FIAM, football and San Juan: a busy weekend in Marbella

As most of you will already be aware, last Saturday was Noche de San Juan, a 400-year-old tradition involving beach bonfires, fireworks, casual nudity and all-night partying. The ritual sees beach-goers burning their wishes for the next year, jumping over bonfires and walking into the sea backwards naked (to cleanse your sins… obviously), and afterwards, in typical Spanish fashion, a beach party-till-dawn ensues.

(Very) slightly fewer people perhaps will realise that this weekend hosted the quarter finals of the European Football Championships, which saw Spain beat France 2-0, (Xabi Alonso´s 99th and 100th goals for his country) and England devastatingly fall to Italy, after a penalty shoot-out and an excruciating 124 minute goal-less match. So now, as with the 2010 World Cup, I have declared myself officially Spanish for the remainder of the competition, especially in view of Spain's victory against Portugal, taking La Fuerza Roja to yet another major competition final against Italy.
Considerably fewer people will realise that this weekend also hosted the fourth annual International Festival of Art (FIAM) in Marbella. FIAM is one of Marbella’s most popular and dynamic cultural events, showcasing the vast and varied talents of 80 artists of approximately 25 nationalities, including Spanish, German, Danish, Norwegian, British, Finnish, Ukrainian and Cuban. Artistic techniques included figurative and abstract painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, murals, volumetric art, lithographs, collage, pencil drawing, graffiti, digital and textile art. The three-day event also saw a variety of enjoyable but slightly misplaced entertainments including musicians, dancers and dramatic performances.

The event kicked off with an inauguration event on Thursday evening - artists opened their caseta-esque tents on the Avenida del Mar in Marbella to allow guests to admire, critique and purchase their works, fuelled by a selection of nibbles and drinks. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the event was open from midday until 11:30pm for viewings and entertainments to continue. Covering the event was Talk Radio Europe, who conducted a series of interviews with various artists throughout the weekend. However, luckily for me one of the exhibiting artists was none other than my mum: Fiona Shackleton-King, so I got to experience the event as an exhibitor, as press and as a viewer - the best of all the angles.

I was able to talk to the artists about their experiences of the event, both past and present, and their art, in different forms, styles and varieties. Alma de Sol, nom de plume of Anja, a German artist living in Marbella with her husband Carlos, is a figurative and surrealist artist favouring oil paintings. Anja´s works reflect her lifestyle and are usually taken from photos she has taken showing day-to-day life. They are vibrant, colourful and intricate pieces that capture elements of both Anja´s bright personality and the thrilling yet relaxing Mediterranean lifestyle. This year was not Anja´s first experience of the Art Festival, and it was clear she was pleased to be back; she was considerably more pleased when Germany also made it into the European Cup semi-finals, beating Greece 4-1 (poor Greece!).
Alma de Sol shared a caseta (tent) with malagueña Carmen Aros. Carmen spent time living and studying in England, but now lives in Velez-Malaga, near Nerja. Carmen grew up in Patagonia, which definitely shows through in her work; the vivid colours scream out her Chilean roots. Carmen´s work is abstract, with fluorescent and multicoloured shapes, framed perfectly and beautifully by her husband Peter; the frame becomes an integral part of the artwork. This was Carmen´s first appearance at FIAM and she was very pleased to sell two paintings; although, like all great artists, she was also sad to part with them.

Across the fountain from us - the fountain which, due to the heat, Hipano-Russian artist Yull Hanchas spent the better part of Saturday afternoon soaking in - was Siân Kirkby (not Kirby as the programme would have you believe). Siân works are mostly in oils and pastels and combine the faces and figures of women with natural elements, in strong and eclectic colours. Siân is one of the few artists to have studied art, at Gwent University in the UK; she completed a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts, and her work is displayed in Australia, Canada, Spain and the UK. I shared cherries and sangria with Siân on Sunday night, as she told me about her desire to learn more Spanish and her recent interview with Sur in English newspaper.
Of course I have to mention FSKDesigns; nom de plume of Fiona Shackleton-King, based in Cheshire and France. Fiona (aka my mum) comes from a very artistic family (very little of which has passed on to me, I might add) but took on an entirely different style to the portraits and landscapes of her parents. Instead, she followed the route of contemporary expressionism and abstract art, using a mixture of paint, pastels, inks and textiles to recreate and redesign photographic images captured on holidays or in daily life. Some of her work is inspired by family holidays to the French Alps, Venice or my sister’s conservation work in Iceland, and others from local landscapes and scenery. This was Fiona´s first exhibition in Spain (she has had others in England and France) and I am pleased to say she hopes to come back again next year, when hopefully she won´t be deserted by family members to watch football matches or go leaping over barbecues on the beach.
It´s obvious that art is in my blood, so it´s no wonder I had such a great weekend at FIAM 2012, seeing multicultural and international art in all its possible forms and media. This event was made even more enjoyable by good company and meeting new people, and of course, dashing to and from our new favourite bodega, hidden in the side streets off Avenida del Mar (who kindly donated the use of their “facilities” for the weekend), with half-time scores of the football, all added to the experience. The only thing that could have improved it would have been an England win... maybe World Cup 2014? But for now ¡Vamos España!
Blog published on 28 June 2012