If you are an art lover and feel like a day away from Marbella Town over this holiday weekend, you might be interested in visiting the whitewashed mountain village of Gaucín, just under 70 km from Marbella Town, for the second stage of the Art Gaucín Open Studios event (May 27-29).This annual event showcases the work of the thriving community of Spanish and foreign artists that live in Gaucín as they open their studios, homes and gardens to the public to display and sell their work (download information: http://artgaucin.com/open-studios-map/).
Having never been to Gaucín before, when my friends Keris and Cate asked me to join them on a trip to this event last Friday, I readily agreed…
The drive up to Gaucín after you join the A-377 road is breathtakingly beautiful. As we snaked our way upwards to the village that stands some 626 m above sea level, we passed green grassy fields with grazing horses and cattle, carpeted with a mass of multi-coloured spring flowers that spilled over the sides of the road and amid a backdrop of the craggy outcrops and silhouetted mountains of the Ronda mountain range that loomed ever closer, olive groves, wheat fields and hills swathed with trees looking like clumps of giant broccoli florets sprinkled with sage.
About 5 minutes after we had left the village of Casares behind us, we stopped off at the roadside restaurant Venta La Laguna, about 7 km from the Genal river, for a late breakfast. As we sat in the shaded terrace area, the air was impregnated with the scent of river-rich soil, moist grass and fertile farming land. This and the wafts of goat cheese emanating from the farm shop next door, with the sounds of cockerels crowing and hens clucking in the background, somehow made the taste of the local bread with olive oil and pureed tomato we had ordered, all the more rustically delicious.
The village of Gaucín in all its toweringly resplendent whitewashed glory and its maze of narrow steep winding streets, has such a well-preserved and lovingly tended look and feel, that it was akin to stepping into an artist’s interpretation of an idyllic whitewashed village. With the fairy-tale ruins of its Roman/Moorish castle perched on a rocky ridge seemingly standing guard over the village and the sweeping southerly views over the most amazingly diverse natural landscapes that tumble into each other so harmoniously, culminating in the soft blue hazy horizon of the faraway sea, the village of Gaucín is a privileged vantage point from which to feast the eyes and fire the imagination. Having witnessed these views at first hand, I can totally understand its magnetic pull for Gaucín’s established artistic community.
It was an interesting experience to be walk around some of the resident artists´ homes and studios and to be able to meet them in person. Between viewings, we stopped off for lunch at the very reasonably priced Taberna del Zorro – huge helpings and fresh tasty food, which worked out at just over 10 euros a head. After lunch we managed to visit the last of the artists whose works we’d set out to see. My particular favourites were the mosaics of Emma Cornish and the paintings of Stephanie Thomson.
If you don´t get a chance to visit the Art Gaucín Open Studios event this weekend, the fabulous drive through Mother Nature’s inimitable glorious canvas to get to the village, is well worth the drive and makes for a great day out from Marbella Town.
Text and photos: Liz Glazer