Ever since my time as a student of fine arts, I was severely impacted by the way chemical products are used even in pieces of artwork with the aim of decorating or giving back life to objects. I was a lot younger but already very determined in my thinking that if one day I had my own handicraft workshop, I’d only use natural products that wouldn’t harm the environment.
Today, Lidia’s handicraft shop, La Tinaja de la Axarquía, is a quaint establishment selling 100% local products decorated with totally natural paints. But the shop itself came into being around 20 years ago and was born from the enthusiasm of her parents, Antonio and María Dolores, who were willing to promote local crafts and products. Antonio used to work in marble processing, but soon had to stop due to health reasons, hence the idea of establishing an outlet selling local handicrafts; the ideal solution for him to continue working.
Since the shop opened, Lidia helped out when she had time off from her studies in Granada: “My mother and father’s work were complementary; they had found a way to combine their skills while helping out local businesses. La Tinaja, at that time, was mainly producing amphoras, jars and troughs, so it was strongly connected to local farmers and countryside traditions.”
While La Tinaja continued trading, Lidia was forced to move away from her beloved Andalusia because of the crisis. She began a new life in Paris where she found a job and acquired more experience in the use of natural materials for creating, painting and restoring objects. But in Paris she also gained quite valuable insights that reinforced the thoughts she harboured as a fine arts student: “Paris is a really beautiful city that is visited by millions of people every year. Paris gave me a lot in terms of experience, but it also dawned on me that there are very different ways of visiting a place. I prefer those who help locals and have minimal impact on the place and environment. Since then I have changed my attitude as a tourist, and I have my own way of being “consumeless”. What I still did not know at that time was that I would myself be an ambassador of these values through La Tinaja…”
When Antonio’s health conditions worsened again, Lidia left Paris and came back to Vélez-Málaga. She started looking for a job again, but without success. When Antonio passed away, Lidia decided to continue with the shop and partly reinvented it according to the lessons learned in Paris. It seemed everything happening in her life had prepared her for the moment she would eventually manage La Tinaja, from her fine arts career to her Paris years.
My comeback was necessary but also something I desired. I had never really wanted to leave Vélez-Malaga, but was rather forced by circumstances. When my father passed away, I continued his work but also brought new elements to the shop: we still have local handicrafts but also handmade souvenirs and ceramics. I use my experience to decorate them with organic paints and varnishes, but I also personalise old furniture and objects brought by people who wish to bring them back to life or make them unique. The great thing is that this does no harm to the environment and offers a new lease of life to these items so that they can be enjoyed for longer.
In La Tinaja, in fact, Lidia sells both objects made and decorated by herself— natural products such as organic soaps—and also offers people the chance to bring objects they wish to transform and decorate in order to continue their use.
Bringing objects back to life is another way of being consumeless: if you think about restoring furniture, it’s all about things being given a new opportunity—for which no more trees need be felled—and I can give them a new personality without being hard on nature. People visiting La Tinaja feel they are helping the environment instead of impacting on it, and this is the best exchange I can imagine when I think about somebody visiting a place.
With this new concept for her shop, Lidia found a way to give back to her land what their parents wanted to give and feels she could spread this message to everyone visiting La Tinaja: “We have to be conscious that today the world and its natural resources have been so exploited that we will unlikely ever be able to restore things back to their initial condition. But we can be helpful and have a less severe impact, and this is what I try to do every day”.