Archive for April, 2010

Paint Safari / Auto Response…!

paint safari Tom

Cortijada Los Gázquez is coming to the end of a fantastic week of PAINT SAFARI. We started off with charcoal drawings and quickly moved on to oil paints. A wet winter has brought us an abnormally ‘green’ spring with an abundance of wild flowers and more arriving each day.

I need to take this opportunity to apologise to all those who received ten’s of e-mails from me announcing that I was unable to respond to their e-mails as I was away on Paint Safari. The intention was to set up an automated response to incoming mail. What I did was send the message as a reply to all the e-mails in my in-box. I wish I could blame a virus but alas no, it was human error. Doh!



Joya and Volcano Eyjafjallajökull

eyjafjallajokull NASA

NASA‘s Earth Observatory clearly illustrates the issues Los Gázquez had with flights last week. Donna was trapped in England, her flight cancelled, and had to return to Spain via Winchester, Portsmouth and a ferry to Santander, train to Madrid and train to Murcia. It took four days!

Joya resident artist Peter Morrens from Belgium, following an exhibition in Germany, had his flight cancelled too, so he used the fantastic TAXI STOP. It’s a Dutch/Belgian car sharing scheme. All you do is post you desired destination to meet up with someone with a vehicle travelling the same way. You share the cost of fuel and the driving and obviously reduce the amount of vehicles on the road. Peter Morrens got as far as Barcelona from where he took the train to Lorca (our nearest town).

peter morrens train ride

Meanwhile guests at Los Gázquez, my second cousin George Beckmann and his wife Fenna, booked the train hotel from Paris to Madrid over ten months ago. They felt they should take the less frantic and environmentally more friendly train…

george-fenna beckmann

only to discover that there was a French rail stike and that their train had been cancelled. There only choice was to take the 14 hour overnight coach to Barcelona. They then missed their connecting train and had to buy a new ticket arriving in Granada at midnight.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost


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Los Gázquez and the Alternative Technology Association of Australia


Here at Los Gázquez we are delighted to have been invited to write an article about our ecology systems for ReNew magazine, the publication of the Australian Alternative Technology Association. It came via association member, and friend of Los Gázquez, Lee along with his partner Merryl. (G’day to you fair folk in Brisbane).

If anyone should be interested in reading the article and the magazine in general (which is very good) you can contact them at If  you would like a copy of the transcript you can contact me via a comment at the end of this post.



PAINT SAFARI / April - May

Taibena y Blanco

Cortijada Los Gázquez is operating it’s PAINT SAFARI on the following dates in April through to May. Places are available for the…

24th April to 1st May. Joya resident artist, Belgian, Peter Morrens.

8th April - 15th May. Joya resident artist Lizzie Finn and special guest Sue Amos (see previous post).

Any other dates can be accommodated on request.

For further information please contact Simon at [email protected]



Art Forms in Nature / 8th - 15th May / Special Guest


This is Cortijada Los Gázquez’s ‘applied arts’ programme where one can explore the nature of form and pattern occurring in the natural world. We offer the opportunity to consider and develop a practice of manipulating these forms in preparation for ‘applied or ‘decorative’ arts, be it for wallpaper, ceramics, furniture, graphic design, textiles, etc. The choice is yours.

Plant life, geology, climate, light, insects and more are all the traditional haunt of artists in their search for design. Consider the capital of a Corinthian column whose form is dictated by the folding leaves of the acanthus. The filleted fish bones pressed by Picasso into wet clay for a plate. The symmetry and organic form in the prints of Ernst Haeckel and his observations in nature.

Here at Cortijada Los Gázquez we have an abundance of pristine nature to explore. From atop the forested or craggy slopes of the sierras down to the barrancos and ramblas in the valleys below, the gentle but fascinating study of life and physical form is a place you can draw inspiration and exercise your creative mind.

sue amosIn this instance (apart from our resident Joya artist) we are pleased to announce the participation of Sue Amos the education co-ordinator for the South London Botanical Institute. Sue is also an experienced Landscape Designer, Fine Artist and environmental educator.   She has enjoyed seeing plants grow in their natural environment on travels in Europe, Central America, the antipodes and Asia that have been a huge inspiration for both her art and design work.

‘From the delicate structures of single flowers to the huge sweeps of grassland across hills,  alpine specimens clinging to rocks and the exotic jungle plants of the Himalaya, the delightful randomness of nature casts plants across a landscape with an uncontrived artlessness that’s constantly new, inspiring experimentation and play.

I am looking forward to the apparent simplicity of the landscape at Los Gázquez, the pared down nature of the unbuilt environment and the opportunity to explore local flora in real depth, find new plants, new combinations, new colours, patterns and textures to develop my random language of plants’.

As with our other  resident artist’s Sue will also be talking and showing slides to us about her plant hunting expeditions in New Zealand and Tasmania as well as showing us some of her fantastic pictures of Las Pozas, Edward James’ amazing garden in Mexico.

