Grampus Turing PEATS Placement III

Grampus Placement May 2023. Organised by Riba Rocks Association with the support of the Ajuntament of Riba-roja d’Ebre.

Week 1

Upon arrival to the Riba Rocks finca, the 5 art students; Kyle Leeson, Jasmin Robertson, Josephine O’Connor, Mhairi Brown and Dana Leslie were welcomed with an orientation and introduction into off-grid living: solar energy, rain water harvesting, compost toilets and the surrounding nature.

We also took a stroll to the recently discovered ice house, where ice was stored in a stone structure and then pieces sold and barged along the River Ebro. We visited the hermitage of Santa Madrona, positioned over looking the mighty Ebro, the hermitage is to protect those who sail along the Ebro.

On 1st of May (workers’ day) we participated in the ‘Clotxa’ (a traditional farmer’s breakfast of bread, garlic, tomatoes and sardines (vegan options for us!). This is a large annual fiesta above the Hydro Dam of Riba-roja, where many of the village attend.

In the afternoon we entered a paella competition with a vegan paella.

During this first week we visited the neighbouring village of Flix to explore the castle and the air raid shelter used in the Spanish Civil War. Also, the Sebes nature reserve in the wetlands created by the construction of the hydro electric dam, where we saw many bird hides and storks nesting as well as the Camargue horses that reside there, who are capable of wading in the marshes.

We had a guided tour of the Riu d’art Open Air Gallery, in the streets of Riba-roja organised by the Riba Rocks association. We explored village attractions, including the old streets (Nucli Antic), the church of Sant Bartomeu, the rural co-working centre and the area of Santo Domingo (built by the workers of the dam in the 1960s).

Later in the week we took a trip above the dam where we saw the flooded village of Fayón, that was destroyed when the dam was built. The clock tower can still be seen above the water. We also visited the Hermitage of Berrus, which was moved stone by stone to its new home from the flooded village. In this area we saw trenches used in the battle of the Ebro, a pivotal point in the Spanish Civil War.

To conclude this first week we took a guided tour of the local village of Corbera d’Ebre, where land art has been installed in the remains of buildings and the landscape. We also visited the Corbera d’Ebre interpretation centre.

Week 2

During this week there were several creative workshops. Local illustrator Roser Gay provided a travel journal and cyanotype workshop in her village based studio as well as excursions to draw in the local area.

Our very own Riba Rocks team member Andrea provided a workshop on the traditional Catalan mask making called Cap Grossos (literally translated as ‘big heads’).

Local artist Sarah Misselbrook provided a workshop on the tradition of making your own artist charcoal.

Sarah also worked with with team to produce a collaborative artwork in the village as part of the Riu d’art Open Air Gallery. Later that week we visited the local association of Puntaires to take part in a traditional local lace making class.

The following day we volunteered with the local nature association at Sebes to make pollinator shelters which will be installed in the new Riba-roja nature lagoon. At the end of the week we visited the local artisan bakery ‘Forn Montserrat’, where everyone had the opportunity to make local vegan treats such as ‘Coques’ and pastries.

On Saturday 13th of May and Sunday 14th we welcomed a visiting artist from Barcelona, Kathleen Day. Kathleen provided the Grampus participants with a workshop in Pysanky (the decoration of eggs originating from Ukraine, whereby wax and liquid dye produce elaborate patterns).

Week 3

In the final week of the placement, the artists completed the workshops with Roser Gay and Andrea.

The remainder of the placement was dedicated to the completion of a collaborative mural in the streets of Riba-roja. This culminated in an inauguration event on Thursday 18th May, to present the artwork to the village.

The mural is a wonderul addition to the Riu d’art Open Air Gallery, which situated on the main street. It takes inspiration from the surrounding environment, the river, the mountains and the flow of water.

What a superb artwork, which leaves a legacy of the artists’ stay here. Our final day together was celebrated with a vegan paella and a presentation of certificates to our wonferful participants.

This project has been financed by the Turing Scheme UK, through Grampus Heritage and Training and the Amics de Riba-roja.

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