Joya: AiR / Anna Macleod / Ireland

Anna Macleod is an October artist in residence and collaborator with Joya: arte + ecología.

Anna is a visual artist and independent researcher based in rural Northwest Ireland. She is a former lecturer in Fine Art Media and Programme Chair of the Fine Art Programme at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

‘My work uses quasi-scientific methods, trans-disciplinary collaboration, performance and activism to critique contemporary landscapes and re-vision the future. I am interested in the potential of art to bring about social and environmental change.

Recent projects have focused on the socio-political and cultural issues surrounding water, looking at local and global questions of access, management, control and consumption of this finite substance.

Following a month research period at Joya: arte + ecología last year I am experimenting with sculptural water catchment forms to capture dew and rain fall. In this arid climate with unpredictable rain patterns and seasonal dew fall, it is hoped that the sculptures will multifunction by harvesting dew and channelling rainfall to help irrigate the terraced forest gardens facing northeast.’

Careful monitoring of the system will, over the period of a year, give some data as to the effectiveness of the sculptures in both gathering atmospheric vapour and channelling rainfall to the terrace / swale system under construction at Cortijada Los Gázquez the home of Joya: arte + ecología.

We will be updating progress of Anna’s residency and progress over the coming month.

Joya: AiR/ writer in residence / Santiago Rodriguez Tarditi

Santiago is a 31-year-old Colombian-Italian journalist born to a Brazilian mother, an ethnic and intellectual mix that triggered his passion for food and travel from a young age. He has lived in six different countries and visited forty-three. “I feel blessed for having been able to meet people from different parts of the globe, understand their customs, beliefs, and cultures. It has been paramount in my vision of the world, very important in my formation as a writer and reporter”, he says.

Currently working at Fusion, a digital platform owned by Univision —the USA’s leading Hispanic network and one of the biggest media outlets in the country— Santiago previously ran Monocle’s Americas Bureau from NYC and worked at Publicaciones Semana in Bogotá.

He’s a true believer of the significance that soft power and cultural diplomacy have as key pillars in the construction of a contemporary society. As a board member at Faena Art —the cultural branch of the Faena organization in Argentina and the USA—, Santiago has been witness to the role that open and participatory art, music, dance, and literature, play in bridging gaps and building bridges within a community.

He’s visiting Joya: AiR to work on his first novel, a fictional account of modern-day relationships (particularly friendship) in the digital era. “The natural surroundings, unobstructed views, and the warmth of the house, make it a great source of inspiration”, says Santiago. “It’s almost like this particular location was destined to gather artists and thinkers — I reckon that historically it has been a meeting place for the minds. This house has a special energy; it feels as if  it’s serving its purpose”.


Joya: AiR / University of the Arts London ‘Art for the Environment’ award / Nana Maiolini

Less is More: 12 Days In Joya: arte + ecología

It feels difficult to report the experience I had in the residency at Joya: arte + ecología. Although it was an insightful one, which nurtured me a lot, it seems I am still digesting it. Perhaps that is because somehow it has not finished yet, once its outputs are still in progress.

Before arriving at Cortijada Los Gázquez at Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez I only had a vague idea of the dynamic of the place and of how my project would be developed over there. Aware that I would only find it out in situ, I tried to prepare myself as much as I could. In my suitcase I was bringing a couple of books, my equipment and some objects that I imagined to make work with. Arriving in Granada, though, I have been told that my luggage was lost and that the airline company could not guarantee the exact delivery date.

Spending the first week with only few clothes and part of the equipment would have been an unfortunate beginning, unless it did not allow me a deeper exchange with the place I was inserted in. As Rauschenberg said, “when you are lost you look so much harder”.[1]

My initial project was based on an ambiguous sensation of missing the natural environment from my home country, which had been strong since I moved to London one year ago.[2] The nostalgia of having a lifestyle in Brazil, which was more integrated with nature than I have been able to do recently, was combined with an anger provoked by facts regarding the huge devastation there. I was particularly struck by the recent disaster caused by the collapse of a mining dam in a Minas Gerais, which created an enormous environmental impact. The strong image of the mud invading villages, rivers and the sea was attached to my memory about Brazil and generated the need to produce a work of that.

