The Malaga effect has reached Cómpeta
John Deverell and his partner Lisa Hurt-Jones firmly believe that this is the right time to shout about what Malaga province can do artistically.
The couple have just opened the Galería Centro in Cómpeta and say that the evolution of Malaga city as a cultural hub now needs to be extended to its towns and villages.
“Malaga has become a catalyst for art and now it’s brewing in the hills - there are new galleries cropping up everywhere,” they say. John and Lisa’s new project, Galería Centro, is no exception.
Galería Centro first opened its doors during this year’s Cómpeta Artwalk, which took place over the Easter weekend.
The official opening, however was on 23 April and John and Lisa say that since then they have received visitors every day that they have been open.
“Mainly our visitors are expats that live here or walking groups that are passing through the town, but more and more Spanish locals are also dropping in, as word gets out about us.”
They have also made a few sales in the short time the place has been open and John estimates that during the Artwalk up to 700 people walked through the doors, a few of whom also bought some of the works on display.
The gallery is located in an old house in the centre of Cómpeta, a stone’s throw from the church and main square, Plaza Almijara. John and Lisa say that before the gallery opened, the building had been left empty for some time, having been a bed a breakfast many years before.
Locals apparently remember the place as being “dark and damp” and the couple say that many people who remember the bed and breakfast can’t believe the transformation that has taken place, “we have had nothing but positive feedback on what we have managed to do with the ground floor, which is where the gallery is,” says John.
Both Lisa and John have a background in the travel and tourism industry and have travelled extensively. However, they say that art has also been very important to them and a big part of their lives.
Although they say they are not artists themselves, they describe themselves as “very creative”. Lisa is a photographer and John owns the framing shop in Cómpeta.
Lisa first visited Cómpeta 26 years ago and remembers that there was already an art scene there. When she returned to live there 10 years ago she saw that that artistic vibe was still very much alive and well and had become bigger and even more vibrant in the intervening years.
The gallery, they say, is “a dream come true”, and they add that have always wanted to become more involved in the art world; “Now that we have come to the end of our careers we decided to go for it,” they say.
The idea to open a galley in Cómpeta really came about when they were temporarily in charge of another gallery in the popular hillside town.
John and Lisa say that the experience opened their eyes to the number of artists living in and around Cómpeta and at the same time the lack of opportunities for them to display their art.
The other galley, they say, is too small to provide exhibition space for the growing number of painters and sculptors attracted to the area and the only time during the year that the picturesque town has to show off its creativity is during the annual Artwalk, “there are some extremely talented artists here but they had nowhere to show their work, apart from at the annual Artwalk.
“We felt they needed more exposure,” comments Lisa.
Since opening in April, the gallery has been home to its launch exhibition, which features foreign artists, from as far afield as the Philippines, who all now live in or near Cómpeta.
On 15 June the gallery will launch its second exhibition, featuring local photographers.
The couple are already working on forthcoming exhibitions and say that they have had interest not only from artists based in the local area, but also from a number of European countries, including Germany, Norway and Sweden.
John and Lisa believe that the local councils need to get on board with galleries such as theirs and recognise the “enormous opportunity” that the explosion in art and culture in Malaga city in recent years has had on cultural tourism in the rest of the province.
They are beginning to make contact with authorities in the area and say that the response has been encouraging so far. However, with the recent resignation of Cómpeta’s long-standing mayor, José Luis Torres, they appreciate that immediate local engagement may not be possible.
Despite the local political situation, the couple are enjoying huge success and word-of-mouth is working well at the moment.
The website is almost complete and the gallery can also be found on Facebook.
Lisa says that once she and John have established the Cómpeta gallery, her next dream to fulfil would be to open a sister gallery near Carcasonne, in the French Pyrenees, where she also owns a property. Although she admits that particular plan “is probably a long way off”.
Galería Centro, inCalle San Antonio, is currently open from Monday to Saturday, 11am until 2pm. It will also open in the evenings from the beginning of June.source surinenglish