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

“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.

Joya: AiR / Olga Suchanova / Slovakia

Olga Suchanova is Slovakian visual artist and researcher living in London. Olga’s background is in photography, art and science. Her practice is based on experimenting with different mediums such as traditional printmaking, alternative and analogue photography, digital art, photogrammetry and virtual reality.

Olga’s research base is to explore physics through photography. The aim to do  art residencies is to experiment with the photographic image, which is represented by human or inhuman and demonstrates how the invisible can become visible by the usage of the different elements.  Olga builds camera obscuras at the place, and leaving the pinhole cameras to be exposed for days, weeks and months, captures the night sky. Doing so, she is questioning what is the time and how our time is projected through our eyes and undercovers the meaning of the reality and illusion.

At Joya: AiR Olga collaborated with other artist Tere Chad and installed 12 pinhole cameras, made from the beer cans on Tere’s sculpture called “The Re-Englightment.”

Olga Suchanova

Olga Suchanova @ Joya: AiR

Olga Suchanova @ Joya: AiR

Olga Suchanova @ Joya: AiR

Olga Suchanova @ Joya: AiR

Olga Suchanova @ Joya: AiR

Olga Suchanova @ Joya: AiR

Joya: AiR / Rithika Pandey / India

“As a painter, I’ve been on a constant pursuit for newer languages of expression to embed into my work. I wanted to find a way to dig deeper inside of me and come out with something richer and more emotive.

At Joya: AiR, the solitude truly helped me develop my work, which was mixed with enlightening conversations at the dinner table. The vastness all around Los Gázquez (Joya: AiR) is awe inspiring and made contemplate over the smallness of our presence in front of something that is much bigger and profound than us.

I was interested in exploring the formless nature of thought and how it can metamorphosize itself into representative or nonrepresentative visual forms on paper. With a bunch of old photographs collected from a flea market, I was exploring the idea of a shared history where I wanted to incorporate a new symbolic language to depict an abstracted lyrical narrative between something that has been absolute (the photograph) and what is more conceptual than true (the drawing). Kind of like music.

Walking along the Barrancos, I took inspiration from the natural objects and the manners of their arrangement in space and their forms, as means of symbolic representations, which I later interpreted them in several ink drawings.

I feel extremely lucky to have found myself in a space like Joya: AiR and conceptualized so many ideas that I can work on for my future projects. Simon and Donna have really made this paradise happen with such mesmerising grace.

I love them immensely for being so kind and making me feel at home with magical stories from their adventures in India, the funny Bollywood music from Simon’s playlist and Donna’s absolutely gorgeous food”.

- Rithika Pandey

Joya: AiR / Sandra Gregson / Canada

“I came to Joya: AiR with the intention that the specificity of the place would influence my work and it did!

Prior to taking the bus to Vélez Rubio, I stayed in Granada for a few days and visited the Alhambra. Alhambra is a magnificent site and the architecture, tiles, and gardens became a catalyst for my work whilst at Joya: AiR.

The land at Joya: AiR is limestone and white clay; an earlier resident had left some clay gathered from the dry riverbed and I used it a wash and ground for many drawings into which I layered tile designs from Alhambra. Using observations of the land from walks, Alhambra tile designs and maps of the area, my work became an investigation of the relationship between thought and land. Pensamiento de la tierra.

The land around Joya: AiR seems embedded with thought and knowing, and it feels like it’s always been like this: the earth a dusty limestone and clumpy clay, silvery grey olive trees sparkling as if their leaves interlaced with tinsel, the land rising in tiers of almond trees, then yellow green pines, and higher, pines a deeper green as they become dense forest and then above that, rocky summits of the hills.

The buildings at Joya: AiR are part of this landscape and are restored farmhouse buildings. The roof slope of the buildings echoes the slope of the hills, the stone and cement structure feels of the land, and the rooms flow through levels and inside/ outside spaces. As well, the solar panels, the wind turbine, the recovery of water, all add to the experience of Joya: AiR being of the land.

I loved being in the studio in the early morning as the sun rose above the hill flooding the studio with light and warmth, shaping my day. Then later in the day, a walk with other residents, or a walk with Foufou, the resident goat. With Foufou the walks were slow as she stopped to graze, but lovely as I noticed the scents and textures of plants. The walks at Joya: AiR are varied: through dry river beds, up hills, down slopes, meandering along roads cut through valleys and around large stone outcrops.