In this residency, I wanted to approach this double relation to the environment, between a certain healing that nature can promote and the environmental disaster. Inspired by De Maria’s manifesto On the Importance of Natural Disasters, in which he states that natural catastrophes ‘may be the highest form of art possible to experience’, I was interested in this same force that can be both generative and destructive – whether producing an artwork or a disaster. Intending to avoid making a spectacle out of the images of the disaster in Minas Gerais, my initial proposition was to try and create experiments using the sound of the explosion plus sounds that would be recorded during the residency.

Although I was interested in that Brazilian landscape, after my arrival in Andalucía it became clear that it would be more sincere to react to this place rather than evoking something that was not present. The lack of the specific material I was planning to use also pushed me to detach from my previous plans and to throw myself to the experience of the place itself.

Yet the landscape in Sierra de María-Los Vélez Natural Park is astonishingly beautiful, it has been suffering from centuries of human unsustainable occupation plus the consequences of climate change. The agricultural practices, such as monoculture farming, as well as the arid climate and lack of rains have been causing a severe process of desertification.

Amid that area, though, Cortijada Los Gázquez is a pole of renovation. Restored from an abandoned complex of five dwellings, the residence is constituted by bright and generous spaces, designed in resonance with local architectural tradition. The off-grid energy system makes use of the abundant sunlight and wind that characterise the site. Inside the house, the loving family members Donna, Simon, Sesame and Solomon make the artists-in-residency feel like home.

[1] ‘I don’t necessarily desire a perfect photography’. Interview by Alain Sayag (1981), in Robert Rauschenberg Photographs, Pantheon Books, New York.

[2] My practice as an artist is mostly based on research and perception of territories. Having a camera, an audio recorder and my body as main tools, I work across different media, including film, performance and installation. For the development of a new work, I would describe my research method as similar to Suely Rolnik’s definition of the cartographer’s practice. In her words, ‘the cartographer does not intend to explain or reveal. What they want is to dive into the geography of affects and to invent bridges of language to make their crossing. (My translation). Rolnik, S. (1989) Cartografia Sentimental: Transformações contemporâneas do desejo. São Paulo: Editora Estação Liberdade.


Joya: AiR / University of the Arts London ‘Art for the Environment’ award / Matt Parker

“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes of photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars” (Mandel, 2015: 32)

I spent a fortnight in the company of the Beckmann family at El Cortijada de Los Gázquez (home of Joya: arte + ecología), in an alpine desert, living at 1000m above sea level in the Parque Natural Sierra María – Los Vélez. In the spring of 2016, I applied to the Art for the Environment International Residency Programme (AER) run by Professor Lucy Orta at the University of the Arts London. The award was for a number of research-led artist residencies to take place across the world for existing and recently graduated UAL students. I was about half way into my first year of a PhD programme at London College of Communication, studying within Creative Research into Sound Art Practice (CRiSAP) research centre.

What struck me about the opportunity to visit Los Gázquez was the idea of spending two weeks off-grid. Two weeks without. Two weeks disconnected. What might two weeks offline do for me? To me? What did off-grid mean? What kind of systems would be in place to live an off-grid sustainable life with a family (two adults, two children in a non-native country).

I was also interested in studying the environment of Los Gázquez as an off grid site. Far from any built up metropolitan centre, far from where I tend to spend most of my life, in the anthropogenic urban wash of cars, generators, ambulance sirens and helicopters, impossible to distinguish one source of noise from the next. I wondered what a rural and open landscape might offer as an alternative field to my listening and recording practice.

My application for the residency was based around some of my PhD research questions. My research is based around what I call ‘sonospheric investigations’ into media infrastructures. That is to say, that I try and listen to a whole gamut of frequencies, using air-borne and land-borne transducers, converting vibrations into digital signals that can then be converted into sound from loudspeakers. I centre this listening practice around the internal and external architecture of media infrastructures (data centres, fibre optic cable landing sites, satellite and telecommunication receivers etc). I am interested in how the Internet and its related infrastructures vibrate across the globe as a physical material network; the ‘medianatures’ of the Internet, to paraphrase Jussi Parikka.

