Archive for August, 2010

Creative Course / Caminos Altos

sierra maria

Ok, I stitched two photos together rather crudely but  think you get the idea, no? CAMINOS ALTOS



Soldiers vs. Clones

Ok, so it’s proud Dad time again. Sollie (how he likes it spelt) with his good friends Marlow and Alfie (over from London for a summer holiday) have made this rather good (if I say so myself) ‘stop motion’ film. There are hints of Tarkovsky’s ‘Solaris’ as well as the classic ‘Blade Runner’ but more significant is the degree of violence. We could have three new Peckinpah’s in the making. And this is the home of the spaghetti western…


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JOYA / Lluís Sabadell Artiga / prototype installation… / Seta de Agua

gilding 1Here is the model prototype approaching the finishing stages, being gilded. It’s not purely decorative as the piece is here to perform a function too. The gold leaf will prevent snow and water penetrating the fabric of the prototype and causing damage. It also facilitates the maximum ‘run off’ of rain or snow melt water to the vessel which will be below ground. As I write I realise that I may not have given you an explanation as to the ideas behind Lluís Sabadell Artiga‘s installation….

Lluís has borrowed some ideas from Permaculture design specifically relating to arid zones such as we have here at Cortijada Los Gázquez.

gilding 2The piece is called ‘Seta de Agua’ or water mushroom (sounds better in Castellano). The idea is that this mushroom shaped funnel will collect rainwater directing it down to an unglazed terracotta jar buried just below the level of the surface of the ground. The water collected here will slowly permeate the walls of the vessel releasing valuable water and nutrient into the surrounding soil. The canopy above will also allow shade which will facilitate the germination of plant seed and protect seedlings from being burnt by the harsh rays of the sun. It is intended to create little biomes of sustainability free from the summer aridity which characterises this part of Spain.

Depending on the success of this prototype Lluís intends to build several larger pieces in the future. The larger pieces will be made entirely from ceramic the upper portion being glazed the lower just biscuit fired.

burying base pot

A particularly arid piece of land at Los Gázquez was selected and on the incline. This is Lluís and myself along with his children installing the terracotta base pot in the ground in advance of mounting the upper half.

LSA mounts piece

finishing mount

fifnishing installation

piece installed

installed from a distance 1

installed from a distance 2

The piece finally installed and looking preternaturally comfortable in it’s new surroundings it was time to celebrate with a private viewing under the star light…


And when the gathering had returned to the house I took one last opportunity before the day was done to photograph this object lit with no more than the celestial light of the moon and the stars. And it did seem to possess another character, one belonging to the night, one that offered the opportunity for new life…

by moonlight


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JOYA / Lluís Sabadell Artiga / work in progress…

Lluís talk

JOYA resident artist Lluís Sabadell Artiga gave guests an excellent talk the other night. His sound installations as well as performance pieces were accompanied by a thunderstorm at Los Gázquez, forks of lightning crossing the skyline in the window behind  the monitor. To see more of Lluís’s work look here.

lluis seta 1Progress on Lluís’s installation has been difficult. Firstly the last potter to use locally sourced clay has closed his doors necessitating a trip to Guadix (famous for ceramics). On arriving in Guadix Lluís was a little surprised and disappointed to find that the majority of ceramicists import their clay from Barcelona of all places, in his native Cataluña.

However one potter was found who did still make his own clay in the traditional way and he was all too happy to co-operate and give as much advice and support as he could, including a generous supply of clay. Should you be in Guadix be sure to look up one José Balboa, 5 Fuente Megías.

lluis seta 2When the mould was made the clay was cast, the idea being to be able to make a minimum of three more or less identical pieces for the installation. However technical issues ensued not allowing us to guarantee the success of the firing rendering each piece complete when taken from the kiln. This coupled with the high price of the firing necessitated another course of action…

It was decided that a proto type was the best way to pursue the project. If this were to be successful then a new installation in the spring of 2011 seemed the best course of action.

