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.
In late 2004 CASAdelDRAGON hosted a special guest. Christine from Germany was following an invitation for a short retreat. She arrived and was falling in love directly with trencadis, making mosaics out of broken ceramic pieces.
Some people make things happen. Some people watch things happen. And then there are those who wonder, ‘What the hell just happened?
Carroll Bryant (blogger and writer)
Her wish was, to connect herself to the location and to find a very personal contribution to our social art project. After helping in other construction she found her place, a hole in the wall of the living room, formerly a feeding trough for chickens, charged by an old pipe from backwards of the house.
Christine asked if it is ok, if she would put all her power in this project, even if it was not very important for the progress of finishing the bigger construction work in the house. We agreed with pleasure for two reasons. One: the concept of CASAdelDRAGON is to donate and receive donations. If we invite a person under such special personal circumstances we want to give peace and freedom to the guest. Two: we saw in her project a powerful sample of what this house of love (so titled by an artsit friend Rolf Habel) could deliver for its guests.
Christine contributed in daily work like washing dishes and laundry, cooking and cleaning. But every day after the breakfirst she started with her personal project for at least some hours.
Working with ceramic pieces is like a meditation. After one week Christine finished the project, happy and proud and much more relaxed than before.
The altar of Christine is since 2004 part of one wall of the living room in the house of the dragon. Everybody pass this location on the way to the terrasse. Many people are asking for this altar. And again and again its a gold reason to talk about all the helpers and supporters of the social project CASAdelDRAGON.
Christine prepared the altar itself. Later some guests used the space to place souveniers or little gifts. So the space became a comon spiritual place in the house, very personal, for a lot of followers.
Inside of the big social art project CASAdelDRAGON Christane created her own social art project, maybe without an intention for others but in the context of the dragon house finally it became a manifestion of a holy place, to remember the release of love to be able to receive the new one.
So everybody who donated a personal piece as a gift to this place repeated the mental journey of Christine.
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.
In greek mythology Priapus was was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens … and more… We enjoyed the warm summer days in 2019 to clean up the garden of Martas home, our german home unit. Again powerful family members where helping Antje and Corinna to clean the area around the compost pile and the chicken area.
In the history of Familiafeliz the house of the dragon was the first property and project, but the big plot in Germany hosted the first of our gardens. Here we planted the first fruit trees, prepared beds and havested salads and vegetables. Also it was the place to develop the chicken population based on Araucana , Amrock, Brahma, Sussex, Wyanddotte and others.
We developed a brave and healthy population by mixing these variations and preselect new generations of high productive females and strong males.
Even if nowadays most off the garden activity is happening in east spain in the colorgarden, the source of knowledge and joy was coming out of this garden in Germany.
And still the chicken unit in Germany is the oldest social community activity and involve several families (customers of fresh eggs) from the village and around.
If you want to visit Martas Home check out the next german information day on the front page or apply for volunteering here.
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.
Volkmar Schultz – former member of german parliment
Now, more than 30 months after publishing the final draft of the charter of familiafeliz in english we are happy to publish the slovenian version .
We didn’t expected a specific growth of the community at this time, nor we do now. But we where hoping that this document would help us to spread the message of a contemporary alternative living community and its values and goals.
We invited a lot of guests in the last years to have a closer look to the reality of our community. We didn’t overastimated the PROs and we didn’t underastimated the CONs of our living reality. Even by showing the weakness of the community and the limitations of its members we tried to create and to maintain the social space for personal happiness.
Again and again we saw people coming, full of illusions about sustainability and just checking ressources and looking for their own benefits. Even we donated accommodation and food to people, who where not willing to donate this to others.
We maintained this open door to be able to find people to share this contemporary idea of living together in a weak community with powerful members.
We enjoyed a lot of discussions about communty life and social values and even the charter was a lot of times a useful reference for this.
In fact, it works! – After all this time we – the members of familiafeliz – still feel very comfortable with this charter and its implications for our daily life. We have no tendency to change it. Even some very critical comments from visitors made us more sure about its values.
Also we noticed that our way of life is still inspiring for some guests. Especially the international background of these guests motivates us to spread the message of how we could organise people in peace and happiness into the world. Quoting an old friend and politician, it make sense for us to publish now the slovenian version of this charter. Maybe we find some slovenian people interested in international and decentralised communities. So we send this message in the bottle (by using social media).
Very grateful we say thank you to Nina for the translation. With her professional background as a translater for the European Commission and her social skills and her profund questions she opened another door for us to spread the message of a community in which the currency for interaction is donation. As we received Ninas donation of this translation we will donate it to the slovenian community, to people looking for another way of life, with pleasure.