Posts tagged uk arts
Joya: AiR / Fay Stevens / UK

“I am a site-specific artist, writer, curator and archaeologist who combines academic enquiry with artistic philosophy. My work transects the boundaries between art and science, it is a philosophy that draws upon phenomenology as a theoretical and methodological tool and is engaged with sensory response to and perception of place and elements.  Much of my work is informed by the act of walking, cartography and topography as well as the element of water[1].  It is also concerned with the environment and the interplay between nature and culture.  I came to Joya AiR with four sketchbooks of varying size and style, charcoal, sketching pens and camera with no other expectation other than knowing that what I would create would be about these parameters of my work and, more specifically, about place”.


“What followed was a two week immersion into the landscape, daily walks, drawing and writing.  I became attuned to the topography of the land, its hill profiles and the shape of the valley of La Hoya de Carrascal.  I climbed the high points of Sierra Larga and Las Almohallas and frequently traversed the low-lying barranco, the Rambla de Cajar. Walking, according to the writer Rebecca Solnit, is how the body ‘measures itself against the earth’[2], while the anthropolost Tim Ingold suggests that landscape can enter into our ‘muscular consciousness’[3].  This form walking is what I call an embodied cartography, a method in which the body perceives and understands place. As time passed and my connections to the landscape became more nuanced, I started to shape my movements according to the sensual characteristics of the winds of the Sirocco and the Levante (also known as the Solano). In the evenings, I would tilt my sight upwards and watch the lágrimas de San Lorenzo, the Perseid  meteors  dart across the clear, star illuminated sky whilst listening to the acoustic resonance of two scops owls calling from deep within the landscape. As much as my body recalled place, so the landscape recalled my presence in it. I encountered my perfectly preserved footprints along obscure routes that I had walked in previous days. I sat on boulders that remained clear of dust and debris from when I first positioned myself there and I navigated my way by visually wayfinding the particular characteristics of hill shapes and topographic features. I walked with a goat, who showed me pathways along mountain ridges and guided me through routes out of deep crevices and dense forests.  And, as a walked, I became increasingly aware of being in an ancient landscape where others have been before me and of water and the environmental, social and cultural importance of it.  I recalled Simon showing me the ancient hydrology system that is still visible in the landscape, I spent time with an alder tree that grows where a relic water source once flourished and I repeatedly walked a complex dry fluvial system, a negative space carved into the land and shaped by the action of moving water.   Cortijada Los Gazquez (home of Joya: AiR) lies at a confluence of elements, time and space filling the night sky and shaping the contours of the land.  It has many topographical stories to tell”.

“Joya: AiR / Joya: arte + ecología, is a truly international programme.  During my residency I had the great pleasure of working alongside incredible artists from Argentina, The Netherlands, Portugal, America and the UK.  There is something rather profound in creating an environment in which people come together to work and have space to think and create. We gathered in the evening over dinner, sharing stories, talking about our work and enjoying nourishing times of collegial creative conversations.   What Simon and Donna have created, along with their twins Soli and Sesi (and during my residency the wonderful volunteer and artist Gwenda Jakobs), is a remarkable setting and a unique and immensely rewarding experience for artists”.


[1] Stevens, F. 2008. Elemental Interplay: the production, circulation and deposition of Bronze Age metalwork in Britain and Ireland. World Archaeology 40/2, 238-252.

[2] Solnit, R. 2001.  Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Verso Books

[3] Ingold, T. 2000. The Perception of the Environment. Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Routledge Books


Fay Stevens

Joya: AiR / Sam Dobson / UK

“One thing that Joya: AiR taught me to do in such a short amount of time, was to allow myself time and space. Time away from the distractions and complications of everyday life, and space to breathe: to reconnect with myself. Once I had these two elements, the core beliefs within my art practice and even in myself, began to rise to the surface of my mind from my subconscious.

I came to Joya: AiR the week after my BA Fine Art degree show, and although I found the transition from art school to Joya: AiR to be very different and often daunting at times, it has pushed me to realise new starting points and allowed me to meet innovative and interesting creatives from all over the world. My practice has shifted and explored various avenues of interest, and I now have the solid foundations to develop on in the future.

I am very thankful to Donna and Simon for such a rich and fruitful opportunity to test my practice out in an environment opposite to the bustling northern city I am used to”.


Sam Dobson

Joya: AiR / Fred Hubble / UK

‘I am looking out of the window of my room at Los Gázquez (home of Joya: AiR) at an olive tree in the courtyard, which has recently started to bloom. It is gently blowing in the cool afternoon wind. I recall a conversation I had with Simon earlier today, I too have an olive tree at home that flowers and also yields small fruit scant enough to make a teaspoon of olive oil. I am reminded that both trees are of the same species but belong to profoundly different climates. This relationship is something I felt a great kinship to during my time at JOYA. To inhabit such a severe environment through an art practice is in stark contrast to the bucolic soft landscapes of the West Midlands. The overwhelming beauty and scale of the environment that surrounds you here sets a challenge for your creativity, the gestures I came to perform in the barrancos (ravine), down the many paths and fire breaks in the trees, were reflections on an environment and an ecological situation that revealed itself very slowly to me over the natural course of the days.

Here in the Sierra María you follow the sun rather than the clock, the days seem to stretch and fill at an indeterminate rate as a natural existence.

