30 of January 2020 we meet at 10am in the color garden to plant a couple of fruit trees. We will check existing trees. By pruning and cleaning we will maintain the project of plantation.
Meeting points: 9.50am CASAdelDRAGON or 10am Color Garden
Part of the foundation of a living community is a solution for cheap and healthy food.
To survive in the future you need to know what you can eat, where you can find it and how to protect it.
In east spain we experience a change in clima. More heavy rain events with floodings and hot and dry sessions in summer are alternating.
In our fruit tree project we discover robust variations which can handle this new climatic conditions. Using strategies of fuzzy logic we act by setting up some local solutions and nature is teaching us, what might be sustainable.
You are welcome with your ideas. Lets meet and enjoy the planting session.
In early 2020 we had a lot of talks about living in communities, values and goals and further activities and upcoming projects.
It was also a time to reflext about the last years. The following collection gives an overview about social educative artistic activities of our community and address one Always re-emerging question: “What is this all about?”
In spain we are runing an artist residence, the house of the dragon (CASAdelDRAGON). One key to deliver informal education is a huge garden area called the color garden. It is our campus and space for a lot of social activities like camps in nature for families with kids (left photo).
Also we are involved in the summer school activities of APEAL, which is a NGO in Bucharest (Romania).
For the community project of ApEAL in Chiocanesti near Bucharest we collected some IT stuff to enable the association for computerbased workshops.
A group of biology students was building a bridge over one old water channel, designed by roman and arabic conquerors. This project was not part of the original workshop but the realisation of a common wish of the students to contribute in some way to the social project of our color garden.
The CASAdelDRAGON is an artist residence, guest house and a think tank for innovative social art projects. In the basement of the house we run a gallery since more than 10 years and we use the space also for partizipative art installations like the regalo bar, a shop, in which you can not buy anything, you just can receive a donation or you can donate something to others. It was quite a challenge for latin souls to use this opportunity.
Part of the color garden is a vegetable garden with a lot of young fruit trees. As an addition we are involved in beekeeping in the province of Castellon. This project address the actual situation of bees between industrial agriculture, micro-economical views on nature and sustainable needs for human habitats.
In a relation to the MLU Halle (Martin Luther University) we hosted from time to time biology students in the guesthouse. As part of one exhibition about social art we showed an smal scale aquaponic installation.
Magda from a little village near Bucharest was sitting on the terrasse of CASAdelDRAGON and said with tears in her eyes: “I want that my Children will see what i see now!” We where thinking the same 3 years before and we invited the first kids from Romania to visit the region of Maestrazgo, the land of the templer and deeply connected to the european history. In the following years we had several groups visiting and partizipating in our social art projects and we will continue this in 2020 and further on.
In our german home unit we established the “room for art” in the basement of one house. We invited people with interest in social art and contemporary education for a one day workshop to paint together. By transforming passive visitors to active creators of their environment we sculptured their brains, following Beuys and his idea of social sculpturing.
This Hand belongs to a great person. Her name is Fadella. She was coming from Bahrein to study our community life and she gave us a very deep impact in the arabic spanish european history. Her finger points on a handmade ancient nail, laying on a stone which is part of a roman trade path (which is part of our color garden).
The hosue of the dragon is an open house. A lot of times we are sitting together and share the Food whioch guests and Friends and visitors. These events are not intensivly organised and prepared and they appear more spontaniosly – but exactly this delives a flair, with is great and special.
Our close friend Anne is runing a severgardens project in south France. Part of this UNESCO featured project is to explore, develop and share knowledge about natural pigments and dye techniques and ways to produce natural colors for artistic purpose (which is also part of our activities in the color garden in spain). We spend a very cold and long day in France to connect locals with organic products and techniques and developed some connections for the project of Anne.
Following an invitation we gave some lectures in Germany for students of Biology. Partizipative strategies and methods of social art projects for science and classical education might re-design the thinking of former education.
In the educative space of Cecile – permaculture Penyaflor – near Tortosa we invited the guests to paint with us, reflecting the theme L.O.V.E. Later these art works became part of an exhibition under the title AMAL.
In Romania we organised a workshop about leadership. A group of children, teachers, government officials and social workers was involved to create a game about leading a summercamp for youth. The game will be published as part of another social art project ARTSURPRISE. It will be a tool to train youth in social leadership.
The missing link is another social art project in which we connect social spaces like Ceciles Permaculture Penyaflor, EcoTros or others. Quo vadis – the question for all of us and especially for social entrepreneurs like Cecile.
German students are buildung a rocket stove in the color garden. They are highly motivated by creating the foundation of something useful for the lunch of the next day (and the next day was really the next day!).
In another open social space, the masia from Francesc, a friend living close to Gerona, was th stage for one art performance in the night. We created some light sculptures in the dark and enjoyed a conversation about art and relevance and sustainability of contemporary art.
To transform a passive event of a lunch into an active partizipation of the guests we invited some creatives in the color garden to prepare and enjoy local food and experimental cooking.
Learning something is in our opinion a personal process embedded into a social environment in which the person is free to discover and receive what (s)he is Looking for. Therefor the job of a contemporary living community with the goal of establishing a social space for informal learning and personal happiness is to create this space, to maintain it and to protect it.
Tine gave a workshop about awareness and meditation. The workshop was part of the educative activities of our free University (UNIIE). This underline, that we see our task more in enableling the space for informal learning than to just offer workshops.
A lot of people have a lot to tell. We want to enable them to do this… and to enjoy it at the same time.
Life brings people to the house of the dragon and they continue their way through their lifes. Some of them, as the nordic nod mosaic in the kitchen of the CASAdelDRAGON reflects, find back later and enjoy another time what they created and what others created in between.
If you have been reading this article till now – something we appreaciate a lot – you might belong to a group of people who really want to go deep into something. If you cross all These pieces of Information and ask yourself where is the red line in all of this, it is the power and success of partizipative art and ist influence on contemporary education. We are not aware about the outcome but we feel to be part of a wider movement of a lot of creative people all over the world. And even if we do not know if we will reach the goal, we are happy on the way.
In the last days of 2019 we finished the healing snake in the house of the dragon in Spain. The missing link in the construction between the second and first floor was, together with the final skin (trencadis), the last big task (how it started here…).
The snake contains a little bottle. It is a kind of postbox for wishes. Every visitor in CASAdelDRAGON who remember this secret feature can receive a message from an former visitor and (s)he could place another new message for the next.
Everybody who will pass this snake on the way to the Terrasse or living room will pass this special postbox. We will see how it will be used by the guests.
Most of the ceramic tails are collected of the last 35 years. The mix of colors and pieces represents also the creative history of ceramic mosaics in the house and around and on the color garden of our artist residence. Like a quotation to all this works some pieces also found their way to be part of the skin of this snake.
Also there are some blue ceramics from Penyflor, a donation from Cecile, running a permaculture garden near Tortosa. We see this as a reference to a lot of alternative living community projects and we like this link between these hotspots of new emerging community designs.
Another source of material was realised by left-overs form the family. Ceramics of broken cups and dishes where used as well, like a quotation to Gaudi and his advise to the bricklayers and construction workers to take their broken dishes to build some details of park Guell in Barcelona.
Between 50 and 200 guests are passing the CASAdelDRAGON per year (since 1987) and they all contributed in one or another way to the history of the place. For most of the visitors the place and its temporary inhabitants are a challenge, sometimes a provocation – not in an aggressive way but by questioning fundamentally personal decisions and values brave and strong.
As we know from feedback for most of the visitors it was a positive experience and more and more are returning after years to the place to revisit and to maintain the idea of another form of community life, based on donation without expectation.
The snake will be a silent but visible representation of these very private ways to personal happiness. And on the way, you could receive a message, if you find the secret mailbox.
Beside the artistic project to build a contemporary art museum (MUARCO) in the color garden of CASAdelDRAGON Jo donated his time and knowledge to the vines on the campus of the free University of informal education, which is part of the color garden.
To refresh the vines and bring back vitality for the next season Jo pruned a lot of brunches.
A selection of one year old brunches was packed with a mix of soil and sand in a bucket and placed in a dark corner inside a cellar.
When the wine offshoot will be expelled in the spring the new plants will be used for green walls around the building of the museum MUARCO.
To keep on growing vine in the area of Cervera del Maestre is connected to an very old local tradition of winemaking. Back in the year of 1987 we where able to buy 25 years old white wine in the wine cooperative in Sant Mateo. A few years later they closed the business because they harvested not enough grapes.
Old people told us a story about a local weather phenomenon: “There are 50 years more and more dry, followed by 50 years more and more wet.” In 1987 we started to rebuild the house of the dragon at the peek of “dry” and in the last years we arrived in the time of more and more rain. In 2018 we had two times flooding in the dry river in one month (October). In the dry period before 2000 we had summers in which it was prohibited to use water for construction.
The vines where moving to the mountains before 2012 and now – slowly they are returning to the lower part of “El Maestrazgo”.
Jo’s investment in keeping the old vines alive will give food to new generations of visitors in the color garden of the CASAdelDRAGON. This donation is giving with respect to the value of nature, without expectation, and by highlighting old traditions of farming.
Winemakers are thinking beyond their own lifetimes. They harvest what the grandfather was planting and they plant for their grand children.
Jo Pellenz, artist and former winemaker
Like the garden of Epikur the color garden is a social space. Sometimes people meet each other because they share the same moment in time at the same place, a lot of times the guests in Epikurs garden are just surrounded by the work of former contributors like Jo, and walk on top of a foundation, laid out by others years ago.
In late 2019 we get a donation from Cecile (Permacultura Penyaflor). The old chicken tractor was used before in the region near Tortosa. Treated by wind, sun and rain it was still in good condition but we decided to refurbish the structure before we would set up a new clan of chicken in the color garden.
We cleaned the structure and we started to unmount all the damaged or broken parts.
We replaced the old main door. We redesigned also the entrance by using a fixed and a movable part.
Also we created a box with two nests for the chicken. In the middle we placed a higher wall to give a little bit of privacy while nesting.
We created a new ramp to the ground connected to the main entrance. The ramp is connected to a chain. Therefor we can move it up and down without entering the structure.
We placed a seat bar in the left part of the little stable. Chicken like to sit on a wooden branch and its better for cleaning and health if they are placed not on the ground.
To keep the temperature in the nights we created a stable door. A stick based on a piece of an antenna (right side in the photo) keep the door closed, even with strong winds.
To have a look what’s happening inside without disturbing the chicken we placed a window in the wooden wall.
The main structure was given, but by changing some details we are sure to optimize the daily handling (wheels are still on the list). In general a chicken tractor has an advantage for the animal health. By moving the structure the chicken are not exposed all the time to their feces (wee and poo).
Trimming the green might be another advantage on top.
The refurbished home will host some araucana, a special chicken typ. After very positive experience in the last years in our German home unit we appreciate their character and strength also in our color garden in Spain.
Thanks to Cecile for the tractor and thanks to Francesca for the new guests in the color garden…
If you visit the art camp, which is part of the colorgarden of the CASAdelDRAGON in Cervera del Maestre (Castellon) you might have a look at the amazing sculpture realized by Nora Valdez. You might also think about the meaning of this artwork – Nora decided the title “communication” – and about the background and the circumstances, how this sculpture from an international famous artist arrived in this place.
Here we want to share this story with you. And at the end we will invite you, to be part of a new story…
Whenever humans are trying to motivate themselves they imagine a result or outcome. By visualising your dreams, desires and wishes you make a first big step to realize the work itself. When Nora was clear about her project she invited some wwoofers and friends to join the process of creation. In a first step everybody was writing a message in a bottle.
It was a magic moment. Everybody was surrounded by others but after a short time everybody was in her/his own world thinking an feeling what would be a message to the future, and how to express it.
