Archive for February, 2010

Moon Bows; addendum (moon seen riding rainbow)

moon rides rainbow

5pm the sun makes it’s way to setting in the west, the moon rises in the east. High wind blows the rain from beneath the weather front passing to the north of Los Gázquez creating this beautiful rainbow.

How many paintings can you think of with a rainbow?



Moon Bows

moon halo

Last night we had  a halo around a three quarter waxing gibbous moon and a sight more beautiful than my photo can possibly describe. It appeared to be an enormous hole in a thin layer of alto cirrus cloud, but could the moon generate enough radiation to evaporate this high altitude moisture? We needed the advice of an expert. So I e-mailed Tristan Gooley (see previous post) this morning and asked for advice…

Hi Simon,
Hard to be certain from one photo, but it looks like a similar phenomenon to a ‘moonbow’. Rainbows, fogbows and moonbows are all arcs, often coloured, caused by reflection and refraction of the light from the sun or moon hitting water particles in the atmosphere.
In this case the moisture may be a thin layer of cirrus cloud. The Arctic Innuit and Pacific islanders have been known to use this effect to forecast bad weather, in western terminology, they can herald an approaching front.

I may be completely wrong though!

best, T

Ah, an approaching front. Let’s check the weather forecast…

approaching front

there it is.  We are where I have put a red dot. The front is moving to the north of us on a warm south westerly wind. This is often why the east coast of Spain is dry, weather systems seem to move to the north of us held at bay by some Mediterranean high pressure.



Natural Navigation

Friend of Cortijada Los Gázquez, Tristan Gooley (The Natural Navigator) has a new book. He…

blends natural science, myth, folklore and the history of travel to introduce you to the rare and ancient art of finding your way using nature’s own sign-posts, from the feel of a rock to a glance at the moon.

natural navigator book cover

With Tristan’s help, you’ll learn why some trees grow the way they do and how they can help you find your way in the countryside.  You’ll discover how it’s possible to find north simply by looking at a puddle and how natural signs can be used to navigate on the open ocean and in the heart of the city. Wonderfully detailed and full of fascinating stories, this is a glorious exploration of a rediscovered art.

Tristan is the only person to have flown and sailed single handedly across the Atlantic. He is also Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. But best of all he is coming to Los Gázquez, (at a point we can find in the diary) I shall let you know when.

Tristan’s insight into the landscape will be a fascinating resource for artists. So if you are interested in coming to Los Gázquez at around the same time please let me know in advance.

I wonder if he will need directions?

You can buy Tristan’s book at this shop here.




… or landscapes of Vélez Blanco and the surrounding countryside.

Seasons like these, when the almond blossom bursts into flower, force us to acknowledge that the impact of humanity on the earth’s ecology has been a mixed blessing. However, our long relationship between nature and culture has not been an out and out calamity.


This is a landscape painters paradise, especially at this time of the year. Interestingly the English word ‘landscape’ comes from the Germanic word Landschaft and it signified a unit of human occupation or jurisdiction. So where it might appear that human intervention has manipulated the landscape to correspond to some inner ‘spiritual’ concept, it does not. Landscapes are manipulated for food and firewood. American photographer Ansel Adams described the reality of the landscape perfectly, ‘ there is some deep personal distillation of spirit and concept which moulds these earthly facts into some transcendental emotional and spiritual experience‘.

castillo velez blanco 10

Landscape painting came to be used as the backdrop for familiar motifs of classical myth and sacred scripture. And it would be foolish not to acknowledge that the architects of both of Vélez Blanco’s castles were well aware that, despite the presence of water, this hill is a very good place to build your ‘unit of human occupation’, your dominance over land, man and beast.

I say two castles because the first castle was Moorish (the square structure in the foreground), built from stone and adobe it was destroyed by an earthquake in the 10th century. The houses nestled at it’s feet are the old Moorish homes, secure fiefdoms from the ‘reconquistas’ from the north. The second castle is Renaissance and built by the ‘Marquesas de Los Fajardo‘ in the early 16th century.

sagra and clouds

Landscape, and it’s consequent representation, is a depository in which to induce some form of  meaningful  mis en scène. Historically it has had more to do with the human condition than the natural. This landscape is the view from Los Gázquez to La Sagra, a sky strewn with wrecked clouds as the sun sets towards Granada. It is our human nature to draw meaning from the void between reality and the view.



