In a week when The United Kingdom decided that it wanted to change its name to Little England (last of the politics I promise) I was whisked away to Spain. Sun, sand, sangria, seafood and of course... markets!
I have found recently that every small town, city or country I visit that I just HAVE to make a trip to a market. It doesn't matter if it's a farmers market, artisan market or a food market, I have just developed a love affair. My trip to Javea was no different.
Along the busy evening shoreline was a market that had everything you could imagine and more. Handmade jewellery, naff key rings, leather purses and as always those really collectable fridge magnets that seem to be weighing down my fridge door at the moment.
My favourite items for sale were handmade by a local who goes by the name of José. He makes, whilst sat at his stall, beautiful clay creatures. Geckos, hedgehogs, frogs, sharks and anything else you could possibly shape with your hands. I spotted him earlier on in the week and was fixed onto his hands as he manipulated the clay to make the smooth shell of his new creature look as if it was caught frozen in the headlights.
After starring at him long enough, I thought I better introduce myself before I started to look too creepy. I explained what I do and that I sell at a market in London. He was instantly interested in my practise and went on to describe a few people that he knew from the area that had once upon a time used local woods to carve figures not too dissimilar to what he was making out of clay. He went on to mention that they were no longer making these things because there was just no demand for it any more.
He had been making everything clay based from plates and bowls to these figures from over 20 years and had noticed over this time that the Brits were the ones who were most interested in hand craft items. It is Brits that he claims has the most interest in buying things that have taken time and a slow process to achieve something.
We spoke about our techniques and the process we go through to make to items. There is something about speaking to another craftsman that, even if you aren't using the same materials or even have to same language, that you can communicate and learn about what it is this person is bringing to the world.
He was an incredibly interesting man who was clearly passionate about his craft and would do anything to keep the passion for ceramics alive in Javea some way or another. I had to ask myself though, would I love these things as much as I seem to, if I hadn't spoke to José or seen him making. The answer is probably no, but with most things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I love these little things.
Naturally, I had to buy something to remember this man and our conversation so a beautifully coloured and glazed gecko was purchased and I was treated to a smaller sister to keep each other company. This will have prized place next to all my other hand made items that I seem to be collecting.
'We are keeping the handmade flame alive' he said and we parted ways. Thank you Jose, I have something special to remember this monumental time in our history. Let's hope this isn't the end of our international relationship, and only the start of our beautiful handmade way of life.