Currently I am in residency in rural Spain near Veléz Blanco, Almería. The name is Joya www.joyaarteyecologia.org. and it is located within a national park called Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez.
Getting here is quite the adventure, a five hour drive south from Madrid and then about 20km past Velez Blanco on a very rough single lane dirt track which winds through the mountains passing through pine forest after pine forest, up and down, hairpin corners and rutted out and washed out sections of the road. This is a desert region and the residency is an off grid site with water being sparse and the source is collected and stored rain water. Electrical usage and warm water is dependent on the sun, solar panels and a wind turbine.
Cortijada de Los Gázquez was originally five abandoned farms which have been turned into an artists creative centre where artists from around the world come to apply themselves in a specific process or the continued fostering of ideas. I applied to the residency back in late 2014 and heard by late February that I would be able to attend the following fall. At the moment I am three days into the residency. I have spent my time familiarizing myself with my surroundings, the living space and the people. There are four other artists working here and each week that number could change as people leave and others arrive.
By day two I was out in the field cutting material for my project. I am working with the pruning material from the many almond trees on the property. The almond produces bright green shoots that require pruning annually to allow the tree to produce adequate fruit. My sculpture installation project will be formed from this material. On day three I was fortunate to have an assistant volunteer who accompanied me in the field to continue cutting and carrying it all back to my studio space.
My work here will address a specific call called Sistermos Efíremos. Here is a link to more information about the project. http://www.simonbeckmann.com/sistemas-efimeros/
The land in this region has suffered enormously from a lack of water in the past 50 years. The water catchment that was in place has dried up and currently doesn’t function at all as it once did. Joya is working to address this change and repair the water catchment to its original state. There are many factors to look at within the problem. Everything from massive soil erosion issues, the take over of pine trees that are not native to the area which contribute to erosion issues. The pilot holing for water in the town of Lorca for underground water channels to divert water which many claim has affected the water table level in the region causing the drying up of wells and catchments.
This water starved landscape is what my project addresses. I am creating a sculptural installation piece that offers a healing message to the landscape in the form of a sphere or spheres, orbs, balls..some sort of roundish shape that has the ability to move or roll across the landscape due to weather conditions such as the wind and as it moves it will carry a healing message to the landscape. My message will be embedded within the sculpture.
Here are some early photos: