Treasure of the Lecrin Valley
I sat with Gym Halama at her Sandpit Gallery; a converted stables in the orange groves of Chite:
TSG: You’re a world traveler, you could be living anywhere. Why did you choose Spain?
GH: I came to Spain when I was 20 and fell in love with the lifestyle. I grew up in Chelsea, London, and even though I loved that, I didn’t like the stress of the city.
So here, I live my life the way I want to and I’m surrounded by beauty the whole time, which is really important to me.
I have to see 360 degrees of beauty all the time or else I get uncomfortable. I get physically irritated in depressing environments.
TSG: What are you currently working on?
GH: I’m working on a large canvas for a friend of mine who has a hotel on the coast. I’m enjoying it because I’m trying something new, more complicated than what I normally do.
TSG: Do you start a painting with a preliminary sketch or idea?
GH: Not always. Sometimes I’ll throw paint at the canvas and see what develops. I think it’s the same when you ask a musician how they make a tune; sometimes it’s improvised, and leads to something interesting, or something happens while you’re doing it.
TSG: What is a typical day like for you?
GH: No day is the same. I spend my time running around doing things. Yesterday I had a friend put some marble up top in my shop, while I was moving my displays in the clothing department.
Then I came home and painted till 12:30h last night while I was listening to the Olympic Games (Note: interview carried out in late August and published in the September paper edition). One of my neighbors gave me a sofa that was completely ripped and covered in green and yellow plastic and it had such a great shape; it was real 60’s.
So I had some great fabric and and I took it to the upholsterer and it’s come back looking amazing. That’s the kind of thing I like, when I can see something in an old piece of furniture and bring it back to life.
TSG: In your book [ZigZag] you talk about all the wild adventures you’ve had – travels, jobs, the fascinating people you’ve met, men – but also not knowing where your next job would be or what your future holds. Do you miss that way of life?
GH: No, because I still don’t know what the future holds. My life is a bit more stable now, but I could get called up for a film job next week, or I might go to the market and find something amazing. Every day there’s something happening you don’t expect.
TSG: Do you have a life motto?
GH: Do the best you can. I think It’s the secret of life. I believe in hard work, and as I get older there seems to be even more to do. It’s like I’m racing for time. I don’t want fame or fortune, I just want to be a good painter and feel that’s what I am.
Check out Gym’s art, shop, the Camel Stop, and her Sandpit Gallery at www.gymhalama.com
(Feature/Interview: Gym Halama, Artist by Bridget Rose O’Haire)