To work out a bigger art project like this the artist is relaying humans, ressources, time, knowledge and many other things. Entusiastic helpers mixed the concrete for the foundation and later the soil-clay-cal-cement mix for the construction. Like a lot of international art projects in CASAdelDRAGON it was a team of art lovers from Slowenia, France, Hungaria, England, Poland, Spain and Germany who helped Nora to make it happened.
Nora is a real self made artist, comming from drawing she explored her love for carving and sculpturing in Italy in an art symphosium long time ago. Working with a block and exploring the sculpture inside is a mental movement from the big raw outside to the little secret inside. In this project Nora had to take the opposite direction.
CASAdelDRAGON is not funded by public. There are no companies sponsoring the social art projects till now (2019). If an artist choose the art residency he will be part of the friends, visitors and guests and woofers in the house at that time. The artist could use free leftovers and local material, sponsored by the living community FamiliaFeliz. So Nora could use only what was available at that time in the art camp, some bricks, soil, cement, cal and some tools.
It was a big challenge for Nora to figure out a reverse process of adding material to a given piece instead carving away what hide the wanted outcome.
Improvising cheap solutions and using as much as possible organic natural materials or recycling is the common way in the art camp. The soil-cal-cement mix (4:1:1+water) is a very useful material to build the structure and later the shape of the sculpture. Once mixed its usable for hours and can be rewatered again to expand the usable time.
To make it happen – is a process and with gratitude pointing out all the helpers who contributed to this art project it is a form of respect to think about them for a while. People like Nina or Rebekka or Francesca where working behind the scene to prepare the food and to serve the daily needs for all. People like Karsten contributed to our budget to make us able to buy good organic food for all. Even harvesting almonds for tasty cakes to reenergize the team to work on the art project was the amazing outcome of this artistic intervention. And Amanda was cooking and cleaning a lot every day – these are really the hidden champions of this project.
Painted with minerals the sculpture got its final shape.
There are plenty of untold stories about this sculpture done in summer 2019 in the art camp of CASAdelDRAGON. Its up to everybody to reflect and re-think about this time. The house of the dragon is a mysterical place. This location provides magical moments, awareness and peace. And even its peace is unhiding our fear.
Everybody might look at the work from a subjective perspective and will make up the mind with a personal interpretation. Here is not the place for this. Great art does not need so many words. And this is great art.
If you have a look at this artwork you will be able to share the history of its creation with others. A lot of times – if we see something amazing – we would like to be part of the process of creation as an eyewitness or active contributer. Sure its not possible for this one. But as i promised before i will end with my personal invitation to you.
You can be part of a new story, you could join a team of creative international supporters and help the next artist to give life to his dream. Or maybe you are the next artist and you like to create your sculpture embedded in an international community. You are welcome.
Nora Valdez donated this sculpture to the citizens of Cervera del Maestre, the guests of CASAdelDRAGON and the visitors of the art camp and the color garden. She placed her artwork like a message in a bottle. She decided the title Communication. In the name of all who helped and supported this project: Thank you, Nora!
Familiafeliz is engaged in art and alternative gardening. In our vegetable garden and in the color garden with the art camp area we are surrounded by many little and big artworks.
Many people are frightened about artificial intelligence. They dont see that human mankind was giving birth throughout artificial intelligence: we call it nature.
Its a pleasure to stay in such an environment. We believe: “good” art serves the people!
Many of our green friends (gardeners, permaculture activists) have a very special relation to art itself. They often feel strongly that nature and its exprressions in flovers and real bioconstruction is the most beautiful thing on earth. They are right in the sense of this natural source of artificial intelligence. The construction of a leave, the mecanism in a flower, all this is indeed a very beautiful expression of art.
But part of art is the social implication. Art as a human expression is a way to communicate, for the producer in a sillent intimite dialoge, and with the audience in a smart and sometimes very sustainable way.
We think, if a gardener is surrounded by positive expressions of artists, he will harvest later more tasty food for all of us.
Today (2019-12-18) we cleaned the ground under a little fruittree in the vegetable garden. It was a pleasure working in the sun, looking the amazing art around us.