At Los Gázquez, I wanted to experience being disconnected from the internet but I also wanted to study the infrastructure of an off grid site. Data Centres in particular are the hub for the global Internet network and as such are huge consumers of energy. Many of the world’s biggest companies operate them (Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft etc). They are a huge burden to the electrical grid of their surrounding area; it is estimated that they use an equivalent energy requirement to that of the aviation industry and as such, they are a significant site for ecological, socio-political and environmental concern, as well as a significant site of property rights, concepts of the self, the posthuman, the cyborg, the Anthropocene and of provenance and rights in the digital age.

My research led me to analyse the noise of such sites as representative of waste. The noise, generally being vibrations caused by industrial scale HVAC systems, fanning hot exhaust air into often cold climates (in the northern regions of Scandinavia for example).

Recently, I have been studying a site that Apple have been in protracted negotiations for over a year to build a data centre in. It is in the Derrydonnell forest in County Galway, Ireland, close to the small but well known medieval town of Athenry. Apple claim they will use exclusively 100% wind energy from the grid. I was confused but fascinated at such a claim given how estimates are that the data centre once fully operational is expected to require around 8% of the entire Irish grid’s energy allocation (more than the capital city Dublin).

And so I began to wonder what exactly does sustainability mean? What does sustainable energy mean? How sustainable is the technology used that is claimed to be ‘zero carbon’? Surely it is made full of components built as a result of intensive land destruction and mining; the production of rare earth minerals and metals for example to produce microchips, lithium-ion and lead batteries.

I am not interested in becoming a Luddite and thankfully neither are the Beckmann’s at Los Gázquez. They are interested in doing the best they can to maintain a good quality of life in as off-grid and sustainable way as they possibly can, investigating the possibilities of land reclamation, and returning to sustainable measures of living without burying their heads in the sand and without harking back to some kind of golden age that never existed. They are progressive and thoughtful about how they can make a positive and ecologically sensitive impact on Los Gázquez.

I spent most of my days field recording and creating a library of sounds, produced according to my own initial intrigue and then later, according to the sounds that the residents here associate with living in Los Gázquez. The library comprises goats, crickets, sheep, vultures, wind turbines, water pumps, photovoltaic panels, clay fizzing with water, children playing games, people eating dinner, flip flops across the concrete floor, diesel generators, a Land Rover, the silence on top of a mountain, electromagnetic noise from battery stores, electromagnetic interference from a phone attempting to connect to a distant and patchy 4G signal, helicopters, jumbo jets and much more. The collection of recordings put the environment at the centre of my thinking but I am thinking of the environment as the things that surround us as we exist. This is not a study of nature versus culture. For me the urban dweller, Los Gázquez and the surrounding area feels remote but the family home has electricity, Wi-Fi from a satellite uplink that connects to a suborbital network and bounces back to an exchange in Italy, and the landscape surrounding la Cortijada de Los Gázquez has signs of anthropogenic activity everywhere, from the terraced abandoned farm land to the water catchment systems, to the artificial walls and tributaries built within the Barrancos (water drainage, fluvial systems drawing down from the mountainside).

I have been on many walks into the relative ‘wilderness’ of the Parque Natural Sierra María on my own, taking a bearing and just going for it. Listening carefully to changes in sound, the flies, the trees, the wind, the nothingness, the everything-ness. I have recorded infrasonic vibrations with geophones, contact transducer microphones on vibrating bodies of metal, stereo microphone recordings of my position in the landscape and electromagnetic frequencies with coil-tap transducers. I’m not sure what to do with this collection other than listen to it and think about how it might relate to my other work on the urban and black site data centre spaces of my existing research. How does a site like this challenge my conceptions of isolation, off grid? How many miles do I need to travel in Ireland to locate somewhere away from any kind of anthropogenic noise like I can here… Let alone London?