The day at JOYA always ending with a delicious meal shared with the other residents. Maravilloso!”

Sandra Gregson

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Katrin Bohn / Germany
Katrin Bohn

Katrin Bohn


“Cortijada Los Gázquez (Joya: AiR) is so happily situated within this dramatic and scarce, hence rich landscape, it is impossible to escape its spell. The site has an incredible section with the house right in its middle.
It is a site surrounded by food. The endeavour of local farmers to sustain their lives from and with the coarse soil is (still) visible everywhere. Almonds, almonds, almonds, olives, oats, figs, herbs, herbs, herbs, pomegranates; my favourite being the way the land is terraced to allow for food growing and natural irrigation. There is so little water! Except when there is too much, which I witnessed during my one-week stay in a rare ‘gota fria’.

Donna and Simon have embedded their house, their art practice and their lives ever so carefully into this landscape making themselves part of it. Their attention to detail and beauty also signals the future: the rural and the urban are not enemies to fight but contrasts to be played on creatively.

Being an architect and academic on a writing retreat, the ecology of the house became my key inspiration: what would have happened if our everyday lives had developed just slightly different? My context for this is the city, the block of flats, individuals’ homes and their urban networks. But my context is also the way in which Los Gázquez has embraced the necessity to work with the sun, the wind, the water, the food and the waste. I have written three articles about a slightly different urban present – a common future? - one about a washing machine, one about a letter box and one about a potato pantry. I’ll take them back to Germany tomorrow.

Simon and Donna, good luck with reinstating the old ‘embalsa’; what a great project! I would love to come back and see that basin full of water and lush fruit-tree-lined food-growing terraces being naturally irrigated again”.

Katrin Bohn

Katrin Bohn is an architect, urban practitioner and academic. Her main research interests lie in sustainable architectural and urban design and centre around the concept of CPUL City (Continuous Productive Urban Landscape) which she developed within Bohn&Viljoen Architects since around the year 2000.

Much of Bohn's design research deals with the relationships between urban space and food-productive urban landscape and bridges the gaps between environmental design thinking, urban space production and sustainable lifestyles. Since the UK's first urban agriculture conference Urban Nature (2001), co-curated by Bohn, she has contributed widely to conferences, publications, exhibitions and design and policy debates, both nationally and abroad. As an internationally recognised urban agriculture expert, she has also been advising on national and international research, policy documents and pioneer projects. Her work has been quoted by the UN and UNESCO and has influenced urban planning in the UK, as well as worldwide.

Bohn studied architecture at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany (Diploma in Architecture), the University of East London (MSc in Architecture) and the École d'Architecture de Nantes, France (DAAD Scholarship). Since 1998, she runs a London-based architectural practice and environmental research consultancy with André Viljoen (Bohn&Viljoen Architects). Before this, she trained in architectural practices in Germany, Brazil, France and Britain, including work for Jourda & Perraudin (Lyon) and Stefan Schrodt Architekten (Berlin).

Joya: AiR / Jimena Centurión/ Argentina

“Joya:AiR es un tesoro dentro de Vélez Blanco. Un lugar donde se escucha el silencio y se descansa profundamente en sintonía con la respiración de la tierra. El tiempo se hace presente. El ahora es lo único que existe y a partir de ahí nace el espíritu creativo que impulsa a lo inesperado.

Entendí que cuando uno suelta todo tipo de apego, corporal y metal, no espera absolutamente nada, permitiendo que la vida suceda y aparezca en nosotros.

A veces cuesta ver y hasta creer lo mas simple que somos.

Estar en Joya me permitió una vez más, conectarme con mi ser y con mi presente, y reconocer que soy amor con el todo.

Cada ser, partícula y átomo que nos rodea siente nuestra presencia y lo que trasmitimos.

Si en cada instante pudiéramos recordar que somos un reflejo de nuestro entorno y éste un reflejo nuestro, y comprender que en realidad somos y queremos lo mismo, y que somos iguales, somos uno: somos amor.

Cuando logramos percibir ese amor en nosotros y en el otro, es cuando nos reconocemos (nos volvemos a conocer) y se genera un vínculo infinito, profundo y atemporal.


