I paint, see the black lines of the artist Nora Valdez. Dark figures. Menacing guardians of ambition guard unknown fears. Strong forces are in front of me.
Rolf Habel, artist, social worker, musician, friend
In early 2020 CASAdelDRAGON invited the German artist and musician Rolf Habel for a visit in the artist residence. We enjoyed him the third time in the house of the dragon, as a close eye witness of the progress of our living community.
As all the guests Rolf enjoyed the tasty food in our art camp. It is a pleasure and high value, to be able to harvest fresh salad close to the art camp in our own garden and to prepare it “just-in-time”.
From the beginning Rolf was attracted by some drawings on the walls of showers and dry toilets in the art camp. It was an intervention from Nora, a famous artist from Boston, United States, who created a sculpture nearby.
Rolf started to paint, with a lot of respect for the original drawings on the wall. Like the goal of the art camp itself, it became a flow of creation.
In the last week of his visit Rolf was highly motivated to arrive every morning in the garden area to continue the work. He was feeling exited by having this bigger canvas to work on. For him it was also a return to some memories of his past and a silent dialogue with our social community project and all its implications.
Here, someone wants to assert who is considered to be what. The wood is thirsty and the brushes are hard. Paint residues in cans that have not been opened for a long time. The sun shines and warms me soothingly. The almonds bloom, bees hum.
Rolf Habel, artist, social worker, musician, friend
It is early February and I am Spain, visit my friend Juan. He asked me to bring some color to the impressive but somehow very dark world of drawings – which were applied by the sculptor and famous artist Nora Valdez – to the toilet and shower shed of the ARTCAMP of the CASAdelDRAGON, the artist residence of the living community FamiliaFeliz.
Rolf Habel, artist, social worker, musician, friend
I have a lot of respect for Noras work, which reminds me of lead glazing in churches. Almost something sacred comes from these drawings. I want my colors to shine like colorful glass. I feel myself in their ideas, feel a little like someone who reads in the foreign diary. Changing my colors, bringing light to the narratives.
Rolf Habel, artist, social worker, musician, friend
More and more cheerfulness comes into the strict composition. I reshape the specifications so that it now appears as if the painting has been poured from above on this house. At least that’s what i feel like in the meantime. Waves and waves of happiness are supposed to overwhelm the visitor of the shower. Like the fairy tale “Sterntaler” from the collections of the Brothers Grimm. Be brave, you’re not poor, you may have so little, give everything away, give your last shirt, you will be richly rewarded in this shower of happiness.
Rolf Habel, artist, social worker, musician, friend
All works done by a lot of contributers in the last years, are based on earlier contributions. Like Rolf who was inspired by Noras drawings and sketches on some walls, Nora was inspired by these four buildings in a line (which are symbolically the begining of the art camp itself). These buildings are made by people like Clara and others, to welcome guests from all over the world. They are places in a plot, which was sponsered mostly by an german artist Edgar and his wife Angela.
Rolf suggested, that a next generation of creatives arriving to the art camp, should be motivated to continue this intervention.
All this reminds to another older art projects, a joint venture in art, as part of artsurprise, another social sculpture. Nora was part of a group of 10 artists from latin america. Each artists participated with 10 little artworks and 10 european artists “answered” by adding their artworks as well in this edition.
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.
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.
In November 2017 Viane was facing some new challenges. After preparing a part of the working bench in our open kitchen near the vegetable garden she focused a grew wall. This wall is part of the kitchen structure and on top of a foundation layed out by Margret, Mariella and others in 2015.
If we realize how many people in the last years where working at this place: its amazing. Some of them had the chance to meet in place, some of them are not aware about the former or following worker. But all their work and contruction is part of the story of CASAdelDRAGON and FamiliaFeliz – and therefor also part of this story.
Viane started to draw a sketch on the wall. Over three days she was looking and thinking and trying to find the right proportion and expression. Finally she get very sure about her design.
The first dragon was showing up in the color garden. But it took more than 12 month to continue the work.
Antje and Corinna started to work from outside to inside. The selection of colors was decided by both of them. As a quotation to the dragon on the wall of the artist residence CASAdelDRAGON they selected also last leftover pieces of its lightful blue color.
The white glue (special product to stick ceramics on walls) is waterbased, usable for some hours and give enough time for relaxed progress.
As a passionate tribute to a big love Juan added the heart in the center in late 2018.
In spring 2019 Antje and Corinna finished the work in a two week session.
The dragon as a positive symbol of power and passion and health will be part of the history of the color garden. This dragon will focus the crystal bullet in the wall, aware about the future of this space.
In early summer the dragon was finished. He is waiting now for the next sessions around him to continue the work on this open kitchen.
We should never underestimate the power of passion, to create an idea, to start, to continue and to finish a joyful project. Even if it takes sometimes years to succeed we should never give up our dreams. What remains until the end: the power of love.
Since 2014 we develop the colorgarden – jardi d’colors / laboratori d’artistas – and bringing water to the plot was ever a challenge and still it is. In the beginning we had only one barril of 200 liters and a little peugeot car and some buckets. Water in the garden was ever a valuable treasure.
By expending the infrastructure with more than 30 raised beds in the vegetable garden and a educative aquaponics project we added step by step ibc tanks to be able to store more water.
Also we started to use a trailer to be able to transport 1000 liter at once. To give the ibc tanks a stable support we used second hand wood pallets.
To support the heavy installation and to prevent the pallet wood from termites we used cement stones as a foundation. This keep the wood dry after rain. We also divided the infrastructure in different segments to reduce water loss by accidents and leaks in the water pipes.
Also we segmented the infrastructure for different usage: art camp, tree watering, open kitchen, vegetable garden.
The ibc tanks are refurbished and primary used in the food industry, mostly for lemon juice transport.
Some visitors are criticizing that the usage of ibc tanks and the transport of water by car and trailer in such little quantities of 1000 liter is not sustainable and not helpful at all. They suggest to harvest rain water or water from our asequia would be much more efficiant. They are right in general but to create a bigger central deposite we need an investment of more than 5000 Euros. We need actually between 50.000 and 100.000 liter of water per year for watering, service (kitchen, shower and sinks) and construction. To compare this: a four-person household requires on average about 164 cubic meters (164.000 liter) of drinking water per year. We welcome between 50 and 200 visitors per year in our community and we have sometimes lunch and dinner for groups up to 60 person in the garden and we are watering the plants as little as possible.
The main decision is still, to start with what we have and what we can support. Instead of waiting for subventions or funds we start and we keep our installation – as much as possible – independent from public water supply and we start with planting fruit trees – which will take years to get a certain amount of fruits. These growing trees willl spread some shadow in the vegetable garden and this will reduce watering, als well as the deep roots of trees will lift huminity in the upper region of the soil.
Re-using local materials, re-use water from sinks, showers and open kitchen and restrained watering of plants will lead us to the best possible solution, which is for sure not the best solution.
As a side effect our restricted water handling is a good sensibilisation for our guests. The 50 kids of a german high school used less than 1000 liter in one week for shower and sink. The installation of 3 dry toilets was supporting this.