Archive for October, 2011

Joya: arte + ecología / Lights Going On / AGUAZERO

Once again friend and collaborator of Cortijada Los Gázquez and the Joya: arte + ecología residency/opportunity, Gill Nicol of Lights Going On has created another post on her fantastic web site in support of our AGUAZERO award. Joya: arte + ecología is inviting submissions for a competition which has an environmental agenda.

This is the sixth week Gill Nicol, as an independent arts consultant specialising in contemporary art, has looked at an artist who has engaged with environmental issues through their work. These ‘posts’ are designed to be ‘inspirational prompts’ for those considering applying for the award.


Christine Baeumler

Artist Christine Baeumler has recently focused on the Amazon rainforest and the creatures that are in danger of being wiped out within the fragile ecosystem. In 2009, she travelled to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve; five million acres of rainforest in northeastern Peru. The resulting photographs are of black caimans, river otters and howler monkeys; the images then worked on with dark ink and paint, literally making them disappear.

She says
‘I approach my work through the combined perspective of art and the natural sciences. By placing myself in the role of the careful observer, I shadow the practices of earlier naturalist explorers who traveled to investigate unfamiliar species and habitats. Research has taken me to the Northern Australian Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. My practice departs from scientific inquiry in the subjectivity of the results. The work is not a description of place but rather a record of my experience through the process of perception and memory.’

Currently, my work is motivated by the impact of global climate disruption on rainforests, reefs and in the deep sea. My concern lies not only with the diminishment of ecosystems but also with the extinction of the human experience and knowledge of these environments and the species that inhabit them. By portraying worlds remote from our daily experiences, yet impacted ecologically by our actions, the work offers the viewer a glimpse into these compelling, fragile, and often invisible worlds.

Since July 2007, Christine has been involved in an ongoing dialogue with LAND2, part of PLaCE based at University of West of England, in Bristol. PLaCE is a grouping of creative, practice led, academic research centers that address issues of site, location, context and environment at the intersection of a multiplicity of disciplines and practices. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, USA.

This is the sixth artist I have looked at, who focuses on ecological issues in their practice; written as part of an invitation by Los Gazquez and their opportunity/residency award AGUAZERO/Joya: arte + ecología.



Joya: arte + ecología in the UK


This week Joya: arte + ecología is in the UK (at least Simon that is). He will be talking to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and the University of the Arts, London about Cortijada Los Gázquez and our ecology systems, our creative courses, the Joya residency/opportunity and the Parqué Natural Sierra María - Los Vélez.

In Wales he will also be running a workshop on landscape character assessment and the value of research. The talks at both universities are pre cursors to ‘group’ residencies at Cortijada Los Gázquez in early spring 2012.



Joya: arte + ecología / Lights Going On / AGUAZERO

How-to-survive-the-coming-bad-years-2008-300x199Ivan and Heather Morison

In 2005, artists Heather and Ivan Morison bought a piece of ancient woodland in North Wales. They have developed it into an arboretum with as many trees from around the world as possible. Timber from older trees is then recycled into their projects.

All their work is a comment on Nature in some way or another. In 2008, they made a tea house entitled I am so sorry.Goodbye as part of the Tatton Park Biennial, using the park’s felled trees. In 2007, they designed and made The Black Cloud, situated in a park in Bristol, and made to withstand a burning and boiling hot sun. The roof design was based on the Shabono shelters of Venezuela, which has a communal central area with sheltered living space around the outside. This work encourages the public to come and carry out their own events and happenings.

Another beautiful work is How to Survive the Coming Bad Years. Created in 2008 and exhibited in ancient woodland at the National Trust property, Attingham Park, this very large clay structure is inspired by traditional rookeries found throughout the Middle East where in return for shelter, the birds provide squab to eat and guano to fertilise the land on which food is cultivated. The piece was part of a Meadow Arts show.

The following is taken from a report by Heather Morison as part of an Arts & Ecology discussion June 2007:

….art can bring a real understanding to environmental issues in some amazing exceptional works such as Joseph Beuys 7000 oaks. The film work we are showing at the Venice Biennale, Dark Star, 2007 shows images from Slab City, in California. ..We have been influenced by Brian Aldiss book ‘Hothaus’, which is a cautionary tale of global warming and J G Ballard’s four books that look at what would happen to the earth if there were a drought, a flood, a constant hurricane or if nature began to crystallize. It is this post disaster world, and the human struggle to contain and control it that that interests us in terms of our engagement with environmental issues and concerns. We like to ask what is right and wrong in nature? Are humans just scared of change? Are we just battling nature, and won’t it win in the end?

Heather and Ivan Morison live and work in Brighton and North Wales. For more information about them, look here.