Inspirada en Van Gogh mi frase de cada día es:

‘no hay nada más verdaderamente artístico que amar, yo te amo’

‘there is nothing more truly artistic than to love, i love you’


Gracias Joya: AiR, Simon y Donna, por abrirme las puertas de su hogar y darme la oportunidad de conocerme más”. 

Jimena Centurión

Mi nombre es Jimena Centurión, tengo 30 años, soy argentina nacida en Buenos Aires. Vivi en Australia durante un año, y a partir de entonces viajé por Indonesia y España, hasta llegar a Joya: AiR, mi primera residencia de arte. 

Dibujo y pinto desde hace mucho tiempo y estudié Bellas Artes en Buenos Aires. Estudié también grabado y serigrafía. 

Hace tres años una fuerza se despertó en mí, y me llevó a estar presente en el hoy. 

A través de la respiración, el caminar, la danza, la escritura y el dibujo, entreno y desarrollo el estar presente. 

Utilizo bastante la acuarela y el acrílico, pintando lo que percibo delante de mí. En general mis trabajos son paisajes ya que es donde me encuentro presente, sin tiempo alguno, me encuentro a mí, respirando en paz. Observando una y otra vez la forma, la luz. Entendiendo y aprendiendo. 

Llevar mis sentidos cada vez más a distintos niveles y grados de conciencia, y entrenar el ojo, la mano y el corazón es mi entrenamiento de cada día. 

Me interesa y me apasiona seguir con esta línea de investigación a cada lugar que voy, rodeada de un nuevo entorno que me permita extender mi apertura de conciencia y percepción.

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Charlotte Price / England

“I came to Joya": AiR to experience an environment completely new to me and indeed arriving here was truly breathtaking. Cortijada Los Gázquez is surrounded by pine forested mountains and fields of almond trees. Wherever you walk your senses are immersed in a silence that is almost tangible and a heavy scent of aromatics growing wild at your feet.

I had not encountered a place like this and my initial ideas for the artwork I thought I would create wavered in a desire to explore the land and gather up pieces of and from the ground. I collected plants that were skeletal at the end of their life cycle, dried by the sun and wind. I found rocks with indentations of a prehistoric life. The limestone dusted everything and placed it in a semilunar world.

Collection of objects of natural history was already part of my art practice and I found it impossible not to create a still life of my new findings. The studio table became filled with traces of my experience in this landscape.

My work is normally sited in a rural landscape traversed with pathways through which I investigate a social history of human presence. Pathways of previously utilitarian purpose are represented in imagery of frail plant material collected from their edges. I use print techniques that allude to the sombre tones of a Victorian age of Natural History collection and its museology.

Walking in the landscape and a scrutiny of its geography and detail has been the substance of my practice.  Some inspirational reading has been:

Michael Landy            Nourishment A portfolio of 12 etchings

Richard Mabey           Weeds

Robert McFarlane         The Old Ways, The Wild Places

Edward Chell             The Garden of England, Bloom

Richard Long            Selected statements & interviews

Tom Trevor             Three Ecologies Lois Weinberger

Anna Pavord            Landskipping

Rebecca Solnit          Wanderlust

Christopher Tilley         A Phenomenology of Landscape

Nan Shepherd          The Living Mountain

Paul Farley & Michael Symmons Roberts       Edgelands

Numerous Field and Pocket Guides to Wild Flowers”

Charlotte Price

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Annabel Potterton / Ireland

“I am interested in the surroundings of wherever I am and how to achieve a sense of place and immediacy in my practice.  I worked on a bank of images, images collected whilst walking around Los Gázquez, to give a sense of the area, each painting being a moment in time during the residency.  Painting the images back in the studio allowed me to study the nuances of colour, the structures of the landscape and the surrounding ecology; at the same time making decisions on content, composition and colour.  When I am working I see every painting as an abstraction of colour and shape. 

It was a wonderful experience coming to Los Gázquez which allowed space to think and paint, to talk with and listen to the other artists, to enjoy the chat around the table and Donna’s amazing food, and to walk in the beautiful surroundings exploring the ecology of the area.  It is a very special place.  I arrived on my first day with trepidation as it was my first residency; I left feeling taller and braver.  Thank you to Donna and Simon for your amazing hospitality and kindness.”


Annabel Potterton


Simon Beckmann