Damas Goyesca of Ronda

Since the inception of the Corrida Goyesca in Ronda’s September fair in 1954, the ladies of Ronda have been the official representatives of the city, and welcoming committee for visiting dignitaries.

The role is exceptionally demanding, not only from the responsibility of the role, but also from the demanding schedule of training, and gown fittings before the build up to the week’s festivities.

So exceptionally popular have been the Dames Goyesca, that in 2009, a bronze statue of a Goyesca lady was inaugurated in Alameda park, directly across from the statue of Pedro Romero, Ronda’s most famous bullfighter.

Every year a president of the Dames Goyesca is chosen, usually she is a woman well respected in Ronda, someone who has earned the affection of the people of Ronda, and who is held up as a model of womanhood for others to emulate.

At the same time, fourteen younger Rondeñas are picked to support the president in her duties, typically the younger Dames Goyesca will be in their teens, and of course chosen for their beauty, as well as their grace.

The Goyesca Ladies

Every year in Ronda several of the town’s ladies are chosen to be the Dames Goyescas, and represent the ladies seen in some of Francisco de Goya’s paintings of bullfighting and pageantry from the late 18th century. Many of Goya’s paintings were in fact commissioned by a tapestry workshop in Madrid, the aim being to print the paintings on fabric.

When Goya painted his portraits of nobility, the fashion of the day was for colourful fabrics, and matching accessories such as shoes, fans, hairpieces etc. The gowns worn by Ronda’s Dames Goyesca are not exact copies of those seen in Goya’s paintings, instead they are designed to reflect the matador designs seen in Goya’s paintings of Pedro Romero, so can be said to be complimentary rather than historically correct.

Some art historians argue Goya’s paintings of the Duchess of Alba are the inspiration for the gowns worn by the Dames Goyesca, and to a lesser extent this might be true, in that many of the simpler gowns worn by the Dames Goyesca are very reminiscent. The more complex designs however have been developed in the 20th century in response to perceived fashions of the 18th century, and as such are even more stunning and beautiful than they would have been.

Each outfit can cost many thousands of Euros, everything is custom made to suit the lady, right down to handmade shoes and lace shawls. In addition, each Goyesca lady usually has another gown for less formal occasions, and perhaps a third for specific medal ceremonies.

Pedro Romero Feria Parade 2009

The Pedro Romero Feria in Ronda is the biggest carnival event in Ronda’s social calendar, a week of partying, of live shows, of fairground rides and attractions, and of course culminating in the Corrida Goyesca, the only bullfight to occur in Ronda’s famous Plaza de Toros.

Wednesday the 2nd of September 2009 was a special day, this was the day of the feria parade, a 3 hour extravaganza that departed from Alameda and the Plaza de Toros, and then snaked it’s way up La Bola, onto Avenida de Málaga, before turning down into the fair grounds near the hospital.

Carnival atmosphere reigned in Ronda, well before the parade began balloon sellers were offering large silver balloons in the shape of animals, aeroplanes and other things for 5€, and woe betide any child who let go, the balloon quickly ascended, and reached the heavens, never to be seen again.

2009 was my first year seeing the parade, though I’ve seen other parades in bigger cities in the UK, Germany, the USA, but little Ronda put on a show worthy of the biggest of cities. One can only speculate at the amount of money invested in giving Rondeños such a spectacle, but it was worth it. Despite the gloomy economy, on parade day everyone wore a smile.

Just as the sun set over Ronda the parade reached Avenida de Málaga, a great shout rang around the crowd who had been waiting for an hour or more, and then the first sign that something was happening. The Policia Local quickly cleared the road of balloon and sweet sellers, and leading the parade, a group of riders on horseback, looking resplendent in period costume from the late 18th century.

Corrida Goyesca
It wasn’t long till the great big animals, Tigger the Tiger, and his Disney friends appeared along with 100 children in colourful outfits, then dancers, acrobats, larger than life insects that attacked the crowd, Ronda’s brass bands, and too many other floats to mention.

At last, the moment everyone had been waiting the longest for, the Goyesca Ladies on their float that looked like the Palace of Versaille on wheels, the President atop her thrown, and the other dames waving from balconies below her.

What a parade! Incredible effort must have been expended, and all this in a small town in Southern Spain. 2010 will be a must see parade, and if you have the chance to book a hotel room in anticipation of being in Ronda for the feria, do it now, there is not time to waste.

Mariana Mara Art Exhibition

During the last two weeks of August 2009, Mariana Mara, an expressionist painter, has welcomed Rondeños to an exhibition entitled “Un Momento” in the gallery room of the Casa del Cultura next to the Iglesia de la Merced in Ronda’s Mercadillo district.

Mariana comes across as a fun loving, humerous, intelligent, and passionate person, which is immediately evident on entering her exhibitions. I was greeted to the sound of Elvis Presley coming from Mariana’s laptop, and the frequent outburst of frustration as something didn’t work on her computer.

This sets the scene quite nicely for Mariana’s paintings which are at once bold and filled with colour, subtle with many layers to be sampled, and of course none is to be taken too seriously, all of Mariana’s paintings are to be enjoyed simply because they exist, and for no other reason.

Too many artists strive for perfection in a piece, the perfect stroke, a complicated meaning, but Mariana starts with an idea that is fairly easy to understand, and then proceeds to add layer after layer until she is happy with the finished piece.

I particularly loved her piece entitled “La Marsellesa”, a whimsical look at the world of opera. Painted on wood, the bottom third is painted over letterhead from the Madrid Opera company, and on each sheet of paper one can see a sketch of a lady wearing an opera gown. Over the entire canvas Mariana has painted in delicious skin tones and hues of pink, the face of we suppose a famous opera singer in her prime.