Being disconnected from the internet… How I tried… How temptation pulled me back in… How on my fourth day, whilst marching up a mountain first thing in the morning, on my own, where I managed to see a fox, two vultures and an Ibex in their natural habitats, I became more intrigued by suddenly picking up a full strength 4G signal. How whilst thinking about life in a post-apocalyptic world, where petrol had gone stale, the grid was disconnected and the internet was just a myth, my field recorder started bleeping to the interference of a roaming mobile data signal and a sudden emergence of a low flying helicopter passed over me. How, even at my most isolated, I was never far away from signs of human activity, whether it be signs from the past 30-40 years or in the past 300-400 years. The marks were everywhere.

It has been an absolutely incredible experience. I look forward to working through my recordings and thoughts, and the journal that I have been keeping which I will publish on my website at over the coming weeks, with processed recordings, pictures and videos. A log of work in progress, a diary of thoughts, and a documentation of research activity in this dry, barren and utterly beautiful landscape.

I would like to extend my thanks to my hosts, Donna, Simon, Sesame and Solomon for being so welcoming. Their life here, as English expats, who have stepped up to a fascinating and difficult challenge of living in a radical and rural setting just north of the small town of Vélez-Blanco is truly inspirational. My thanks also go to the fellow artists and guests who have been here during my stay, Dayna, Elena, Melissa, Nana, Nigel, Anna, Peter and a special thanks to Abbie who without her… I wouldn’t have got completely lost one day when failing to find an ancient cave painting that was allegedly in plain sight.


Mandel, Emily St. John. (2015). Station Eleven. Picador, Pan Macmillan, London, UK.

Parikka, Jussi. (2015). A Geology of Media. Minnesota University Press, Minnesota, US.

Double Self Split / Melissa Marks / opening concert by Javier Serrano López

Javier comienza sus estudios de guitarra a los 8 años, en el conservatorio ‘Narcisco Ypes’ de Lorca, banjo la tutelar de Ignacio Portillo, Juan López y Guillermo Grau.

Posteriormente en 2012, accede al ‘Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Granada’, en la especialidad de Interpretación de Guitarra de mano del maestro y reconocido guitarrista de tell internacional David Martínez García. Comienza y termina la carrera de música co este dando clases en Granada y en el Conservatorio Superior de Música de Málaga.

En este periodo, además impartirá Masterclass de los reconocidos guitarists Joaquín Clerch, Zoran Dukic o Ricardo Gallen.

Actualmente, completa sus studies de guitar en la especialidad de flamenco en Conservatorio ‘Angel Barrios’ de Granada con la profesora Pilar Alonso.

Rachel Arena
Joya: curated installation ‘Double Self Split’ Melissa Marks in El Pais

We are very pleased to have our curated installation ‘Double Self Split’ by Melissa Marks featured in Spanish national newspaper El Pais…


New York artist Melissa Marks never expected that this summer she would be connecting her city with Vélez Blanco, a remote village in Almería. In the Patio de Honor — now empty — of the spectacular 16th century castle that crowns this mountain village, the painter has drawn on a 100 sq. meter canvas evoking the original patio decoration: arches and columns from this patio with Italian Renaissance ornaments that were sold by the owner of the castle in 1904 to a French art dealer and in 1945 ended up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

As a child, Marks and her family would go see the patio located in the celebrated museum and this week she inaugurates her large scale work exactly where those two thousand Macael marble blocks she enjoyed in her childhood resided more than a century ago. “When you move away, you live in different places but you’re forever connected to their original context (…) when we miss something, we always create something”, she comments in regards to the inspiration of the double life of this patio on both sides of the Atlantic. This installation, named Double Self Split, is accompanied by 16 large drawings in color and black and white, exhibited until Friday in the town’s convent.

The coincidence of Marks’ visits to the Renaissance decorations of the patio in Manhattan and decades later to the naked original enclosure inspired her enormous drawing full “of nature and creatures from Renaissance imagination” that reinterprets the original motifs created by Italian artisans in the 16th century. “Without skin, does the empty patio represent its bones? Or was the patio stripped to its soul? Does the separation of its parts add artistic or historic value? Or, on the contrary, was the history changed?”, the North American artist asks herself.