Cortijada Los Gázquez @ A World Different

a world differentApril

Nice things have been written about us by this couple of cool Californians at ‘A World Different‘. But don’t read my words read theirs. Eco-tourism is as much about building / re-building sustainable communities as it is about having sustainable energy systems etc. Globalisation would be a far more ethical and cohesive concept if it was about the sharing of ethical and ecological ideas and knowledge at grass root levels rather than corporate. These folk champion this dream and should be applauded for their efforts.

Awesome, as they say in California.


Comments (1)

Joya. Artists Residence / No. 22 / Ans Nys / 20.05-5.06.2010

une autre fille- 3‘In my drawings standing women stare you in the face. The gaze and the annihilation of it runs as an fascination through my work. Colour is scarcely used but in a very considered way, with reminiscences of the (early) renaissance portrait. The painted illusion of the human skin and interplay with the fragility of the paper, the transparency are of a great concern.

My residency at Los Gázquez will be spring, almost summer. What intrigues me, is the roughness and the colouring of the nature during this time of the year. How a human body relates to it. How it breaths in this air and colours. I want to explore the light and the specific colouration of the place and let my drawings be inspired by it. I intend to enlarge the usual scale of my drawings - enabled by the studio there – and to work horizontally instead of vertically, on the lying figure, drawn from head to too. The body as a landscape, reminiscent of the Los Gázquez landscape.

Drawing – especially during a longer period of time in an isolated environment – can be a haunting obsession the mind can experience: it can become a self-devouring activity, precipitating, and aggravating itself. Yoga and walking through the nature of Los Gázquez are means to reinforce the physical energy the body puts into the drawing process’.

Ans NysAns Nys is a Belgian artist whose primary medium is drawing. She received an Ma in Fine Arts at Royal Academy of Fine Arts Ghent and in Philosophy at the University Ghent. Since 1999, she is Reader in Drawing at Sint-Lucas Visual Arts Ghent, where she started up the drawing research group. She organized several symposia on drawing and is editor of the artist magazine on drawing Th Ink. Her research interests  are drawing, the phenomenology of drawing, the aesthetic experience and the relation between art and life. In 2006 she was selected for the exhibition Gorge(L), Oppression and relief in art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp (KMSK) together with ao. Frieda Kahlo, Ana Mendieta, Marlene Dumas, Berlinde De Bruycker. She will be in an upcoming group show at Voorkamer BE, including the launch of an artist book.



Daam Nillan - installation

totem installation

Sunday morning (this morning) saw the installation of Escribir; también resident writer Daam Nillan’s (aka Aaris King, Orange County, California) piece, ‘totem’ (working title only).

The snow storm has passed to leave us with a rapid melt and a slightly sunny day. So with the help of volunteers Arne and Jannik from Germany the pine pole was manhandled up the hillside to it’s residing position above the barranco.

daam nillan

Our artist came so far to write, and write he did, but there is something about this environment that enduces people to ‘make’. Daam Nillan used pyrography to scorch or brand the wood with his words.



Joya. Artists Residence / no.21 / Ellie Rees / 19-30.09.2010

Reader, I Married Him 2008

Reader, I Married Him 2008

Me in Japan‘Through my work I aim to explore the contradictory attractions of emancipated female roles and the romantic dreams proposed by popular and traditional culture. The use of humour and irony as a subtext is an essential part of most of the work as I investigate what it means to be female and an artist.

My work manifests as performance video, most often made in response to my immediate surroundings. I am interested in taking narratives - specific to a place and its culture (particularly romantic stories involving heroines), and creating performances inspired by themes from these narratives. The JOYA artists’ residency immediately strikes me as a programme where I could continue exploring the personal aspects of performance to highlight the flaws in cultural clichés about women.

Beyond Narcissus 2008

Beyond Narcissus 2008

Cortijada Los Gázquez; an environment with an incredible dramatic aesthetic, will be an inspirational place to work, particularly considering the theatrical nature of the videos I make. The striking backdrop of the mountains and valley presents itself as an already-established mise-en-scene, enabling my continuing investigation into the everyday under the shadow of the romantic ideal.

Some of my films play with ideas about what constitutes performance and the difference between live and recorded spectacle. With a keen regard for formal considerations such as available lighting, landscape and composition, I will rehearse meticulously on site during the residency, and record in situe, working instinctively in response to the ‘stage’ I am presented with in the Sierra María-Los Vélez’.

Ellie Rees

You see and read more about Ellie here and here.



The Saturday Times / Los Gázquez; no.5 in the European TOP 10 HOTSPOTS

saturday times



Bee Lines - Joya Resident Artist Alice Forward - Exhibition

Joya resident artist Alice Forward (November 2009) is exhibiting at SVA in Stroud, Gloucestershire.





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