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Mollie Kash modelling one of her handbags outside the kiosk. SUR
Breathing creative life into an old kiosk in the Axarquía
In the frame

Breathing creative life into an old kiosk in the Axarquía

Mollie Kash was a welder and sculptor in Buffalo, NY, before moving to Cútar with her husband where they create and sell their artwork

Jennie Rhodes

Cútar

Thursday, 28 March 2024, 15:47

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Artist and welder Mollie Kash and her husband Ken have recently opened a small kiosk in their adopted village of Cútar in the Axarquía in what used to be a little bar. As well as selling drinks and snacks to the many cyclists and tourists whopass through the village, they also sell their art and work by other local artists.

The idea came to Mollie as she thought it would be "a nice place" to put her work "and to invite other local artists and artisans to sell their things too". She goes on to say, "Our neighbours have a lot of stories and pictures. It has a lot of local nostalgia, so it seemed like a natural thing to do."

Mollie, 59, is a welder by trade, as is Ken. The couple are originally from Buffalo in New York state, where they lived until 2017. She jokes about the job, "We made furniture, railings and gates to support our art habit."

As the "first obvious female welder in Buffalo" in the 1980s, Mollie says she was "pretty visible". People knew who she was and she says that it was an "interesting and fun" time.

While she was conscious that at the time she was a 'woman in a man's world' she says that the experience was positive and being a woman was more of a help than a hindrance in terms of getting work.

"People were surprised, but if anything I was more of a unique thing. I didn't feel I was in a situation where people were dismissive. The experience was positive rather than negative. I think it helped to get work because people knew who I was," Mollie reflects.

She says she was "really encouraged" by the people around her and that "it wasn't challenging". In her view Buffalo "is a great place for young artists and a very supportive community. It's a young, college town".

Metal handbags

Another of the creations that Mollie made with Ken was a series of handbags made out of metal. They have mainly been shown in exhibitions although Mollie says that some of the smaller shoulder bags they made that were just big enough to fit a mobile phone were popular and sold well.

"We would love to continue to create them here and find the right market for them," she adds.

In 2017 Mollie and Ken were looking for a change. It was "time to strike out on our own," Mollie says, as their children had grown up and left home. They considered living "a kind of nomad life" travelling around the USA, but ended up coming to the south of Spain and falling in love with Cútar.

Mollie had previously spent time in Europe - she studied in Sienna, Italy, for a semester during her college years and travelled around then. She was familiar with Catalonia, but had never been to the south of Spain before.

The couple found a small B&B in Cútar and stayed there for a while with a view to exploring the local area, but then they found a property that they liked: "It was fairly quick," laughs Mollie.

They have been there ever since. "We really love Cútar. It's definitely a nice place up in the mountains, off the beaten path," says Mollie.

Marionettes

Now the artist is doing things that she has "always found interesting but never had time for" such as painting and printmaking. In fact she used to hold printmaking workshops and says that she is hoping to set up some workshops in spring.

Something else that Mollie has started to make is marionettes. She explains that during lockdown, when "everyone had more time on their hands and we all thought about things we hadn't thought about in a long time" Mollie remembered a marionette she had had as a child, so she did some research and started to make one.

She now has around 20 and they have "started to get a real following" on Instagram. They do all sorts of things from playing the piano to moving their own mini marionettes. "I'm not sure where they'll go from here, but I really love making them," she admits.

Now the focus is on getting the kiosk going and continuing to create art to add to the snacks and drinks so that it becomes not just nostalgia, but a living, breathing place that the locals can enjoy again.

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