In this strange year 2020 I was the months of July and October in La Zarza de Pumareda, a small town in Salamanca with about 150 inhabitants, located in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park. This is where the Duero, the largest river on the Iberian Peninsula, meets Portugal, forming almost a hundred kilometres of deep canyons, whose peculiar topography favours the richness of its vegetation.
La Zarza is the village of my childhood, where part of my family comes from. It’s a small village surrounded by nature where everyone knows each other. When I was a child I used to spend my holidays in La Zarza and I remember a thousand and one bicycle trips with my friends from the group, touring the natural park, admiring waterfalls and viewpoints, bathing in the river or simply watching the birds fly. Days full of hundreds of places to discover.
There I had this year the opportunity to work with, among other materials, the wonderful “stipa gigantea” plant. I collected it in the fields of the natural park. These grasses are commonly called “barceo” and for generations they have always been appreciated for their hardness and flexibility to, for example, make brooms or cover roofs.
When I harvested the spikes, they no longer had any seeds. They had fallen to the ground weeks before. If they had not been collected, the plants would have ended up integrating again into the soil that made them grow, as fertilizer for others in the future. But just because the plant has no seeds doesn’t mean that it is less important to mother earth or that it is a less beautiful plant. In fact, by not containing the seeds, its leaves become so transparent that they let through the sunlight and seem to shine when they move to the sound of the wind.
Well, with the “stipa gigantea” I have designed two pieces. And my challenge was to make these two pieces as different as possible:
One is a bridal headband that is only 30 cm long.
The other is a large temporary art installation. A golden explosion that measured about 2 meters wide and 3 meters high, designed 100% with these wild oats and that turned with the wind. “Dreaming in gold”.
I designed the bridal headband 100% with this wild oat. I adapted the different spikes using only wires and floral ribbon, so that I maintained as much as possible the original shape of each of the stems, without modifying their structure. The spikes are combined with each other to give it the shape of the two-horned crown.
Despite its delicate appearance, the result is a very light headband, with some movement, flexible and at the same time quite high and firm. Resilient to wind. And above all, it provides a great variety of shades when exposed to light, especially sunlight.
In the design of the large installation I was inspired by the work of the artists Wona Bae & Charlie Lawler, from Loose Leaf whom I was lucky enough to assist 3 years ago at the Flora International Flower Festival in Cordoba.
To design this golden palm tree I had the help of two childhood friends from the village of La Zarza de Pumareda: Karol and Pablo. Together we spoke about the adventures and mischief of those days of laughter we spent together, those unforgettable sunsets. And we also got the joy of all the neighbours!
This great ephemeral golden explosion was a welcome party to autumn and a small appetizer for what is to come next year. Next Easter week the “1st Festival la Zarza Florece” will be held in La Zarza de Pumareda, under the artistic direction of the “Floral Collective”, (Javier Racionero , Alejandra Romero and me, Marga Martín )
A tribute to those who were and those who will come:
“We believe in the richness of the people.
We believe in environmental sustainability, the only way to live in the present and also have a future.
We believe in collaborative work. Ideas and debates vital to human evolution are generated in the community.
We believe in the beauty of ephemeral art.
We believe in respect for nature. We work only with biodegradable materials and under the umbrella of the “zero waste” philosophy.
We believe in thinking big. No idea is impossible if the energy is right”.
It will also be a challenge to wait until the spring of next year.
What about you? Would you like to do something similar? Designing two very different pieces with the same material, have you ever done it? Mother Nature is so rich… Tell me about your experience, I can’t wait to hear from you. Or if you want to learn how to do it, you don’t have to wait: Contact me right now.