Joya: arte + ecología is a non-profit arts-led field research centre in rural Andalucía, Spain. Our research is manifested through a residency programme for artists, writers and freethinkers, as well as cross-disciplinary collaborations with ecologists and environmental activists. Our own rigorous initiative is to live off-grid and foster deep understanding of the alpine desert, whose transformation serves as an epithet to effects of climate change worldwide.

We are a cultural destination in the heart of rural Spain, living at 1000m above sea level in the Parque Natural Sierra María – Los Vélez. This is a place of outstanding natural beauty and remains so despite the environmental challenges facing peoples’ way of life. Climate change, bringing increased aridity and violent weather patterns, combined with outmoded farming techniques causing the loss of soil quality, stand in stark contrast to the co-evolutive and sustainable subsistence farming of just forty years ago.

Joya: arte + ecología is developing a transferable and combined strategy of research driven innovation, restoration and conservation of land. We utilise contemporary art and thinking as a means to express, interpret and disseminate the ideas we are generating. We have created an environment where artists are able to explore the ‘non-tangible asset’ that is life in all its diversity, life that has the inviolable right to exist as anything other than for the material gain of mankind. Contemporary art expresses the nuance attributed to a deep understanding of a sense of place, and it provides the insight into nature that the majority of us find convenient to ignore.

Over the last ten years we have had in excess of four hundred and fifty artists both from within Europe and as far afield as Australia, Japan, Canada and South America.

Who We Are

Simon Beckmann is co-founder and director of Joya: arte + ecología. He is a researcher, activist, artist, designer and ecologist. He grew up in the small industrial town of Glossop in Derbyshire, on the edge of the Peak District National Park in England. He studied at Manchester Polytechnic, received his MFA at The Royal Academy in London, and also became a fellow in Milan. Simon lectures throughout Europe, and continues his own practice through the Joya: arte + ecología programme.

Donna Beckmann is co-founder and director of Joya: arte + ecología. Donna grew up on a fruit farm in the south east of England. She studied Illustration at Bristol School of Art, specialising in food and travel. These interests led her to New Zealand, Australia and south east Asia before settling in India for two years exploring and painting the diverse recipes and food culture of the continent. She now creates info graphic diagrams and grids depicting contour strip cropping, water resources, forgeable food, aromatics and local recipes. She is deeply connected to local, seasonal, sustainable and slow food.

Annika Berry joined Joya: arte + ecología from the US, where she recently completed a BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design. She has worked as an archivist, writing tutor, artist and fabrication assistant, as well as for various arts non-profits. She grew up in Portland, Oregon in a family of writers, cooks and eaters. Seduced—yet sceptical—of the American Cowboy mythology, artistic research practice references the icon as a lens to critique social, cultural, personal and political desires. She hopes to travel to the Tabernas Desert in Andalucia where Sergio Leone shot his famous Spaghetti Westerns.

Margherita Rossi joined Joya: arte + ecología from London, to work as Project Developer. Margherita grew up in the art world between Venice and Munich, Vicenza and the mountains of South Tyrol. She completed an undergraduate degree in the Economics of Art at the Univeristà Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano. She later worked as a researcher at Sotheby’s in London, and as an organization member at Hauser & Wirth. Most recently, she gained a Post Graduate Diploma in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute.

Cortijada Los Gázquez

Cortijada Los Gázquez (home of Joya: arte + ecología) is a set of old farm houses located in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez in Almería, Spain. It is “off-grid,” independent of the electric, water, and waste networks that connect most modern homes and buildings.

The Beckmann’s bought the property in 2006, and have since restored it. The house itself is designed to focus on sustainable living, using both passive and active systems. The passive systems incorporated into the house include grey and black water water reclamation, rainwater harvesting, and biomass fuel taken from the surrounding land.

Waste Water Systems:

The grey water system collects from basins, showers, and the dishwasher, and with the aid of eco-friendly detergents, transports the water through a series of channels to a reed bed of Arundo donax (used for structural purposes), as well as to irrigate of an olive grove.

The black water system consists of two alternating aerobic vertical flow reed beds and one anaerobic horizontal flow bed. Bacteria is digested in the vertical flow reed beds by Phragmites australis. In the horizontal reed bed, amoebas and other protozoans digest bacteria. At the end of the process, the water is 98% clean and is used for irrigation.

Rainwater Harvesting:

The rainwater harvesting system collects water from the roof during summer weather events or winter snow and transports it via acequias (canals), to the aljibe, an underground deposit. During one summer rainfall weather event, the system can collect up to 50,000 litres of water.

