Archive for November, 2009

‘THE GREAT ALMOND BLOSSOM SPECTACULAR’. Creative Courses / Spring 2010 @ Cortijada Los Gázquez




Ecology Systems Los Gázquez / Grey Water

lloyd & romaine diggingThis autumn (even though it hadn’t really arrived until this weekend) has seen us take the opportunity to re-install the grey water system. All the grey water from Los Gázquez leaves the house by it’s own dedicated waste water system. When I say grey water, I mean water from the showers, basins, kitchen sinks, dishwasher and washing machine. What is more we only use ecologically safe detergents as this water is used to irrigate a terrace of fruit trees.

lloya & romaine collecting strawTo help us with this task we had two wonderful young French men from Lyon. Lloyd and Romaine were on their gap year and they stayed with us for a few weeks on their return from a month in Morocco. (I have to say that if their parents are reading this we must say that they are a credit to them, they are welcome back here any time). The first thing to do was to dig an horizontal swale or ditch with an access point at one end which you can see in the foreground (below). In the excavation we laid field drain. Next we collect the barley straw from last summer and cut the straw from last springs wild flowers.

lloyd & romaine laying strawFirstly the wild flower straw goes over the field drain in the ditch. It has more structural integrity so the idea is that it supports the material we put over the top. We have adapted the idea from Permaculture techniques. The swale will hold the water stopping it from running off and giving it time to soak into the earth. When the earth is dry, being clay, it is as hard as concrete making whatever rainfall we have simply run away.

ss watching hayLastly, with an audience of eight year olds on my car roof, we apply the barley straw. This is laid like a thick blanket over the whole terrace. The idea is that it will act like a sponge keeping the newly introduced grey water high in the earth, watering the tree roots from beneath. It is also a deep mulch keeping the clay earth soft and allowing worms and such to break down this organic matter, conditioning the soil.

We have three terraces for this system so we can alternate where the grey water goes, freshly irrigating one terrace while the others rest. What is more it’s entirely organic and can be replenished or removed with ease. Last spring we planted four trees on the first terrace which was fed by the grey water in a canal. This was marginally successful but out of the four trees we planted, pear, persimmon, fig and apricot, the apricot died as I suspect it had too much water. The new system will hopefully combat that problem, Let’s see.

And thanks to Lloyd and Romaine.


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Bella Vista Los Gázquez

bella vista

This is the view WNW to Cortijada Los Gázquez (on the left) from the Sierra Larga. You can see Las Almohallas, El Gabar, Sierra del Oso and the mighty Sagra in Granada province.



Joya resident artist Alice Forward

5.PISTA DE ORO, VeniceIt is fast approaching the end of the Joya residency for artist Alice Forward. Accordingly I thought it would be interesting to post up a previous piece of her work from an entirely different environment to Los Gázquez before I show you some images of the work she has made here during her residency.

Pista de Oro, Bogota, Colombia, 2006

Alice Forward likes to make transient work that is specific to the place it is made. This gold leafed section of pavement was made for the 2006 Venicia Biennale de Bogota, and refers to the local history of El Dorado, and the gold that was stolen by the conquistadors from the original inhabitants of the Bogota basin.

Clearly, working on the surface of the earth attracts her creative imagination. Whilst there has been greater physical variety in her work in the years between this piece in Columbia and her residency here at Joya, you can see a return to familiar ideas and ways of seeing. Each new day she has been working for hours, high in the sierras surrounding the cortijada, her quiet introspection slowly revealing a world at once in microcosm and in a moment far more expansive. The epitome of the universe.

forward pencil rubbing
Mapa 1:1, Sierra Grande, 2009

Forward has found the rocks around Los Gázquez ‘really amazing’ and she has started to make a whole series of pencil rubbings from them. She tells us about a short story by  Luis Borges about a king who ordered his royal mapmakers to draw up the biggest, most detailed map ever known. The map they made of his kingdom in minute detail was exactly the same size as the country itself.

alice pencil rubbing detail

It has been a gift to have Alice Forward resident here at Los Gázquez and once again it has been a compelling insight into the ways artists sometimes appear to conjure meaning from the apparently meaningless.


