Joya: resident artists / Laura Harrington


‘Bottomless’ 2012

Joya: arte + ecología resident artist Laura Harrington

Laura Harrington is an artist who was born in mid Wales but now lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne. Working with a broad range of materials and media she makes works that are open to cross-disciplinary collaboration and numerous contexts. The projects engage with ecology and landscape, involving integrated research in the environment, responding to the knowledge developed in science by teasing out the poetic that often hides within. Layering subjective experience onto objective analysis. Many projects examine the micro to show the macro and weave elements together to display a wider story - informed by research and inspired by experience.

In 2009/10 she was artist in residence with Environment Agency North East developing a number of projects around Northumberland, (s small electronic publication produced as an outcome of this residency can be downloaded from

Last year she was awarded one of VARC’s (Visual Arts for Rural Communities) Artist Project Funds and an Arts Council England grant o develop Layerscape (peat bogs), a 16mm film with sound that explores the vast peatbogs and mires of Northumberland and the North Pennines. This was made in collaboration with film-makers Sarah Bouttell and Deborah Bower and sound artist Lee Patterson and developed with The North Pennines AONB Partnership, Natural England and the Forestry Commission. The work was presented as part of AV Festival 12: As Slow as Possible (, where a short contemplative walk lead people to an upland bothy cinema.

The Arts Council England Grant also supported research and development for the collaborative project Where are the Wild Ones? the opera with sound artist Kaffe Matthews. This is an ongoing research project exploring the migratory journey of Atlantic salmon on the river Tyne in collaboration with Environment Agency North East and Northumberland school children. This research also formed part of an artist residency with ISIS arts. This audio visual performance will be premiered in summer 2013. In June 2012 the artists will present a talk about the research so far at the V&A as part of Supersonix, ( as well as being artists in residence on board Flow (

Since July 2008 she has worked part time as Exhibitions Co-ordinator with Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.

Still from Layerscape (peat bogs)

Still from ‘Layerscape’ (peat bogs) 2012

‘New work at Cortijada Los Gázquez and the Joya: arte + ecología residency, will build on existing research that sits within a series of ongoing projects about complex natural environments. A series of intricate line drawings that are created as a result of exploring the vegetation and dry landscape of the surrounding area will be made, in an attempt to create an alternative guide to the area. Two weeks will be spent embedded and immersed in this new landscape, seeking to understand its habitats and environment – how it was formed, how it has changed and how human activity has altered or affected its character. The exploration, taking place over the whole site, will focus on finding evidence of disappearance, change or vulnerability. Looking for forms and remnants from occurrences such as drought, flooding, erosion and human intervention will be an integral part of the research’.

Laura Harrington

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Joya residency / University of Aberystwyth

Group residency with Joya: arte + ecología from the University of Aberystwyth Fine Art / Clare Ward (student)


Joya: arte + ecología wasn’t what I expected. I thought naively that I would go, produce some work and return. It was much more. The fact it took us into a remote location, the environment arid and the house a palace, defined, self-sufficient, white and the air clear I entered into a major dialogue with myself about `how do you actually do what you say’.

My application words were clear, the camera came out, shooting the entire visual feast around us, the four elements, earth wind fire and water shaping the images. But defining the images was the challenge. Combining the thinking, connecting it all up by this invisible visual and cerebral red thread, I could link two thoughts but needed a third. It wasn’t easy. So something happened that I had not properly experienced before. I let go, and submerged myself in the world of intuition. Though not my original theme, `Duende’, Spanish for soul, grasped tight, and I started combining photographs, the unexpected happened, the intuition linked and in a matter of days produced images that corresponded with my thoughts, the process continues. My battle with purpose had dissolved like a lump of sugar in a hot bath and melded, sea salt and lemon juice infused in the water adding the final twist. My conclusion with the help of extraordinarily rich conversation from others is that the intuition is our key, calculating it is catastrophic; instead the lucidity comes from your ability to trust it and work with it, not caging it. It is this that Joya began and I am eternally grateful’.

Clare Ward

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Joya: residencies / University of Aberystwyth

Group residency with Joya: arte + ecología from the University of Aberystwyth Fine Art / Kim James-Williams (student)


‘Drawing a Week at Joya: arte + ecología

Location: Cortijada los Gázquez, Parque Natural  Sierra María-Los Vélez

Intention: to make a collection of drawings in a new environment.

Dimensions: a week, a farm in Andalucia, 13 artists from Wales, an unknown space.

Materials: paper (28×38cm), ink, brushes, bamboo pens, earth, egg, light, clear air, conversations, time, figs, wine, masking tape.

Questions: and where the drawings would lead, how far a week would stretch, how would the environment influence the drawings (apart from the subject), would I engage with the landscape, would I find ‘the zone’, would I miss my children (enough), would I find the right space, would I have enough paper, what questions would I ask.