Heat & Electricity:

Heating, of both water and the house, is also achieved ecologically, via 24 vacuum tube hot water solar collectors as well as bio-mass wood boilers for underfloor central heating and the kitchen range. Los Gázquez is powered by a 48v electrical system that employs both a 6 x 160 watt photo voltaic panel with a tracking system to follow the sun as well as a 3000 watt wind turbine at 12 meters high. The tandem active systems were chosen because of the specific weather conditions of the region. High winds and more than 3100 hours of sunlight/year allow the panel and turbine to power the entire building without any additional energy.



Double Self Split, an exhibition by NYC artist Melissa Marks, curated by Joya: arte + ecología. Double Self Split bridged place and history, the Castillo de Vélez-Blanco in conversation for the first time with the Metropolitan Museum in New York

Art for the Environment International Artist in Residency Programme Award, Launched by University of the Arts London, Chair of Art and the Environment: Lucy Orta, in conjunction with Joya: arte + ecología, Spain; Fondazione Zegna, Italy; The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK; Mildred’s Lane, Beach Lake, USA; and The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester, UK

Dew Catchers, in collaboration with Anna Macleod


Launch of Los Gázquez: a land ecology generator research project, developed with Enrique Doblas Miranda (scientific coordinator with CREAF The Centre for Forest Ecology Research and Applications and the MENFRI network) and José María Civantos (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Coordinator of the MEMOLA project).

Address to the 16th Conference of Conservation in Contemporary Art at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte, Reina Sofía, Madrid.

Encuentro de Arte y Ecología #2 at Cortijada Los Gázquez. Contributors: Lucia Loren – artist Spain, Anna Macleod – artist Ireland, Daniel Conde Villa – Ecologistas en Acción Spain, Aletta de Jong – artist Holland, José Domingo Lentisco – historian Spain, Encarnacíon Navarro – archeologist Spain, Dietmar Roth – Commonland Foundation Spain, Bureau of Linguistical Reality • Heidi Quante and Alicia Escott – artists USA, Andrew Welch – artist/explorer/programmer UK, Ruben Briongos – artist/beekeeper Spain, José María Martín Civantos – Coordinator of the MEMOLA Project Spain, Lorena Álvarez – artist/musician Spain, Sandra Moreno Cadena – Peasants’ Rights Coordinator at SOC-LVC Spain, Paola Requena Toulouse and Victor Bravo – classical guitar recital. Spain


Publication of La Revista Vélezana

The New World Art Prize, recipient Ian Andrews. Awarded two-month residency at Joya: AiR

Encuentro de Arte y Ecología #1 at Cortijada Los Gázquez. Contributors: Simon Beckmann, Dr. Enrique Doblas-Miranda – biologist Spain, Yamandú Canosa – artist Uruguay, Alfonso Chico de Guzman – farmer Spain, Dr. Brian Beckers – landscape archeologist Germany, Luce Choules – artist UK, Elisabeth Jackson – artist UK, Andrew Welch – artist-explorer UK, University of Granada, Facultad de Bellas Artes:  María Cano, Hiba Merhi, David Pérez, Marco Ranieri, Sigrid Holmwood – artist UK, Anna Macleod – Irish artist, Alicia García-Andrés González – conservator Spain, Andrés Fajardo Sánchez – Spain, Carol Hummel – artist USA, Paola Requena Toulouse and Victor Bravo – musicians Spain


Conference ‘Artists Mobility and Residency Programmes – Opportunities and Challenges’, organised by Art Motile at the Contemporary Art Museum of A Coruña (MAC), in Galicia, Spain

Joya: arte + ecología award; TOMA! Recipient Anna Macleod

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) London. ‘Sistemas Efímeros’ presentation by Simon Beckmann

Ecoarttech performance Indeterminate Hikes + Hondakin Festival at Alhóndiga, Bilbao

Ecoarttech performance Indeterminate Hikes + CAC Málaga


Simon Beckmann at the Granada Millenium Biennale with The Unseen Exists and Has Qualities

Joya: arte + ecología award ‘Aguazero’

Joya: arte + ecología award ‘Luz: light reactions’


Suntrap, installation at Los Gázquez by NYC artist Melissa Marks

Visiting Institutions

Universitad de Granada – Facultad de Bellas Artes, Spain

Goldsmiths University  MFA, UK

Camberwell School of Art, UK

Chelsea School of Art, UK

Central St Martins School of Art, UK

Wimbledon School of Art, UK

Aberystwyth School of Art, UK

Bucks New University, UK

Manchester Metropolitan University School of Art, UK

The Slade School of Arts UK

St Ives School of Painting, UK

Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Earth Sciences, Germany