There are still remaining places for this course so if you would like to attend please contact us through our web site.


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Joya / Artists Talk / Ayers + Gelin

Ayers + Gelin

We had a great evening at Los Gázquez last night as our small group congregated to listen to Joya resident artists Alain Ayers and Cecilia Gelin talk about their individual work and co-production.

Creative guests at Los Gázquez can expect to have interesting and congenial talks such as this during their stay here. It’s a great opportunity to talk to professional artists about their inspirations and experiences and gain great insight to the workings of a creative mind.



Joya / Una Invitación / Ayers + Gelin

Hoya de las Vacas

Artists Talk;

Alain Ayers and Cecilia Gelin (Ayers + Gelin) current resident artists at Cortijada Los Gázquez will be talking about their individual work as well as  their co-production before and during their time as part of the Joya residency.


Cortijada Los Gázquez, La Hoya de Carrascal, Vélez Blanco, Almería, España.


Friday 9th April, 20.00 hrs.



Joya / University of the Arts MA / Sophie Eade

Here at Los Gázquez we thought it might be nice to blog some of the work from the recent residency from the University of the Arts, MA, London.

It’s best to consider the experience for these artists as experimental and Los Gázquez is a laboratory to explore new ideas. Often as not the work is at the distant end of what you might call  ‘minimal intervention’. These exploratory forays into the natural environment here are testing grounds used as part of a continual cycle of work which manifest themselves in a variety of media from two and three dimensional to video and sound etc.

sophie eade

‘The power and beauty of the landscape at Los Gázquez is totally overwhelming. Any human intervention within it seems tiny and insignificant. Los Gázquez made me think about the fragility of people either within or as part of nature. Tinkering with or changing anything that is already there would have felt like vandalism. By placing human hair within the stream and flowing with the water over the waterfall I added a tiny physical trace of human presence which will inevitably be judged by nature’.

Sophie Eade

Personally, I see a slightly banal but sinister evocation of Ophelia, fallen from a broken bower ‘incapable of her own distress’ and as Sophie Eade says ‘judged by nature’. An innocent victim to trickery and circumstance. Was it a suicide or not? We will never know. Maybe, as I grew up surrounded by Victoriana and the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood , I can only equate hair with femininity and loss. A piece of hair held in a locket, the reside of the heart in a symbol of the emotive senses. Raymond Carver’s short story ‘So Much Water So Close to Home‘ also comes to mind. It’s a tale of indifference to the suffering of others (a drowning) and the emotional backlash that can come as a consequence of this lack of concern. So my response is to feel some sort of a tangible sense of the mutability and indifference of life and it’s diversity.

This minor installation is still there, over a week on. Now it’s tangled with the spawn of Natterjack toads as new life breeds where old growth demises.



Joya Residency / Lee Maelzer

rocksA two-week residency at Los Gázquez saw Lee Maelzer examining in photographs some of the recurrent themes in her paintings.

‘Trees, stones and buildings… the details of the landscape are blurred, occluded or brought into sharp focus to create an instant approximation of the anticipated memory of a place.
The photographs will then be further altered and mutated and form the basis of new paintings.
There is a sense in me that I am never actually present but always on my way to somewhere or on my way back from it’.

Lee Maelzer new painting

And here is one of Lee Maelzer’s new paintings. It’s unfinished and being made as a consequence of her experience here at the JOYA residency. It’s a work in progress and it clearly illustrates the artist’s working methods. Places are experienced, absorbed and catalogued in a multiple of ways returning to the studio to be manifested (in this instance) into oil painting.



Joya Residency Welcomes / Ayres+Gelin

near and far

Near  + Far solar panel and wind turbine                      Near + Far toad sporn in the barranco

‘Joya is as beautiful as it is diverse and we are learning more about this each day. The technology that is required to live ‘off the grid’ is a visible necessity. Sun and wind generator systems and satellite communication have a functional as well as an aesthetic quality that strongly indicates the connections to global technological networks. These join in a poesis with the more traditional qualities of land shaping and plantings. Can we construct a visual narrative of the way the house sits in its location, simultaneously with a sense of our own experiential mapping? We have been on a series of walks outwards from the house developing our recording methods including ‘360˚’s’; ‘near and far’ and ‘description’. These are our current terms for movements using a tripod and handheld camera to record the connections between the house, the landscape and ourselves sometimes appearing as a context of being here.
From our dialogues and reviews of our work each day we are generating a number of ideas for the future and also some works that can be specifically resolved during the time here. An example of this would be the four ‘Sleeping and Dreaming’ videoworks that we are making from horizon points (NNW - SSW - SSE - NNE) with the house in view. (Just before setting out on our NNW walk, five black helicopters flew over, serendipitously!)
There will be two other key works on the shifting alignment of the wind turbine and the solar panel movement tracking the sun. From the studio we are making some small object works and a series of drawings to be remade into a notebook. So far, on day five, a productive time and very well cared for’.

Alain Ayres+Cecilia Gelin 05.04.10


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