Testing: the principle that I can draw anything and so make work that can be immediately installed relate directly to its environment: “in the element immerse”, and ‘concentrate the mind on the present moment’.

Result: 120 drawings of stuff; informed by philosophical, human and ridiculous conversations weaving through, by the way clouds over sun changed the light and the wind, the awareness of water (snow, wide grey gutters, tap on the toilet), the scale of the landscape, the whiteness of walls and greyness of polished cement, spikey plants, channels of dust.

Conclusion: the drawings were of the place and people, shown in the place and to the people. When I emerged from them, they surprised me. Drawing causes focus, concentration at an intuitive level:  Joya is now part of my language. Did I give anything back? I gave the place my time, and perhaps a reflection of itself.

Thank you: to my fellow travellers for being superb and our hosts and Maxine the dog’.

Kim 1:500

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Joya: residencies / University of Aberystwyth

Group residency with Joya: arte + ecología from the University of Aberystwyth Fine Art / Irene Clarke (student)

Irene 1

‘The weeks residency spent at Joya: arte + ecología was unique.  It was an inspiring experience involving my work and was the fresh change that brought a new light to my ideas concerning current work.  Simon and Donna really were the perfect hosts, making us feel like their house was our home for the week.  In the future I would love to be in the position to visit this wonderful place again’.

Irene Clarke

Irene 2:500

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Joya: residencies / University of Aberystwyth

Group residency with Joya: arte + ecología from the University of Aberystwyth Fine Art  / Vivian Chinasa Ezugha (student)


‘My experience at  Cortijada Los Gázquez and the Joya: arte + ecología residency has changed the way I view the world I live in. I am inspired  and grateful for being able to take part in this wonderful journey. I can truly say that this journey has given me a new preceptive on what it means to have a home.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”

Maya Angelou

Vivian Chinasa Ezugha



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Joya: residencies / University of Aberystwyth

Group residency with Joya: arte + ecología from the University of Aberystwyth Fine Art / Miranda Whall (lecturer)

Miranda 2

‘My second time at Los Gázquez and Joya: arte + ecología with 12 students from Aberystwyth University was a very different experience to my first as artist in residence last June. This time I had to establish a persona that encompassed the multi faceted roles of lecturer, group leader, artist, friend and artist/mother/teacher finding some respite! As artist in residence last year I felt like the luckiest person in the world, ‘a Queen’ came to mind, as I threw myself onto a big crispy sheeted bed in a room that just had one dash of colour and a vase of water with a glass, waiting - ahh so much clear uncluttered space at last. I found pure unadulterated self indulgent pleasure in the very soft quietness of long hot afternoons and in the plaster white washed smooth walls, cool concrete floors, dark corners, bright dancing sun lit walls, gorgeous food and red wine! I found at last that I could wonder and wander, again, as the days turned from cool to hot to cool again, after some years of being a teacher and a mother with literally no time to think let alone drift around in meandering thoughts this was luxury and I intended to deserve it. The deliciousness of listless thinking became lucid and creativity was unleashed, a surprisingly vicious poem spewed and spluttered from nowhere to fall upon a poor twitching weed I had travelled so far to find and a project unfolded that still makes my hair stand on end….’

‘This time I had the pleasure of the uncluttered space and this time cold crisp air and sharper light but not an uncluttered mind, this time I was ‘working’ so I had to think quickly, I had to speedily rummage, dig deep and find something that could become a meaningful component in the bigger scheme of things with half a brain and half the time - well maybe I managed much more than half!. My ambitious long term project ‘The Quests’ has a simple structure that when followed allows for almost anything to happen so I found it while rummaging at the back of the cupboard, grasped it by the scruff of the neck and gave something a go, a hunch thats all…small finger pots made from local clay and snow and stuffed with rosemary were sweet but were not going to get me anywhere.…quick move on get serious - right. It all happened so quickly I can’t account or yet analyse the process but after fighting with every technical hitch that could have presented itself I made a series of very feminine very pink, flickering out of focus films accompanied by the repetitive, rounded and soft voice of a jealous Nigerian woman, she was jealous of a blossom tree! this time wonderfully she gave me the text as a spontaneous gift, the language was music again, and the image was as elusive, evasive and immersive as I could have wished, it was another cliche but a perfect cliche for my ‘Quests’; another texture, another emotion, another journey, another list of thank you’s, thank you’.

Miranda Whall



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Joya: arte + ecología / University of Aberystwyth Fine Art

Aberystwyth University

AberystwythAt the end of this March we have nine Fine Art students coming from the University of Aberystwyth for a group residency. This has been, and continues to be, an enjoyable experience for Joya: arte + ecología as well as for the student groups we have here and it is an arrangement we wish to amplify in the future.