The rarity – more and more frequently – to be able to enjoy international art in the semi-desert climate of northern Almería is due to the union of foreigners. In 2009 the British couple of Simon and Donna Beckmann founded an artist residency, Joya: arte+ecología, in which Marks participated. Three years ago the the three of them talked about placing “a contemporary reciprocal gesture in the empty patio”, in the words of the artist and the English promoter. After talking to the councilor of Culture of Vélez Blanco, the German Dietmar Roth, they called at the doors of the castle, in this case the Andalucian Council, owners of the castle for over a decade in exchange for three million (euros).

The secret to maintaining the artistic pulse in a small municipality? “You have to raise awareness, although it is a town that is interested in culture, with a Renaissance and baroque music festival, as an example, and with very active cultural associations. Culture is s right but it is also an investment. What’s the difference between Spain and other tourist destinations? Cultural richness. Here we live with authenticity, we’re not a stage for tourists, we have the awareness of a patrimony”, emphasizes Roth, who arrived in Vélez Blanco 23 years ago.

Simon Beckmann searched and searched across the peninsula for an inspiring enclave for his residency, where he’s already received more than 500 artists. And he found it in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez, from where he collaborates with Spanish and British universities. He says he’s met with a surprising sensitivity toward his projects by the various institutions. As artist and host, he admits that the most difficult challenge is to tell the world, via the Internet, of his work in a site so isolated from the usual artistic circuits. “I never thought that I would spend this much time attempting to communicate what we do”. This week, however, as he and Marks fight the wind to keep the canvas fixed to the castle’s patio, everything surrounding this exhibition of contemporary art from the United States has left an excellent taste in his mouth.


Rachel Arena
Joya: AiR / Vivian Chinasa + Rosie Cooper / UK

Vivian Chinasa…

“The fact of seeing is not a reference for believing; in nature there are many performances that surpass human knowledge. For example, I place myself in a landscape, interacting with the concept of scale, distance, and composition. I jump up and down, imitating a Kenyan man, who being engaged in his cultural dance seeks to reach beyond what is seen.  Though I am seen by the land and by a camera and thus the person operating the camera, the performance that I am engaged in is not the only performance happening”.

“Every jump creates a shift in the environment that I am in; each creature reacts to the sound of my feet pounding the dusty, dirt tracks. The crickets jump to find a space of refugee; the flies fly to come back to where they were. The ground itself id hard and dusty, riddled with sharp broken stones, my feet starts to resemble a war zone.

The complexity of the landscape heightens in this very small moment of interaction. Suddenly what seemed like a performance for the camera, an action initiated by me the human becomes a negotiation between my body and the land that it belongs to.

My practice is my politics and my engagement with the system I chose to live in.

I am not historical or futuristic; I am not an image of any imagination nor am I a history book formed out of misogyny. My process is to perform my truth, to find my identity and define that identity through movement.  When I move, I move with my history.

The land is my first point of call; it is a canvas of expression. I am here on a one week residency with Rosie cooper a multi-disciplinary artist; working on establishing a collaborative process that embeds identity, culture and performance in the land.

We have been creating a series of images and films’ looking at my body in relation to this landscape and my memories of growing up in Nigeria in a landscape so different from this yet through performance becomes a place of many similarities”.

Rosie Cooper…

As a filmmaker and photographer with a background of studying fine art, I thrive on the challenge of conveying ideas through a unique perspective of articulate editing, colours and imagery manipulation. I pursue a range of collaborative projects both within the arts, music and business and thrive on those engagements of a brief and inspire to produce their idea or a feeling into a visual reality, a tangible form of art.

Within my practice I find inspiration and motivation in landscape and nature in general, where ever I am. I must have access to solitude with nature, maybe it’s an obsession or maybe it’s necessary in order to process & create, what ever it is. I am still trying to figure it out and my filmmaking and photography is a reflection of that search.

Collaborating with Vivian, a performance artist within this space has been a new and a reflective experience. Allowing us to work very closely together everyday, has opened a space both in mind and body to a new type of focus and openness in our practices and have fully engaged and intertwined. This experience has empowered our confidence within each other for future collaborations to come”.