This is Gill Nicol’s fifth blog, looking at artists and ecology, as part of an invitation by us here at Los Gázquez to promote and stimulate artists to apply for our opportunity/residency award AGUAZERO/Joya: arte + ecología



Going Dutch / volunteer arts

An important element in the running of Cortijada Los Gázquez and Joya: arte + ecología is the reciprocal nature of our relationship with volunteers. We have had young folk from all around the globe staying with us and in return for food and a roof over their heads we ask them to help out in the day to day running of the place.

Many of our volunteers are drawn to our arts and ecology agenda which is great as you have a like minded soul at your door always keen to be involved. Often it’s not just a passing interest in the arts that brings them to us but the fact that they can already be accomplished artists. Currently we are drawing to an end a few weeks with the company of Dutch man Diederik Leutscher. So in tribute to him I thought it would be nice to publish some of his photography. All this work has been made during his volunteer period with us….








Creative Course / art + ecology

Art Ecology 500

Art and Ecology is a six day (or less) course designed to help you develop the tools needed to extract creative ideas from your immediate landscape.

This is not just depicting the landscape but engaging with it.

The location is specific to the high alpine desert of Almería in southern Spain inside theParque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez. The course is held at Cortijada Los Gázquez, creative retreat and eco-guest house, an off-grid and totally sustainable location.

*(a week at Cortijada Los Gázquez as opposed to a conventional hotel will off-set the carbon emissions from a return flight from northern europe)

You will be guided to make informed creative decisions as a consequence of studying the history and culture, (agrarian and otherwise) of the area, the climate in relation to climate change, flora and fauna, issues of sustainability through ecology systems and landscape character assessments.

As your ideas formulate we will…

For further information contact Simon on [email protected]



Joya: arte + ecología / Clare Price

C.Price 1

‘There is an experimentation in the works with format and new plays on the grid. Whilst adhering to the familiar formalist rules of earlier paintings, more recent works display a new energy and freedom that is seen both in leaving behind the traditional landscape format and also a breaking down of the relationship to the original drawing.  The works are looser more lyrical and romantic, using Helen Frankenthaler inspired washes and water based oil paint and gouache which is used wet in wet. The household paints are still present but used more sparingly . The palette utilises more naturalistic and classical colours inspired by artist such as Ingres and Turner.  There is an opening up of the pixellated grid so some works are open and spare while others are still obsessive, complex and frenetic.  Seductive subtle tones butt up against heightened modern colours. Washes flow voluptuously over the canvas whilst pixellated elements that punctuate the image are meticulous, graphic and sharp.

Less toxic more romantic, in some works more spare but others pushed
to the limits- to sum it up’!

Clare Price



Joya: arte + ecología / Lights Going On / AGUAZERO

Once again friend and collaborator of Cortijada Los Gázquez and the Joya: arte + ecología residency/opportunity, Gill Nicol of Lights Going On has created another post on her fantastic web site in support of our AGUAZERO award. Joya: arte + ecología is inviting submissions for a competition which has an environmental agenda.

This is the fourth week Gill Nicol, as an independent arts consultant specialising in contemporary art, has  looked at an artist who has engaged with environmental issues through their work. These ‘posts’ are designed to be ‘inspirational prompts’ for those considering applying for the award.

HarrisonsNewton and Helen Mayer Harrison

Known collectively as the Harrisons, Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison have worked together for over forty years to explore ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development. They have worked all over the world, focusing on aspects of urban renewal, agriculture and forestry. A lot of their projects begin with an invitation; they explore by imagining a ‘what if..’ and with the help of many people, including ecologists, art activists and planners, go on to propose radical solutions from an artist’s perspective.

In 1998, they were invited by artranspennine – one of the first lottery funded projects in the UK – to respond to the ‘transpennine’ region, an area stretching between Liverpool to Hull. The subsequent exhibition at Bluecoat Gallery saw five large ‘imaginings’ of the region, via huge maps, looking at what might happen if a large part of it was farmed differently; or what it might look like if Manchester and Liverpool began to join together with the mass spread of housing.

“Our work begins when we perceive an anomaly in the environment that is the result of opposing beliefs or contradictory metaphors. Moments when reality no longer appears seamless and the cost of belief has become outrageous offer the opportunity to create new spaces – first in the mind and thereafter in everyday life.”

The image is from a more recent work, funded by the Government’s Climate Change programme in 2007. Greenhouse Britain expressed what the rising of waters would mean to the landscape of this island. It takes three positions: of defence; withdrawal; and then defence and withdrawal to higher ground.

They see what they do as rooted in an issue for survival. Nature is a conversation, and they present their work as such: providing visual and textual narratives to rethink how we are living on this planet. Their website is very comprehensive and covers many of their extraordinary projects.