For those outside of the UK and not familiar with the name, Aberystwyth is a university town in west central Wales (Gales) and is set in some of the most beautiful countryside in Great Britain.

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Joya: arte + ecología / resident artist Rebecca Partridge

Rebecca Partridge 4

‘I intend to use my time and the space at Los Gazquez to continue my normal practice, however this setting and the philosophy of Joya: arte + ecología gives me a rare opportunity to both immerse myself in landscape and consider the deeper relationships at work between landscape, painting and mindfulness. I am currently preparing a phd research proposal, and as practice based research my main concern currently is to clearly articulate how a mindfulness practice can form a methodology in the studio. This is what I intend to work out during my residency, both through being in the landscape and producing a series of watercolours based on my experience and observation.

My work shifts between abstraction and photorealism, however each piece is essentially exploring perceptual structures whether they be internal or perceived in nature. Process is at the heart of this practice, as is a sense of dualities and time. The photoreal while normally a fleeting moment is considerably slowed by the mindful practice of painting. Equally some abstract works can be as loose and ephemeral as a zen painting. Together, although pieces appear very differently, the work makes up a network of abstract dualities, a frame work within which I can experiment and allow different things to happen’.

Rebecca Partridge


watercolour on paper

Day Trees, watercolour on paper, 100 x 80cm, 2011, 3500 euros

watercolour on paper

Rebecca Partridge  has a BA (hons) in Fine Art painting from Bath Spa University College and a Post Graduate Diploma from the Royal Academy Schools.

She divides her time between London and Berlin.

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Joya: arte + ecología / Aguazero Award

aguazero Kaori Homma 4

In the autumn of last year Joya: arte + ecología launched what is going to be one of four awards each year. Each award sets out an ecological agenda for artists whose practice might already conform to, or one which may inspire them to work towards, that notion. The recipient of the award receives the opportunity to take up a two week supported residency at the home of Joya: arte + ecología, Cortijada Los Gázquez.

Our first award is called Aguazero. We invited submissions in water-based medium on or with paper.

The award requested submissions to reference the contrary character of climate change. For example, increased desertification and the escalating effects of weather events such as flooding and soil erosion etc.

We asked that the work should be based on observation, experience and invention. It must be as involved with the process and materials of painting/drawing etc. as with the response to climate change.

We asked for works that invited close scrutiny and, like environmental events in the world around us, reveal themselves gradually and steadily over time, prompting reaction and renewed contemplation of the ecological challenges the world faces.

The deadline was New Years Eve and we received a lot of very good submissions that our panel of selectors spent all of January reading. Finally, we made the very difficult decision on choosing the artist we would like to invite. She is the Japanese artist Kaori Homma.

Homma’s images are not made by pigment sitting on the surface of the paper but a technique usually associated with secret correspondence used in the past, called ‘aburidashi’ in Japanese.

‘Invisible Ink made with lemon juice is used to draw images, slightly altering the delicate balance of paper, once exposed to heat, images are burnt into paper as an integral part of its structure, which are then washed through in water to rid of the trace of acidity.

The resulting image contains a level of fragility and notion of death within it by nature.

In my work the connotation of transience associated with the methodology is important as it highlights a position at the opposite end of spectrum from the monumentalism, even through the actual physicality of the drawing endures.

The importance of this notion of ephemeral has been acutely felt though the recent Japanese Nuclear disaster triggered by the earthquake and tsunami, as it has highlighted an environmental landscape on the brink of a catastrophic paradigm change, and the fragility of our existence on this planet.

Being a Japanese artist, the above notion is no longer simply a theoretical concern but personal’.

Kaori Homma

Artist and selector Melissa Marks observed…

‘Homma’s work expresses its unique relationship to ecology and nature with a sensitive awareness of both material and idea.  The AGUAZERO awards special criteria of observation, experience and invention resonates in Homma’s project through it’s expansive view of history and current events in climate change in combination with a strong commitment to process, drawing, and interior exploration’.

We look forward to receiving Kaori Homma at Joya: arte + ecología at a date to be announced later this year.

The Aguazero award has been made possible, in no small part, by the generous support of St Jude’s limited edition prints. We would like to thank them for their generous assistance in making this award happen.

We would also like to express our gratitude for the interest and support given by all those who entered the Aguazero Award.

Should anyone be interested in supporting the Joya: arte + ecología award next time we would be grateful for a contribution towards the artists European travel expenses and in return, if you so wish, we will more than happily promote your sponsorship along with the award.

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Michael Pawlyn / Biomimicry Group / Cortijada Los Gázquez

A recent and very interesting guest at Cortijada Los Gázquez working with the Biomimicry Group architect Michael Pawlyn. Here is his great TED talk…

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