GRANADA has a long history of art and self-expression, with the most famous luminary being Frederico Garcia Lorca. Since then, many creatives have been drawn to this beautiful area – including poets, painters and, later, digital nomads.
Living amongst the mountains surrounding the Sierra Nevada are many talented female artists, who document their personal experiences using media ranging from paintbrushes to pixels.
Gym Halama of Lecrin
A resident of Chite, Lecrin, Gym, combines wit, irony, angst, and a ‘touch of anarchy’ for her life drawings and large paintings on canvas. She has recently completed a portrait of music producer, Youth – famous owner of the Space Mountain recording studio in Lecrin. She likes to observe the ‘human condition’ and ‘individual fragility’.
She says: “My Godmother’s faultless ink and watercolour sketches for fashion catalogues during the 50s and 60s influenced my desire to make art. Norman Rockwell’s lyrical caricatures and then the Pre Raphaelites stole my attention as a teenager. Life drawing became addictive to me.”
Andalucia has attracted Gym since 1970. She says: “I moved into Chite in the early 90s. Over a 10-year period, I fixed my eye on an abandoned flour mill, created my space to live, paint, and show my work downstairs at The Sandpit Gallery.”
“In 2021, I rented a warehouse near Lanjarón for three months as a challenge to myself, with absolutely no idea of what I would paint. Ten weeks later, 12 large canvases were hung for a ‘one night only’ exhibition called ‘TERMINAL’.”
- TERMINAL is on show at the Instituto de America in Santa Fe, Granada, from 21-22 September.
Armelle Boussidan of La Alpujarra
Armelle Boussidan, a resident of Lanjarón, is a French born painter and multidisciplinary artist working with acrylics, posca, ink, watercolour, pigments, and sand. She has roots in Morocco and, for the last 12 years, she has exhibited her work in various places throughout Europe.
Armelle explores ‘invisible energetic states channelled into an intimate, intuitive and sensitive language’, sometimes used for art therapy. Her work can take different directions, according to personal experiences.
Armelle is inspired by: “Me, you, all of us, the seen and unseen, nature and natural patterns, everything we feel, dream and can’t describe, the visible and invisible, portals of high energy, beauty in details and mud, pain, pleasure, grief and joy, the healing path, the vibration of a colour under a ray of light, a crystal glistening in the riverbed, all of it…”
She first arrived in Andalucia to become a Sunseed coordinator in 2016. A year later, she strolled around the spa town of Lanjarón with her ex-partner and ended up staying there.
Since then, she has been in and out of La Alpujarra, which keeps “calling me back like a magnet”. After spending time in Egypt and France, she returned to seek a home and studio for the winter.
Mix Amylo of Granada
Mix Amylo is an English artist, musician, writer, and composer. She hails from London but is usually found in Órgiva, or a cave house in Granada.
Having always drawn and created as a child, she returned to it later, studying in London, Accademia d’Arte in Florence, Cyprus School of Art, and Metàfora in Barcelona.
Described as ‘beautiful chaos’, her artwork weaves ‘the strength and fragility of the feminine using a highly detailed black and white surrealism’. She creates personal dreamscapes, tries to capture the subconscious, and find quirky ways to reveal the ‘dark beauty hidden in the ordinary world’.
Her artistic language uses recurring themes, such as circles, doorways, chessboards, female figures, eyes, mountains, and ladders.
The resulting works have been shown in different countries. Since living in rural Spain, Mix joined the art group, Artists Network Alpujarra (ANA), and has participated in many exhibitions. She organised an Open House exhibition in Órgiva, where other artists could exhibit their work alongside hers.
Lunita Loca of La Alpujarra
Lunita Loca is a digital illustrator living on an olive farm in the mountains of southern Spain. She has a passion for creating healing art full of colour, symbolism, and magic.
After 30 years away from art, she started drawing again during lockdown. She was trying to make sense of what was happening around the world through creativity. She could share her work instantly over social media and connect with others.
She explains: “The concept of ‘art is for everyone’ really appeals to me. Before moving to Spain, I lived in Bristol, where street art transformed the city into a walking gallery. From the rich to poor areas, the art spoke for itself and was inspirational, lifting your spirits and making you think or laugh out loud.”
“When my family moved to Spain, the landscape changed drastically. Now it was a time for reflection and healing. The mountains held me as I became a mother for the second time and found my way in the community.”
“During the summer of 2022, I was stung by a scorpion. What followed was a dark night of the soul. After 24 hours of pain, I awoke to find myself charged with a new spark of energy and confidence to put myself out there as an artist. Lunita Loca (crazy little moon) was born.”
“I created a website and shop and had my first exhibition. I’m making a book of poems written by people in the Orgiva community, which I have illustrated. This is in collaboration with spoken word activist, Ali P. Called ‘The Curious Creative Cat Café’, it’s out this Autumn.”
Meg Robinson of the Contraviesa
Meg Robinson moved to Alcázar in the Sierra de Contraviesa because she was drawn by “the wisdom of the country people, the richness of the ancient culture, the blue sky, and summer starry nights”. She creates art from personal experiences and describes her work as ‘autobiographical’, but she also has some themes.
One prominent theme was based on tracing her Jewish roots from Sephardic Spain to Lithuania, with five years travelling to explore countries including Alaska. In 2018, having found her Jewish roots and grandparents’ village of origin, a strong theme in her art was the inherited trauma passed down from generations of Baltic Jewish individuals and communities.
She says: “Discovering the identity of my Jewish father after 50 years searching was traumatic. It unleashed a tsunami of grief I couldn’t explain. So, I drew it.”
Meg is now creating art around a new theme, with a new palette of colours celebrating the three cultures she lost thought adoption – Irish, Dutch, and Lithuanian.
- LORCA’S LEGACY: on the trail of the famous poet in Spain’s Granada
- Meet three female authors inspired by Spain’s Alpujarras