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Transition Culture / Rob Hopkins at TED



Joya. artist residence / no.15 / Melissa Marks 1/15.07.2010



In a radical moment made of ambition and luck, Volitia, a detachable drip/mutable blob/Pollock-leftover caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror and became self-aware.  She began with a declaration of freedom, an attempt to live the idea of a self in a constant state of remaking.  Volitia (as in volition) became a hybrid hero, part Superman, part Eve - creation come to life.  The master narrative, the growing sum of Volitia’s adventures is an abstract serial myth, a visual story able to sustain itself precisely because CHANGE demands that it continues…

“Adventures of Volitia” is a project I began in 1993. The work has taken the form of paintings, drawings and large-scale wall-painting installations.  The painted blob or line has been given superhero status  and attributes, and yet, remains a basic anchor and building block with the power to elaborate fantasy.  The abstract drip or blob is an icon, and at the same time, is inextricably tied to the interior life of creation, a connection to something essentially human.  It is both Volitia’s point of origin and her fundamental core.

The drawn mark as Volitia has multiple powers.  She stands as both metaphor and object - capable of superspeed, super-leaping, super- self-reflection, and multiple iterations in a single drawing.  As metaphor, she represents an open soul, ready to turn herself inside-out in order to see the world, the future. As object, she represents our body, concrete and attached, utterly dependent on her ability to be seen.   She is blossom and ice, temporary, alive and melting.

Volitia finds herself in the shifting forms of the Landscape, molds herself from malleable matter.  Nature functions as background, context and co-conspirator.  Nature provokes momentum, demands reaction, and like Volitia, has the ability to remake itself in the midst of a familiar continuum.  The Joya residency provides an opportunity for a NEW landscape, new shapes to be discovered, new color and light, new territory for adventure.


Melissa Marks received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University in 1987 and her Masters of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Art in 1992.

Solo exhibitions include Bloomberg SPACE, London, England, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York and The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut.  Other exhibitions include Art In General, NY, _The Drawing Center, NY, The P.S.1 Center for Contemporary Art, NY, University Galleries, Florida Atlantic University, FL, Douglass College Gallery at Rutgers University, NJ, Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, Künst Werke Berlin, Germany, University _Gallery, University of Florida, FL, Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.

You can see more of Melissa Marks work here.



Joya. artist residence / no.14 / Tamsin Pender 1/8.03.2010


I would respond to the fantastic opportunity of a Joya residency by exploring how the unique location informs an activity I have pursued for some time, and how it might be changed and developed by it.

For the past ten years I have been making low-fi forays into the great outdoors. These hit and run interventions at found sites have a short shelf life and a low environmental impact. Visually dramatic, they aim to change a view, and the perception of the viewer. For a brief time they become a source of contemplation, a screen to look at and through. Once they have disappeared, only photographs remain to record them. I would use the indoor and outdoor spaces at Los Gazquez, to make work in an exciting yet unfamiliar environment (the mountains!) and to find new ways to document the work that celebrates the making of it.

I have often been asked by curious onlookers, while making these interventions, what was the purpose of the structure – was it for catching insects or deterring gulls? While they may not be as practical as swales at catching precious rainwater, I have been fantasising that these forms may have a playful relationship with the existing and ongoing constructions at Los Gazquez.

tam penderTamsin Pender (born Cornwall) lives and works in London. Tamsin completed post-graduate studies at the Royal Academy Schools in 1990 and has since exhibited widely, including at the Tate Gallery St Ives, Walsall New Art Gallery and Beaconsfield, London. Recent projects include participatory art and design pieces, exhibited at the V&A Museum of Childhood, The Saison Poetry Library and the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre.



Gázquez in the Mist

misty losgazquez

Thanks to Alice Forward, our Joya resident artist, for this fine picture of Los Gázquez in the morning mist. This is the season for inversions, so expect some spectacular landscapes in the near future.



Sunrise Early in the Morning @ Cortijada Los Gázquez /Sat 21st November

dawn 1 LG

dawn LG 2



Joya Artist Clare Price @ Cluster / Carnaby Street, London


Joya resident artist Clare Price is in a group show in Carnaby Street, London. If you are passing through….



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