Rachel Arena
Joya: AiR / Julie Cosgrove / Canada

“My painting process typically involves the use of fluid acrylics and water, and being at Joya: AiR encouraged me to consider how my work is directly and physically connected to place. I currently live and work in Northern Ontario, Canada, on the shores of the planet’s largest body of water, a landscape that is surrounded by wilderness and where water is often taken for granted. I have allowed this precious resource to become integral, using it freely in my practice.

In contrast, Joya: AiR at Los Gázquez exists in one of the sunniest and driest landscapes in Europe where water conservation is at the heart of life. Trekking in the landscape during my time there, I collected objects and traced the data of my travelled routes. The objects and routes also reveal a history of the land; from the species of trees and plants that survive in the arid environment, to the debris new and old, and pathways used by its inhabitants.

I welcomed the change in scenery and pace, and appreciated the simplicity of daily activities that included listening to the sound of wind and insects. I watched as the light shifted dramatically throughout the day, casting increasingly dramatic shadows. I found myself making images of these observations and objects as a way to record this place at this moment in time – a time that is in transformation with the effects of climate change. These images are reserved, small, and were created with the least amount of water possible.

I feel fortunate to have experienced Joya: arte + ecología and Los Gázquez as an artist in residence, and am certain that the influence of the people and the place will resurface in my work”.

Julie Cosgrove

Rachel Arena
Joya: AiR / Pablo Gonzalez Trejo / Cuba

“Joya: AiR is a great place to be for an artist. In my opinion a high quality art retreat to contemplate and reflect on the approach to Art flow and Art production. I feel now and in retrospect that this place is an integral part of my career as it allowed me to isolate and imagine life and art. I highly recommend this experience to any artist.

Going to Joya: AiR for me was a revelation. I first tried to feel the place by just contemplating it and then the landscape removed the cerebral assumptions of “what you think you know” and it just made me respond or react honestly while making art. I feel I have developed authentic artwork in Joya: AiR thanks to the nature surrounding the place and the input and energy of the hosts. The place in itself and the relations developed during this art in nature residency are an important encouragement for creativity and for embarking on a new art research territory.

Joya: AiR is a great arts-led research residence and I will go again if I ever get the opportunity. The hosts Donna and Simon are smart, kind and great people to share life experiences with. The evening dinners are the best to discuss interesting subjects and taste delightful meals.

If you need to research the connection between art and nature and you need spiritual retreat to create personal and true art, then go to Joya: AiR”.

Rachel Arena
Joya: AiR / Louie Isaaman-Jones / UK

‘First and foremost I would like to say a huge thank you to Donna & Simon, I instantly felt at home at Cortijada Los Gázquez (home of Joya: AiR). They have created an environment that was a pleasure to live and work in, and being comfortable made it that much easier to be productive and focused on my work and thoughts.

My art is often initially inspired by natural forms and colours – the flora, fauna and landscape surrounding Los Gázquez provided the perfect starting point for me to initiate a new body of work. I chose to work loosely and quickly, making a variety of smaller studies that I will work into larger pieces when I get back into the studio at home.

Although the visual stimuli was a highlight, the conversations and interactions with other residents, staff, volunteers and the Beckmann’s were also invaluable. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the residency and am excited about the work I will be producing off the back of it over the coming months.

Louie Isaaman-Jones

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Joya: AiR / James Quinn / UK

‘My practice is often cited as largely structure-focused – its aim is to encourage a re-evaluation of viewer perceptual and spatial engagement with screens. The intrinsic relationship between the structure of the screen, and that which is shown upon it has proved to be particularly challenging throughout the development of my practice. The depiction of landscape within my work has often raised questions and remarks as to its validity within the context of a widely structure-focused practice.

Joya: arte + ecología, with its ethos centred on sustainability, became the perfect platform to address the ongoing issue of landscape depiction on screens within my own practice. Initial intentions of my residency included explorations of phenomenology and memory in relation to landscape when disseminated on screen based technology.

And yet, as my week long residency progressed, the urgency of the environmental issues at the core of Joyas philosophy introduced new avenues for work making, as well as resurfacing long-dormant concepts in my practice.