Joya: arte + ecología / ecoarttech

The collaboration of American artists Leila Nadir and Cary Peppermint as ecoarttech are coming to Joya: arte + ecología in May and June 2012. Their work is unique in it’s simultaneous engagement with issues of sustainability and new media culture. Click on the image to find out more.


ecoarttech is excited about the opportunity to further explore our philosophies and practices in the unique environment provided for artists at Joya: arte + ecología, Cortijada Los Gázquez. We spend a lot of time in the North American wilderness, and we believe Los Gázquez and the Joya facilities would provide the opportunity to respond to a new type of “wild” space, including a new ecosystem and the off-the-grid design.’

Leila Nadir and Cary Peppermint



Joya: arte + ecología / Lights Going On / AGUAZERO

Aguazero 300

Friend and collaborator with Joya: arte + ecología, Gill Nicol  of lightsgoingon ,
(former Head of Interaction at Arnolfini Gallery; director of Spike Print Studio in Bristol and numerous other things) has kindly offered to help us ameliorate our arts award, AGUAZERO.

Joya: arte + ecología is inviting submissions for a competition which has an environmental agenda.

This is the third week Gill Nicol, as an independent arts consultant specialising in contemporary art, has  looked at an artist who has engaged with environmental issues through their work. These ‘posts’ are designed to be ‘inspirational prompts’ for those considering applying for the award. She will be posting on her web site, lightsgoingon, and here on our blog as well as on the Joya: arte + ecologíaFacebook Page.

Art and Ecology – Agnes Denes


One of the few women artists working with art and the environment, Agnes Denes’ most spectacular work has been Wheatfield – A Confrontation. In 1982, she planted and harvested two acres of wheat in a landfill site next to Battery Park in New York – a piece of land worth $4.5 billion. Two hundred truckloads of dirt were brought in and 285 furrows were dug by hand and cleared of rocks and garbage. The seeds were also planted by hand and the furrows covered with soil. The field was maintained for four months, weeded, fertilized and sprayed against mildew fungus, and an irrigation system set up. Such an incredible visual image – of wheat blowing gently in the breeze, but set amongst towering skyscrapers and traffic noise.

The harvested grain travelled to twenty-eight cities around the world in an exhibition entitled “The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger”, organised by the Minnesota Museum of Art (1987-90). The seeds were eventually carried away by people who planted them in many parts of the globe. In 2009, as part of the Radical Nature exhibition at the Barbican in London, Wheatfield was restaged at an abandoned railway line in Dalston, East London.

She has said about it:

Wheatfield was a symbol, a universal concept; it represented food, energy, commerce, world trade and economics. It referred to mismanagement, waste world hunger and ecological concerns.

She has gone on to achieve further significant plantings. In 1996, she completed Tree Mountain – A Living Time Capsule in Finland, a massive earthwork and reclamation project. A huge manmade mountain measuring 420 meters long, 270 meters wide, 28 meters high and elliptical in shape was planted with eleven thousand trees by eleven thousand people from all over the world at the Pinzio gravel pits near Ylojarvi, Finland. Sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, Tree Mountain is protected land to be maintained for four centuries, eventually creating a virgin forest. The trees are planted in an intricate mathematical pattern derived from a combination of the golden section and the pineapple/sunflower patterns.

People who planted the trees received certificates, acknowledging them as custodians of the trees. The certificate is an inheritable document valid for twenty or more generations in the future.

The philosophy behind my work is to create intelligent and beautiful works of art that educate people and earn their place in the public arena by making people feel good about themselves and their surroundings. My work speaks to people from all walks of life creating a strong impact that becomes identified with the site, building or neighbourhood, giving it a special identity.

She has been truly monumental in her thinking; one of the first contemporary artists to examine the relationship of art and science. She has written four books and her work as both an artist and academic has huge relevance for us in the future. She believes that it is through art and science working together and sharing ideas, that new, globally relevant suggestions for change may emerge which can avert the ecological catastrophe that threatens mankind and can guarantee the conditions for global survival.

The third blog written in response to an invitation by  Los Gazquez and their opportunity/residency award AGUAZERO/Joya: arte + ecología



Willcommen besucher aus dem Urlaub Architektur

holiday architecture photo

Welcome visitors from Urlaub Architekture. The image you see above is a segment from the installation SUNTRAP by New York artist Melissa Marks. The wall painting is in a secluded courtyard to the rear of the cortijada. Plans are in place for an extension to the work in spring 2012.

SUNTRAP is part of our ongoing programme Joya: arte + ecología, an artists residency/opportunity here at Cortijada Los Gázquez. We, through invitation, open call or competition, invite artists who’s work has concerns with environmental issues to come and work here for a short time to experience  the semi-wilderness of this alpine desert.

Cortijada Los Gázquez is in the centre of the Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez in the north of Almería, a place of outstanding natural beauty. Joya: arte + ecología also augments the experience of guests coming here to participate in our creative courses.

We are also a destination for those who like vernacular/new-vernacular architecture, peace and tranquillity, walking, cycling etc.