Lluis type two 1The original mould was cut in half utilising the upper ‘funnel’ only extending it somewhat. Then Lluís concocted a special compound, which we hope is weather resistant, to re-cast the shape. The hope is that this compound will be semi-porous on one side allowing the construction to breath but at the same time resistant to rain water or snow allowing it to perform it’s function. Today Lluís has gone back to Guadix to purchase a pre-ordered biscuit fired base for the piece which we hope to install tomorrow. He has also gone in search of organic materials to apply colour.

Lluis type two 2This picture shows the artist removing the proto-type from it’s mould. Colour mediums may include cuttlefish ink, charcoal and gold leaf.

The whole process really defines the artists creative malleability whilst not moving away from the original concept. Compromise has not been accepted merely a migration of technical means to complete the task. I shall follow up with more photographs later in the week.



Bespoke Creative Course / 7 Days Working with Clay…

making clay

We start by looking at art history, subject-matter in the European tradition, allegory, symbolism and metaphor, subject matter which is as relevant today as ever. From Etruscans, Greeks and Italians through the Middle Ages to contemporary life.

sleep 1For our exercise we settle upon the theme of Night. She holds a child in each hand, a white one who is sleep, a black one who is death. She wears the mask of an owl and a garland of poppies.

Our client is Canadian and although a beginner she is well accomplished in Soap Stone carving. Her influences are deeply First Nation Canadian which creates an interesting combination against the European tradition.

sleep 2We chose a plinth based form as it seemed more appropriate to soap stone. The clay we excavated from around Los Gázquez keeping us in firm connection with the origins of the material we were to use. The inspiration for the owl mask came from examining local species in the Comarca de Los Vélez. Nights children are in relief on either side of the figure hiding in her hair. Her face is seen below the mask inevitably sleeping.

sleep 3And to add further complication to our sculpture we chose to add Morpheus, the god of dreams, in a hollow mountain side, to the rear of the piece. He is like a Victorian vignette constructed as he is by different means. Still clay but it’s manipulation is different, it’s tradition more modernist, it’s lines more reductive and under less attention from the modellers knife.

The intention was to push the exercise to it’s limits and for this it served it’s purpose. Now we had to search for  greater creative potential…

Moor mask 1We made a face, tribal or primitive in it’s origins, the influence coming from Henry Moore and Picasso. It can be a struggle to move away from the purely representational and these kind of images are deceptively difficult. What appears to be crude manipulation of clay is actually complicated. The language is in the mark making, the line between success and failure is aloof and narrow. For this exercise we cast the clay face in Plaster of Paris, not to make a mould but to examine the fall of light. The fall of light is what creates the illusory values so important to learn when working in three dimensions. This is the crude, unclean result…

moor mask 2What you are looking at is the hollow impression of our clay sculpture. However the fall of light creates the opposite illusion. The face no longer recedes but grows and intensifies.

And our week flew by ending last night with our last supper looking a little like a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby.

la ultima chena desde J Wright of Derby



JOYA / Lluís Sabadell Artiga / work in progress…


JOYA / Lluís Sabadell Artiga / work in progress…



Refining clay with the help of volunteers…


Model making.



JOYA Welcomes Resident Artist Lluís Sabadell Artiga…

LluísWe are delighted to have Catalan artist Lluís Sabadell Artiga here at Cortijada Los Gázquez. He is going to be working on a project based installation within the next few weeks which in turn will initiate a re-direction for JOYA. For further details please keep following the blog, or even better come and visit.



Creative Course - Altos Caminos / Senderos de Cortijada Los Gázquez / Around the Sierra Larga

around the sierra larga

CREATIVE COURSE / CAMINOS ALTOS starts next week 7th-14th August followed by 2nd-9th October 2010 and 22nd-29th January 2011…

Around the Sierra Larga / 6Hrs / vultures /  eagles / ibex / flora etc… / fantastic views

Thanks again to Google Earth




Creative Course - Caminos Altos / Senderos de Los Gázquez / Torre del Charcón

torre del charcon

CREATIVE COURSE / CAMINOS ALTOS starts next week 7th-14th August followed by 2nd-9th October 2010 and 22nd-29th January 2011…

Torre del Charcón / 3-4 hours / vultures (lot’s) / eagles / ibex / landscape / geology

Taibena y Blanco route



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