Fresh questions arose as to the role of the screen as a tool of dissemination for these sustainable values. That which is depicted on the screen is a mediated depiction of reality – often misconstrued and exploited, screen based imagery can become commodified by various broadcasting platforms. Furthermore, with viewers increasingly becoming distanced and desensitised from content presented on screens, how can the screen be used to depict the delicate reality of ‘abstract concepts such as climate change’?

Questions such as these reaffirmed my decision to spend the week at Joya – problematizing and challenging the core principles of my practice allowed for further investigation and experimentation within my work.  Introducing my research concerns alongside those of Joya: arte + ecología pushed my understanding of my own works aims, and its possible outcomes.

The aim upon my arrival was to submerge myself and my practice in an environment with an understanding and appreciation of landscape and our relationship to it. As a practitioner that embraces speculative and experimental work making, this surrender to the trails, hills, fluvial systems, flora and fauna proved a fertile environment for observational video making and subsequent editing.

Works depicting a gradual slip from identifiable landscape to a state of abstraction were just one outcome. This metaphor, though simple in concept, speaks to the ongoing environmental concerns at Joya: arte + ecología.

It is a shame that my visit was short, as the enormity of the surrounding landscape would no doubt have raised further thoughts and inspiration had I stayed longer. The hugely accommodating Simon and Donna supported my residency at every point, offering critique and space for reflection in equal measure.

The work that I have put together over the week will provide me with a trajectory and points for further consideration for months to come’.

James Quinn is a Phd student studying at Norwich University of the Arts and University of the Arts London.


Rachel Arena
Joya: arte + ecología / Margherita Rossi / Staff

Margherita Rossi has joined Joya: arte + ecología from London, to work as our Project Developer.

Margherita grew up in the art world between Venice and Munich, between Vicenza and the mountains of South Tyrol. After completing an undergraduate degree in the Economics of Art at the Univeristà Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, she moved to London.

Margherita worked at Sotheby’s in the Impressionist and Modern Art department as a Cataloguer and Researcher, and she has continued to explore private collections of international art-dealers, as well as artist studios and galleries.

Her increasing involvement with contemporary art allowed her to take an opportunity as a Gallery Assistant at Hauser & Wirth. Here, she gained a deeper understanding of the multiple organisational aspects involved in running a major contemporary art gallery.

Most recently, she gained a Post Graduate Diploma in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute.

Aside from her gallery work, Margherita aims to one day establish a sustainable arts foundation that combines her passion for art and supporting young international artists. Additionally, she is planning to create a collective of female artists and photographers from around the world, acting as a platform to encourage, exhibit and sell their works.


Rachel Arena
Joya: AiR / Fiona Struengmann / Germany

It is impossible to not be inspired by the surroundings / people / vegetation / mountains and the living world around Los Gázquez (home of Joya: AiR). I tried to breathe it all in and create a body of work that speaks with the encircling landscape. A conversation of our interrelation with the natural world recorded in photographs and interpreted drawings.

I was amazed by the dry fluvial systems (barrancos) which can be walked for miles. During storms rocks are washed from the walls and you can see and feel the energy of the flood water as it courses down the mountain to the sea. Its energy leaves unbelievable impressions on the earth, mixed with treasures like fossils and other hidden histories which are revealed once again. A magical residency throughout.


Fiona Struengmann

Rachel Arena
Joya: AiR / Rachel Magdeburg / England

The Call of Nature

My residency, hosted by Joya: arte + ecología in the Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez in Almeria, Spain, was not the anticipated escape and period of artistic concentration that I expected. It was full of distraction. The landscape intruded on everything I did, bearing through the windows at every turn and enticing me away from artwork and out of the house.

The residence is in a remote location, but it is not devoid of signs of life, however distant they might be. It is rural but not primal. Every aspect of the house and landscape has been cultivated by humans. It is cultured. The almond trees, Aleppo pines, firebreaks, derelict buildings, stray cats, rabbit droppings, unused wells are all results and residues of human action.

