Text and images by Stephen Bennett, MA Art and Science, Central Saint Martins
The Art for the Environment International Artist Residency Programme (AER) was launched in 2015 by member of the UAL Research Centre for Sustainable Fashion and UAL Chair of Art and the Environment Professor Lucy Orta and coordinated by CSF Associate Curator Camilla Palestra.
Stephen Bennett from the MA Art and Science course at Central Saint Martins was selected for this years’ AER 2017 Residency at the Joya: arte + ecología in Provincia de Almería, Spain and reports back to the Postgraduate Community at UAL here:
The map and the terrain: Joya: arte + ecología
Joya: arte + ecología is located in Eastern Andalusia, in the rain shadow of the great Sierra Nevada. It is in the driest part of Spain, a place that John Vidal has described as one of the world’s global climate hotspots. The earth is silvery white clay, baked rock hard by the Mediterranean sun. The countryside is inhabited by Aleppo pines, almond groves and few people. The aroma is intoxicating, partly heated-up pine trees, mainly the hardy herbs which are essential for knitting together the soil: thyme, lavender, sage, rosemary.
This is the setting in which the Joya arts-led field research centre operates. There are hardships, certainly – water is trucked in, telecommunications are intermittent, wasps less so. And there are amazing amenities: the inspiring sights, smells and sounds; the time and space to reflect.