The War Is Over…

Someone told me recently that the church bells rang differently depending on the event – death, mass etc. I expect this is true of most places but it’s not something I’d thought of before. This (Sunday) morning a single bell rang – the death toll maybe? Anyway, it’s a beautiful day. Spring seemed to drag its heels this year and no sooner than Spring has sprung, but summer is hot on its tails. At home, the downstairs is still cool but as you walk into the bedroom, warm air greets you and the metal door to the roof terrace is hot to the touch.

The weekend before last saw the opening of Art Gaucín, Artes Creativa Gaucín and – this year – the local and EU elections. With the coincidental timing of these events the village was standing to attention. Planters were spruced, public areas tidied up, the townhall even instigated a litter picking event. Our current Mayor Pedro Godino Martín was welcomed back in for another term! I hope that the events of the last two weekends brought welcome visitors to our bars and restaurants too – with no Toma this year, bringing in visitors from outside the village is important for trade. The media are reporting that Brexit has resulted in a reduction in holiday sales whilst holiday-makers hedge their bets. Villagers with holiday rentals in Gaucín tend to agree.

On the arts front, the long established and successful Art Gaucín has been probably the village’s biggest draw card for many years. Over two weekends of open studios, Gaucín’s finest artists – Art Gaucin – exhibit their work. 2019 saw new members such as Catherine Hunter’s cheeky heads and figurines, Christine Spencer-Green’s haunting portraits and Ira Goldberg’s expressive canvases joining the Art Gaucín fold, whilst artists like Sian Faber and Stephanie Thompson continue experimenting with new work.

Running parallel to Art Gaucín, Artes Creativa Gaucín opened for its second year and is rapidly becoming an unmissable event, celebrating all creative arts: textiles, ceramics, quilting, photography, crochet, needlework and costume design. This year’s special guest, master embroiderer Antonia Delgado Gonzalez, had an extraordinary story to tell. There was the welcome return of the village’s local masters of crochet and needlework, and new participants included Christian Chegne, who I suspect will outgrow the group and look for his own open studio space in future. A beautiful vintage Amish quilt was raffled off raising funds for future hanging systems at the exhibition space.

The highlight for me had to be Juan Manuel el Cid’s painted miniatures, particularly The War is Over, a recreation of the Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photograph encapsulating VJ Day.

I know that the organisers of both events hope to build on the relationship that has developed between them and continue to help Gaucín become a more inclusive village. It pleased me during these two weekends to see visitors – maps in hand – on our village streets and in our bars and restaurants. This year, more than ever, our Spanish visitors have increased in number. Walking home at the end of the last day, all the sites on my way were packing up for another year. Cars were being loaded with canvases and A frames. Art Gaucín fortnight is hard work for all involved and I suspect that once the celebrations are over, these artists will be keeping their heads down for a couple of days.

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