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Artist and colourist Basma Ashworth and her husband now live in Nerja. Basma Ashworth
Karma chameleon: changing colours in a new environment
In the frame

Karma chameleon: changing colours in a new environment

Although Basma admits that when she started an art course at college she was "hopeless at sewing" she discovered that she had a real flair for design

Friday, 23 February 2024

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Artist Basma Ashworth didn't ever see herself living in Spain, but here she is and now she likes it so much it's definitely "home" for the foreseeable future.

She and her husband, Vic, have been here for almost four years. Now settled In Nerja, Basma, who describes herself as "a colourist", has a studio where she creates textiles, felting and large prints. She is a member of the Arts Society Nerja and took part in their recent 30th anniversary exhibition which was held in the town.

Basma, who was living in Cornwall in the UK before coming to Spain, says that her work and the colours she uses have changed since she's been here. "I started to paint using my usual colours, but something didn't look right. It was very, very odd, the colours somehow don't look right in Spain," she explains.

Basma goes on to say, "It took me a long time to capture the colours in my mind of my surroundings. In 20 years I think I had never painted using pink - now I have half a dozen with pink. I think it's the colour of the flowers when you're walking and subconsciously they start coming through."

Basma was "born in a remote area in the mountains of Kurdistan" and spent part of her childhood "living in a community of ancient Assyrians".

Her family emigrated to Greece when she was a child and Basma has Greek nationality. She moved to the UK to study Chemical Engineering in 1977 and went on to do a PhD at the University of Manchester. She then found work as a research scientist for the Nature Conservancy Council, a job which involved a lot of travelling around the whole country.

At the same time Vic, also an engineer, was working abroad a lot and by then the couple had a young daughter. "I didn't want to keep leaving our daughter with nannies, so one day I called my husband and told him I was going to resign," Basma says.

This was 1997 and it was then that she discovered her artistic talents. She went to college to study art, inspired by a friend who had told her: "Sew them yourself," when Basma asked her to make some cushions from fabric she'd bought in the British interiors shop Habitat.

Although Basma admits that when she started the course she was "hopeless at sewing" she discovered that she had a real flair for design. "I made a friend on the course who was good at sewing but not so good at the design side, so I did all of her design work and she did all of my sewing," Basma laughs.

She then went to Falmouth University to do a degree in Fine Art. By then the couple were living on a farm in Cornwall, where Basma had a large studio to create her work and she was a member of the Arts Society in Penzance.

Homeless

However, after the Brexit referendum she decided to leave the UK and go back to Greece. The couple sold the farm and had booked flights to Greece, but then the pandemic struck and the couple found themselves homeless. "We sold the farm the day before the first lockdown started," says Basma.

They camped out at their daughter's house in Devon for a while and then rented a place nearby, but Basma vowed that she would be "on the first flight out of the UK" and either to Greece or another EU country which she thought would make getting to Greece easier.

She reveals that the first flight she managed to get on was to Malaga, where she stayed with a friend and Vic joined her later. Just as coming to Malaga was dictated by fate, the couple also discovered Nerja "by chance".

Basma admits that even though she and Vic had travelled extensively through Spain previously they had "never been to Malaga" and had never thought of living in Spain.

"Spain was probably the last country I would have chosen because it's very similar to Greece. Why would I go to somewhere that has similar habits, culture, way of life? It wasn't somewhere I would have chosen, but now I like it very much. It feels very much like home," she confesses.

Life took an unexpected turn which led to a change in the colours of her art. But like chameleons, the art and the couple have adapted to their surroundings and Basma says, "We will stay in Nerja, unless something very, very drastic happens. For now it is home. We are very happy."

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