The little mango tree is still alive and we covered the soft ground with some grass. The tree with the number 26 is registered in our database and we added the working session in the activities – log.
We hosted Amanda in 2019 for some weeks as a volunteer. She was very creative in the kitchen and we enjoyed it a lot. Beside the fact that she experienced a lot of different cultures in the past she was highly interested in the concept and reality of our little decentralized living community.
Amanda showed up as as real european citizen. After studies in Denmark she returned to her country but she visited several other countries for post-studies.
Familiafeliz really address free spirits and social entrepreneurs like Amanda to form a new typ of community live by crossing borders mentaly and physically. In the post-BREXIT aera we talk about the free movement of ideas based of free movement of european citizens.
So we say thank you to Amanda and we hope we find some hungarian friends with interest in alternative community live in europe. Copy and share this information with all your (hungarian) friends.
The original version of our charter and all other translations are available here.
In 2007 we inaugurated the first exhibition in the CASAdelDRAGON. Till the last moment we where working on construction. We finshed with a lot of help from friends and with the crew of David Sales – a local construction worker – the building of the gallery and we opened the exhibition in time. After 20 years we inaugurated the first exhibition “Amigos” with some artist friends of the region.
It looks like your mission is to challenge the people. You will not harvest the fruits but you place a lot of seeds.
Alison – artist and permaculture volunter
Nevertheless a lot of work in the house of the dragon was not finished. So we decided to review each year one room of the house. This will take us another 20 years after already 20 years of rebuildung the house. Some rooms where already used for years in the construction period, like the kitchen or the bathroom, some rooms where used but unfinished like the living room in the second floor. In winter 2019 we decided to spend time for the unfinished work of light installation in the staircases and some bedrooms and – as a big and long pending project – some plasterwork in the living room.
As part of this work we decided to place a snake in the open area of the staircase. First it was the idea to found a technical solution to cover a cable for a AC circuit / changeover but on the way it became a passionate art project – as ever.
First we placed some heavy duty dowels in the wall to support the weight of the snake. We calculated 300 to 400 kg including steal, mortar, plaster, glue and ceramics. Then we formed a structure with chicken wire and iron sticks. These iron is part of a donation of David Sales who helped us twelve years before to accomplish the mission of opening the gallery. Everything is linked to everything. Even the body of this snake is a remarkable quotation of the last 35 years of the house of the dragon and assembled with some historical construction material.
Later we used mortar to fill the wire and to give the animal a smart shape.
Because of the height in the staircase we had to prepare a working structure to reach all parts. So we separated the construction in two parts, the higher tail and the lower body of the snake with the head.
Overstanding material of the dowels was cutted and plaster gave a smarter shape. We started with a selection of ceramics from stock. This gave us the opportunity to use some old pieces we had as leftovers from the dragon and other sculptures. First we placed some leading colors – like the red – randomly over the skin to harmonize the later expression of the skin.
Working with mosaics is a very relaxing work. After two working sessions we finished the tail in the second floor.
In the first floor we focused the head of the snake. To shape the face we used carton and plaster.
To reduce the amount of material we used also old brick pieces.
After all we growted the tail with white cement and cleaned the ceramics several times. After one week we get a real impression of how it would look later.
The technical decision to use the body of a snake to cover a missing light cable was obvious. But by working on the sculpture we realised the message we recieved by placing this animal just in the staircase between 1st and 2nd floor. In many ancient mythologies the snake is a powerful symbol for fertility and a creative life force. Many of them shed their skins various times and therefor the snake became also a symbol of rebirth, immortality and medicine.
As all progress in construction in the house of the dragon it became an organic growing of an existing art intervention which took place in the same staircase several years ago. Sonia and Juan placed two shadows on the wall, one for each of them.
The rainbow snake of the Aborigines embodies the primordial state of nature in the state of the dreamtime and rules over her equaly life-giving and devouring aspects. So even the snake is leading up to our last guest from australia.
This is part one of the documentation of this artwork. We will continue to work on the project and we will post another part two lateron.