Grampus Erasmus+ PEATS Placement II

Grampus Placement May 2022. Organised by Riba Rocks Association with the support of Maria Franquet, Culture Councillor of Riba-roja d’Ebre.

In the month of May 2022, Riba-roja d’Ebre saw the arrival of 4 graduates from Scotland and England; Emma Jones, Jodie May Lilley, Diva Keith and Eden Parkes. As part of the Riba Rocks PEATS Placement, the graduates stayed on the off-grid olive farm in The Valley, with a focus on sustainability, low water consumption and a zero waste ethos.

The project is a Grampus Heritage and Training placement funded by Erasmus Plus. 

The group enjoyed the May 1st workers day fiesta on their first day here, meeting neighbours and enjoying the tradition of the Clotxa and Paella. The first week of the placement included visits to cultural and heritage sites including local churches and hermitages, a Juniper Oven and the Ice House, a visit to the Zona Liquida co-working centre, a guided tour of the Riba-roja dam, a visit to the Sebes Nature Reserve, a day trip to Corbera d’Ebre and local almond farm, hiking in the mountains, a visit to a local wood-turner and a guided tour of the Riu d’art Open Air Gallery. The week concluded with a visit to Forn Montserrat Bakery to learn how to make local delicacies including savoury cakes (pizzas), croissants, cupcakes and ecological bread. We enjoyed tasting the fruits of our labour washed down with local wine in great company! 

This provided the group with inspiration for their creative activities during their stay. Within the second week the graduates worked with local artist Sarah Misselbrook to create artwork installed in the forest. This included an exploration of body-casting techniques and charcoal making on the campfire. The results of this workshop have been installed in site-specific places to create a trail from the farm up to Yoga Rock which has been made into a video. Within this week we volunteered for the local Sebes Nature Reserve Association and learned how to construct bat shelters. These will be installed in the Riba-roja meander on biodiversity towers this summer. We then enjoyed a Friday evening visit to the local lace-making association class to watch them create their beautiful intricate lace. 

In the third week and forth weeks, we attended workshops by Roser Gay and Isabel Torres. The workshop with Roser Gay focussed on the creation of a nature diary. Roser organised visits to her riverside finca, the Ribera d’Ebre forest and the abandoned buildings within the factory site of Flix. During these visits, we created observational drawings and paintings for our nature journals.

Roser then showed us various watercolour techniques as well as Japanese book-binding method to create our artist books. Roser also showed us how to create cyanotype prints using photographs, collected flowers and structures from our visits. The results are amazing! 

The workshop with Isabel Torres presented the tradition of the Cap Grossos (giant heads). Isabel taught the group how to use the basic paper mache technique to create a large scale form, over which each artist sculpted using paper paste the details of their characters. The group produced wonderfully individual Cap Grossos, drawing inspiration from their stay and political and social issues. 

Within the final two weeks, the group designed and created a very large scale mural in the barrio of Santo Domingo. A collaborative artwork taking it’s inspiration from the visit to the dam and the nature reserve. “The mural depicts the control that both the dam and humans have over the environment. We were also inspired by the dam’s significance to Santo Domingo”.

The Santo Domingo barrio was constructed by dam workers for their living requirements, they built the dam during the week and then their own houses on Sundays, hence ‘Domingo’. This large artwork is now part of the Riu d’art Open Air Gallery, which now boasts 33 artworks in the streets of Riba-roja d’Ebre. 

We arranged an inauguration event to present to the public the new artwork and explain the concept and inspiration. Also on show were the artists’ books and their Cap Grossos creations.

The artists were then given their certificates for completing the placement with such passion and energy. Their engagement with every element of the stay was outstanding! Congratulations! 

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