I arrived expecting arid desert, wandering over white washed limestone plains, and was greeted by brilliant red poppies and rich vegetation. A three-year drought broken a few months prior to my arrival left vast fields of poppies and other ephemeral flowers running wild along the contours of the topography. After many conversations with all of the Beckmanns I came to understanding the work I was making, through arriving with virtually no materials the ephemera of the environment and the environment itself proved the richest and fertile material I could want. It was no longer about making something in the environment but to pass through it with the lightest of touches. I found myself during the nights unable to sleep through the bizarre dreams that I was having consistently, this place itself feels like a waking dream, I am returning to England with many pieces of work, a box of pine needles and a newly founded research to follow. I can only hope to return very soon to realise that this waking dream was no mirage’.

Fred Hubble

Joya: AiR / Benjamin Deakin / UK

“I generally prefer not to make too many plans before doing residencies and let ideas develop out of the experiences I have on them instead. In the course of several walking and cycling trips in the area around Los Gázquez I was struck by the conjunction of forest, crags and the geometric forms created by the agricultural practices in the area. Particularly the rows of almond and olive trees set agains the softly shaded earth of the fields. Geometric and abstract forms crop up regularly within the landscape structure of my paintings. I also enjoyed exploring the Barrancos, each twist and turn becoming a minute landscape in itself, a child’s eye view of the world.

This prompted me to try something which I have wanted to do for a long time but had never found the right environment for. I made various geometric props in the studio using some leftover building materials I found here combined with the rudimentary materials I had brought with me. I then carried these to the Barranco and set up a series of stage-like arrangements within these micro-landscapes. I am looking forward to using the photographs of these small installations as starting points for paintings and drawings back in London, but the process itself is something I would like to try again in different environments and with different materials”.

Ben Deakin

Joya: AiR / Alan Franklin / UK

‘Way back in the early 70’s on day one of the sculpture course at St. Martins School of Art we were simply given ½ cwt slab of clay and told to work with it, to use no other materials other than a base board and not to exchange clay with other students. No further instructions or staff input was given for the duration of the five-day project.

Similar minimal projects followed and I found I enjoyed the constraints and sense of challenge these tasks presented. One could have no preconceived intentions,but had to rely on spontaneous improvisation, play and invention. This particular strategy seemed to suit me and I learned a confidence in exploring materials and ideas and not knowing quite where they were going. Content could be uncovered rather than prescribed. I began to recognize that the outcome and reward I was seeking was surprise, and through a process of play and interrogation I could arrive at a place I had not been before.

So many years later and with a much older head on I now find that residencies can take me back to that first day at St. Martins. Parachuted from my familiar studio into a new environment without my usual panoply of tools and tried and tested processes I enjoy the same sense of challenge and anticipation of surprise and discovery.

Residencies in remote locations such as Baer in Iceland, Café Tissardmine in Morocco and Joya: AiR in Andalusia amplify the challenge and inevitably force more surprising inventions. The isolation brings a focus and the unique landscape a new and particular inspiration. To have no plan or project seems to work best for me. I like to just arrive and respond to what is there. I have acquired a faith that something will happen’.

Alan Franklin

Joya: AiR / Merissa Weatherhead / UK

‘During the spring of 2016 I had been working on a theme titled ‘A Table in the Garden,’  which involved putting objects on a tabletop in an outside environment. This was to challenge the idea of a traditional approach to Still Life painting.

I planned to explore this theme during my residency at Joya, with the title now slightly changed to ‘A Table in the Sun’. I brought paper, charcoal and an iPad, I only had a week and knew this time would be precious in developing and reevaluating ideas and ways to move forward with my work.

When I arrived at Joya in March 2017I felt a beautiful sense of calm and honest simplicity here, found in the environment and an unspoken understanding of creativity that needs time.

I found the landscape humbling and hauntingly beautiful. Out of this white clay, a great pine forest covers the mountains and in the valleys, farmers grow almond trees which were just coming into bloom with their pink and white delicate flowers. So beautiful and mesmerising were these almond trees with their dark trunks and pretty flowers against the blue sky, it was tempting to draw them but I found myself looking down into the white of the stones that covered the earth

 I have returned to the UK full of inspiration, my ‘Table’ has been upturned and I’m already working on a series of paintings from the drawings I made at Joya: AiR, it was a wonderful residency, so precious, in so many ways..

Thank you Simon and Donna for giving me the opportunity to share a little piece of Joya: AiR as an artist in residence.

Joya: AiR / Tristan Gooley / UK

‘We hack through thickets of doubt and disquiet in search of a land of satisfying work. If we are lucky enough to find this place, then we settle. But soon some new nemesis rises opposite: sameness, a monster with three ugly heads – boredom, apathy and restlessness. Joya is the castle that contains the potion that slays the monster.

It has been a thrill to explore the rich, dry landscapes that surround Joya. And a privilege to do it with such talented and inspirational people. Thank you Simon and Donna for creating a unique place in sympathy with this wild environment. The building is an an artwork, the drawing together of diverse souls with like minds, a treasure.

In the end, the monster was finished off with a thousand cuts, each one a small step up a steep mountainside with new friends. And it was laid to rest under almond blossoms. Flowers that pointed south, to the sun’.

Tristan Gooley

Tristan Gooley is an author and natural navigator. Joya: arte + ecología has been a follower of his work and research for several years so we were particularly pleased to receive his research proposal.

Tristan set up his natural navigation school in 2008 and is the author of the award-winning and bestselling books, The Natural Navigator, The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues & Signs and How to Read Water, three of the world’s only books covering natural navigation.

Tristan has led expeditions in five continents, climbed mountains in Europe, Africa and Asia, sailed small boats across oceans and piloted small aircraft to Africa and the Arctic. He has walked with and studied the methods of the Tuareg, Bedouin and Dayak in some of the remotest regions on Earth.

He is the only living person to have both flown solo and sailed singlehanded across the Atlantic and is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographical Society.