Creative Course / Exploring Contemporary Art

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Exploring Contemporary Art at Cortijada Los Gázquez

Two five day summer schools in 2013

30 June – 4 July and 7 July – 11 July

Ever wondered what contemporary art is all about?

What exactly post-modernism is but were too afraid to ask?

Fancy learning something new whilst enjoying a sun-filled summer break?

‘Exploring Contemporary Art’ is a five day summer school that delves into contemporary art, why it looks the way it does and what it may all mean. Combined with fantastic Mediterranean food, twilight walks, starlight cinema and a focus on art and ecology, this summer school will equip you with the confidence to understand and ask questions of contemporary art. It takes place here at Cortijada Los Gázquez, a tranquil and stunning artists eco- retreat within a national park in the mountains of Andalucía, Spain.

Gill Nicol runs ‘lights going on’, making contemporary art accessible through talks, courses, training and workshops. Gill trained as an artist and has worked for many organisations including the Tate, Henry Moore Institute and the Ikon Gallery. Here’s what participants have said about her venture:

Most enjoyable was Gill’s approach and style of teaching. The informative, fizzy and genuine style turns two hours of talking into an enjoyable and stimulating experience.

Great delivery - passionate and engaging, but not too intellectual. - Make it longer, I wanted more!

Simon and Donna Beckmann are the directors of Cortijada Los Gázquez  creative retreat / eco-guest house and founders of Joya: arte + ecología - a residency/opportunity for artists engaged with ecology. Here is what previous guests and artists have said about them:

I don’t think that there was any point in my life when almost all my joys – art, outdoors, long walks, food, Mediterranean, peace, laughter, olive trees, soulful people and great conversations – were condensed in 12 hours a day, every day, for a week. Another one into the gratitude box’!

‘I could not have hoped for a better combination of restorative holiday and artistic challenge– I really appreciate the time they personally took to help me develop my skills and direction as an artist – and I have come away energised and inspired, and perhaps slightly chubbier from all that delicious cooking, bliss’!


Day one. Arrive, introduction to the next three days by Simon and Gill with champagne and supper with introductions.

Day two. Start bright and early after breakfast with session one 1900-1960. An introduction to Modernism, with key works from Picasso, Duchamp and Jackson Pollock, looking at Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism.

Lunch at 14.00hrs followed by siesta. Early evening walk/workshop. Evening light meal followed by The Joya: arte + ecology ‘starlight cinema’ projected onto the back of the cortijada, with a focus on an artists biography. Titles to be announced.

Day three. Another fabulous breakfast followed by session two 1960-1990. A look at post-modernism, and a whole load of ‘isms’ such as Arte Povera, Conceptual Art, Minimalism, Performance and Pop Art.

Lunch at 14.00hrs followed by siesta. Early evening walk/workshop. Evening light meal followed by The Joya: arte + ecology ‘starlight cinema’.

Day four. Enjoy the penultimate sun-soaked beautiful breakfast before commencing session three, the last 20 years. An in depth look at the YBA’s (young British Artists) and many other contemporary artists to understand how their work relates back to other works; how their practice reflects society and underlying themes of the last ten years. The last hour will look at 4 artists who work with the environment.

Lunch at 14.00hrs followed by siesta. Early evening walk/workshop. Evening light meal followed by Q+A  and a recap of the previous sessions. Finish the day with a party to celebrate what you have learned and shared

Day five. After breakfast leave Cortijada los Gázquez with new found confidence with contemporary art and a lot of good food inside you.

Cost: £ 500 for the summer school. This includes tuition, food and accommodation, but NOT flights.

Getting there: You can fly to Alicante, Granada, Almería or Murcia from where you can hire a car, take public transport (not Murcia) or we can arrange a taxi for you and your friends.

As an alternative, there is always the train.

Let’s suppose you are leaving a city in Northern Europe, for example London. Your destination is Granada, only an hour and a half away from Los Gázquez.

Take the lunchtime Eurostar to Paris and find a nice little restaurant there for supper. Next, take the ‘trainhotel’ overnight to Madrid.

The next morning? Well you will have plenty of time to visit one of the three big national art galleries here.

Museo del Prado - Goya’s ‘Black Paintings’ for example.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Miro, Kandinsky, Klee and all the way back to the guilded jewels of Italian and Dutch primitives.

Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia - Picasso’s Guernica.

When you have had your fill go and find some tapas on Cava Baja and then make your way to Atocha station and board the late afternoon train to Granada. It arrives just as the city comes awake at about nine thirty in the evening. Drink in some nightlife and the next morning visit the Alhambra Palace and Generalife gardens.

Bursting at the seams with culture you will be ready to visit Los Gázquez for a quiet considered and creative response to the fabulous art and architecture you have just seen.

Otherwise you can fly in the knowledge that your carbon foot print for such a journey is about equivalent to a week’s stay in a conventional hotel. Here at Los Gázquez we are carbon neutral so you have more or less offset the carbon emissions of your flight completely.