The connection between the renovated farmhouse building of Joya (the Cortijada Los Gázquez) and the landscape it is sited within is very direct. Everyday human activity (showering, preparing food/drink, boiling the kettle, going to the toilet, brushing teeth, washing clothes and utensils, painting etc) is loaded as the organisation strives to be a sustainable ‘off-grid’ self-reliant machine. Every basic and greedy need I had (to clean, to drink, to be warm, to eat, to dispose of waste) effected and relied upon the energy systems of the house and therefore the environment I was within. Every time I made a cup of coffee I was boiling with guilt as I used crucial energy and water. Every shower I took was a battle with my conscience. It was also a delightful feeling of wrongdoing.

I keep myself very well hydrated. Basically I drink a lot. I like running in the mornings which involves refreshment afterwards. I love a hot drink. All this liquid is exactly what is scarce in this eroded, arid and bleached land.

The landscape is parched, barren and very thirsty due to the effects of decades of human land use, climate change and land abandonment. Water systems designed to store and capture rainfall and irrigate crops no longer work. The land crumbles underneath your feet. I caused a mini landslide when stumbling down a hillside. The loose stones were dropping off the mountain face like icing sugar blown from a cake.

Distracted from painting, I went for daily walks after a few cups of tea. At some point during the walk the ‘call of nature’ would summon. Being in such a quiet place where you could walk for hours and not see a soul, I happily relieved myself openly on the chalky dry soil. This natural compost, or ‘Humanure’ as Jenkins calls it is very eco-friendly and I felt pleased to finally do my bit for the planet and save flushing the toilet. This action of carrying the precious liquid inside me from the house and releasing it into the landscape became a poignant ‘act’ as I was guest/pest to the host organisation. I was in affect transporting their water into the landscape. This ‘release’ was symbolic, but also a ‘waste.’

The only painting it felt fitting to do whilst in this fascinating location and yet equally perverse, was painting that was dependent upon using water; watercolour. I brush-placed globules of watercolour onto paper that slowly seeped into its ground, this gradual absorption mirroring the process of rainfall soaking the soil, turning from half-sphere 3D paint to fully immersed into the paper flesh when dried. I also brush-dropped watercolour onto paper, turning these circular splatters into shapes that resembled the Aleppo pines outside and architectural and landscape design tree drawing templates.


Rachel Magdeburg 2016

Rachel Arena
Joya: AiR / writer Jonaki Ray / India

When I applied or a writer’s residency at Joya: AiR I had been attracted by the word interdisciplinary in it’s description. Having studied science and currently working in the field of communication, it seemed like a good fit. I applied and sent my writing samples and was thrilled to be selected! There was a problem though.

I had fallen recently and my left hand was in a plaster cast almost till the elbow. Would I be able to undertake this journey – thousands a miles away from home, family and everything familiar? My doubts swarmed like bees in my head, and I nearly cancelled, but decided to come at the last moment.

My route took me through Delhi – Istanbul – Madrid – Sevilla – Granada – Vélez Rubio. Along the way I learned to deal with security and customs, drag my suitcase one-handed, figure out the trains and buses in Spain, and communicate in rudimentary Spanish. By the time I reached Cortijada Los Gázquez (the home of Joya: AiR) I was exhausted. Yet this white, rectangular building, renovated and combined from five different houses, felt like home.

I learned about the ecological and artistic projects, walked, and decompressed, finally! As I chatted with my hosts, ate delicious meals everyday, and observed the landscape around me, I realised the commonality of problems between Spain and India – water shortage, drought (floods in some areas), farmers crises, villagers flocking to cities and resultant urban crises.

I realised that a lot of conservation efforts – rainwater harvesting, water recycling, solar electricity usage, renewal of ancient water catchments could be adopted in India as well. My stay taught me about the intersection of art and ecology and the importance of conversations and collaborations between people from various disciplines. The hope and faith that my hosts and other resident artists put into various projects, inspired the same in me. I started painting, after years, and integrating my poetry with my paintings.

During my journey here, I had (inadvertently) witnessed the Semana Santa processions. Perhaps it is fitting that I am leaving with a feeling of renewed faith – in myself and in life.

Jonaki Ray

Writer in residence April 2016

Rachel Arena