Other pieces also captivate, such as the scenes of the Puente Nuevo in Ronda. Again, Mariana has taken a simple concept, the connection with Bizet’s opera Carmen, and the ubiquitous view of Ronda, the new bridge as seen from the lower gorge. In bold and strong colours, Mariana has overlayed her work on the musical score for Carmen, though this isn’t immediately obvious when looking at the score since it is the French and English version.

My favourite piece in the exhibition though had to be Mariana’s scenes of the sky captured in a variety of different moods. These were perhaps a reflection of Mariana’s true depth of soul, I got the sense Mariana paints moods to escape the meaning and humour she often works with, that her mood paintings represent Mariana relaxing, or venting some frustration, and oddly these simpler pieces let us get to know Mariana better.

Of course we all have our favourites, and in conversations with Mariana she explained that her favourite pieces were those that allowed her to experiement with different media, or allow her naturally witty charm to escape and take on their own life.

A fantastic exhibition though, and well worth half an hour to appreciate Mariana’s work, but leave enough time to chat as well, since her art really comes to life when Mariana is given the chance to express her love of art, and philosophy, the theatre, and of course, life itself.

Ronda Today is pleased to host a virtual gallery of Mariana Mara, which includes every piece exhibited in Ronda.

Chico Andrades, Raices de Ronda Wood Sculpting

Chico Andrades was born and raised a Rondeño, and remembers being fascinated with comics as a boy, a fascination that has led to him becoming one of the Serranía’s top wood carvers.

With Ricardo Dávila, Chico began his training in 2004 in Parauta, at a traditional carving school which has sadly closed down since. It was here Chico first began to appreciate the intricacies of carving in wood and stone, and here he discovered his talent for producing pieces with caricatures.

After finishing his training Chico joined together with Ricardo Dávila, and Diego Guerrero to form Grupo Algorma, a small collective that produced sculptures from discarded materials sourced in the Genal Valley. As part of this small group Chico successfully exhibited and arranged sculpting events, and becoming well known in Ronda and further afield.

These days Chico can be found in his workshop, Raices de Ronda, situated next door to the Mondragón Palace in Ronda. Visitors to the workshop will often find Chico carving his signature cartoon characters into olive tree roots just inside the entrance. Before entering the shop Chico invites you to spend a few minutes watching him as he sculpts, he believes this helps customers understand how the characters are born.

Taking inspiration from his love of childhood comics, Chico rarely spends too much time analysing the timber to be worked, instead allowing the character already in the wood to guide Chico’s chisel. In so doing Chico guarantees each piece is completely unique, it is actually impossible to ever create a copy of any piece since the wood is so different from one piece to the next.

Raices de Ronda

Talla y Escultura sobre raices de Olivo
Chico Andrades nace en Ronda (Malaga) en el año 1968, inicia su formación artística en el año 2004 de la mano del escultor Ricardo Dávila, en la ya desaparecida escuela de talla de Parauta. Allí descubre el mundo de la escultura en madera y piedra.

Más tarde forma parte del colectivo artístico Grupo Algorma (Ricardo Dávila, Chico Andrades y Diego Guerrero) con los que realiza esculturas de gran tamaño utilizando los desechos naturales del Valle del Genal (castaños quemados). Participa con el Grupo Algorma en varias exposiciones y eventos.

En la actualidad tiene su propia tienda en la parte antigua de Ronda, concrétamente en la plaza Mondragón frente al museo de Ronda. Allí talla, expone y vende su trabajo directamente al público.

Trabaja las raices de olivo de forma directa, inspirandose en las formas naturales que va encontrando y respetando siempre el trabajo de la naturaleza.

Amante del comic y la caricatura, nunca dibuja, mide o traza, no tiene en cuenta proporciones alguna y hulle totalmente de la simetría. Simplemente ataca las raices directamente, buscando los personajes que se encuentran en su interior, dando como resultado obras que nunca se repiten.

Contact Chico Andrades at Raices de Ronda

Chico can be contacted for private commissions.

Address: Plaza Mondragón, 9, Ronda, Malaga 29400
Would you like to purchase one of Chico’s pieces? Chico has his workshop in the heart of Ronda’s old town, right next door to the Mondragón Palace. Some of Chico’s Raices de Ronda pieces can be bought directly from his website, and shipped all over the world.

Click to send an email to Chico: raicesderonda@raicesderonda.es

Gallery of Chico’s Sculptures

To display larger images, click the thumbnail

Mariana Mara, Artista de Andalucía

A poem from Mariana – Un Momento
Préstame un momento, o mejor, date un momento.
Un momento para la calma, un momento para le tempestad.
Para la complicidad, el miedo, la mística y la pureza.
Un momento para el sentido común, la creatividad, el reencuentro, la tramoya y el desengaño. Para la paz y la esperanza. Y para otros momentos, todos conscientes, todos intensos. Momentos sin pretensiones.
Y ojalá nuestra memoria, solo guarda los buenos momentos.

English Translation
Give me a moment, or better yet, take a moment.
A time for calm, a time for the storm.
For complicity, fear, mystique and purity.
A moment for common sense, creativity, reunion, stage props and disappointment. For peace and hope. And for other times, all aware, all intense. Unpretentious moments.
And hopefully our memories, to remember the good times.

Contact Mariana Mara

Mariana can be contacted for private commissions.

Would you like to purchase one of Mariana’s pieces? Mariana exhibits throughout Spain, so please send Mariana an email for locations and dates of current and future exhibitions. Click to send an email to Mariana: marianamara7@gmail.com

Gallery of Mariana’s Paintings

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