay that forms the ground as far as the eye can see was the material I knew I wanted to work with during my residency.

The Beckmann's were incredibly generous, providing me with space in their terraced garden to create a sculptural space meant to be physically interacted with. Three, separate areas to sit or lay on came to life through trial and error, and gave me an opportunity to become more acquainted with the textures and weights of the land. 

It was a truly transformative learning experience to work in this way, and this was only a fraction of what I bring home with me after this residency. 

This is a place of great beauty on every level, and it’s the people I shared with that brought the experience to life. The dinners with Simon, Donna, and the other residents, time spent in the different spaces of their home exchanging ideas and evolving my own, and the space to connect with myself and others outside of the context of my day to day life and my sense of my practice were nothing short of precious.

This is a place I will return to for as long as the Beckmann's will have me".


Melanie Moczarski

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 / 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