School For Tourists: Additional Activity

During my second visit to Casares I joined a walking group of local residents to explore the rural areas surrounding Casares and to discuss the questions of the School for Tourists.

School for Tourists Programme

Hedge School*


Organised as part of the project The School For Tourists by artist Emma Smith


Wednesday 17 October


Meeting Point: Centro d’Artisania, Calle Villa


The aim of the School for Tourists is to think through and pilot possibilities for a new form of tourism: one that is reciprocal, contributive and sustainable.

Hedge School is an event created by The School for Tourists to think through and practically test out ideas for a new model of tourism that is of benefit to the residents of Casares.


The Hedge School will ask the following questions:

– What could be gained by inverting the tourist expectation of being serviced by considering the notion that the tourist could be of resource to an area?

– How might the potential of the vast range of skills, interests and knowledge of visitors and residents that come into proximity through tourism be connected and contributed to a location?

– How can the experience / education / facilities available to the tourist also be of use and benefit to local residents?

These questions will be posed and thought out through a series of practical activities that will act as a platform for discussion.


The Hedge School is a mobile programme and will be hosted in a number of locations around Casares. The activities included in this event are as follows:


Summary of activities:

Introduction: artist talk

Skills workshop: learning local skills

Story telling street walk: mobile theatrical street performances

Wayfaring: getting lost together

Read-In: meeting with strangers and sharing language

Cooking Lesson: sharing knowledge of food

Knowledge Exchange: an opportunity for tourists to give back.


Details of Activities:


Artist Talk

An introductory talk by Artist Emma Smith on the problems of tourism, the need for new models and an outline of the days event.


Skills Workshop

A workshop to learn local skills connected to the land. This workshop tests out a format by which local residents can share and pass on skills that connect them to Casares while offering tourists a point of entry to engage physically with the knowledge of the area. In learning these skills together the model offers the potential for tourism to support local learning. During this session the group will be invited to think through other skills that might feed into a future model of this programme.


Language of the Land

A mobile story telling walk of the streets of Casares. Viewing Casares as an active living space rather than historic monument this walk includes stories of the streets recounted in Spanish and enacted by local actors. This session aims to create a format through which residents can recall and share their local histories and tourists can listen to and learn the phrases and expressions of these tales while understanding their content through the improvised enactments. While walking participants will also be invited to consider how we might re-map Casares by the verbs and actions that one does here as apposed to the nouns and names that frieze it in time.



An opportunity to get lost in Casares. Inviting a tourist participant to volunteer to lead the group in any direction they choose, this session will focus on what can be learnt by walking together, and the importance of being lost as a point to come together.



Based on the method created by Annette Kraus in Holland, the group will go from house to house asking if someone will host us for our next session: a collective reading. The aim of this session is to test a format by which strangers can come together instantaneously without prior arrangment, utilizing this moment of the coming together of tourists and residents as a space to share language and learn from one another. Once the group has been invited into someone’s house or terrace the group will read together Act 2, Scene 2 of Brian Friel’s play Translations, working together to translate the work from English to Spanish and adapting it to the location of Casares.


Cooking Lesson

This session offers the opportunity to learn about local food and recipes from a resident of Casares. Like the skill sharing workshop the format offers the opportunity for local residents to share and pass on skills while tourists engage physically with the knowledge of Casares, encouraging an understanding of the connection between food and place.


Knowledge Exchange

This session offers the opportunity for the tourist to give back. Welcomed into a holiday home this session will offer a reciprocal cooking lesson offered by the artist as a visitor to Casares.


The day will close with a discussion on how ideas from the event may be taken forward.

* The Hedge School originated in Ireland as a format to bring people together in rural areas to share their oral knowledge. The idea of the format is to be mobile – to move with the knowledge, to connect with the place that you are in, and always to share.


School for Tourists: Press Interview

Interview of Emma Smith by Yerba Magazine:
  • What is the start of your project?

My project is called the ‘School for Tourists’. The School for Tourists was initiated during a one year residency at Grizedale Arts in the Lake Distict, UK, in 2011. Held at the Coniston Institute, a historic building created by John Ruskin in the 19th Century, for education, the arts and social cohesion, the School for Tourists examined existing tourism, as well as the historical and sociological impact of the tourist. Through a week long course that brought together local residents, workers, council members, conservationists, service industry professionals and tourists the project aimed to consider and propose new models of relationship that might offer more to host and guest, to pilot and test new forms of tourism that are reciprocal and contributive.

The School for Tourists II in Casares follows on as a development of this project. Having traced the history of tourism from the Grand Tour, to the package holiday, the modernist quest for authenticity to the post-modern quest for the in-authentic the School for Tourists II asks how we might shape a tourist model that begins in the muddy broken middle ground of relationship. What are the tactics for exchange and human relation that can result in benefit beyond the financial myth of tourist development?


  • When you arrived in Casares, how have you organized your work?

My residency in Casares is divided into two parts, a research visit and a production visit. The first trip was to learn and understand more about the situation in Casares. Working with translator Rosario Loring, I set up a number of meetings with residents, workers and visitors in Casares, including people who were born there, Spanish nationals who are now living in Casares, British nationals who have emigrated there, tourist visitors and professional working in the tourist industry. Through these meetings I was able to get a better understanding of how tourism currently operates in Casares, the various attitudes towards tourism and the skills and knowledge of residents of the village.


  • Did you know Casares before?

No this was my first time in Casares. That is why the research trip was important as part of my working process.


  • What have you found out about Casares and the tourism there in your project?

Tourism in Casares is often in the form of day trippers. There is one hotel and a number of rentable houses within the village but most visitors go for the day. For some residents who do not want the village spoiled by too many visitors it is seen as a good think that the tourists don’t stay long, for others seeking to make a living from them it is seen as bad. The location of Casares plays a big part in the number of tourist visitors to the village. A large number of tourist visitors associate holidaying in the Costa del Sol area with beach holidays and it is for this reason that most people do not stay in Casares over night as most prefer to stay along the coast. What Casares has to offer as a historic rural village is much more similar to its neighboring villages in the mountains and not necessarily associated with the Costa del Sol.

The average number of visitors per year, over the last 5 years, is 4000 people. About 58% of these are Spanish, 28% British, 8% French, 4% German and 2% of other nationality.


  • Do you think another tourism in Costa del Sol is possible?

Casares is at an exciting point in terms of thinking about tourist development. It has a lot to offer the tourist visitor, it has an existing tourist audience, but it has not yet reached the number of visitors found along the coast that has resulted in the engulfment and domination by tourist development. Casares is primarily lived in by Casareños – it is a place more than a destination. It has witnessed what has happened along the coast, both in terms of the impact of mass tourism but also the financial fall out as the market has collapsed. Casares is well positioned to learn from what has happened around it and to consider alternative and sustainable models.


  • What is your best experience during this time in Casares?

During my research time I wanted to get an understanding of the skills particular to the residents of Casares which could be considered in a tourist model that looks at the exchange of knowledge. Everyone I met was extremely generous with their time but I was particularly touched by my meeting with Eieuteria, a resident of Casares, who is an expert at crochet. Visiting her at home to see her handwork, she demonstrated the very thing I am most keen to explore throughout the whole project – how to consider tourism from the starting point of personal relationship. Welcoming me into her home, repeatedly kissing me and making me feel more like a long lost family member than a stranger her kindness and warmth was extraordinary. She demonstrated the perfect example of what can be gained when people come together with mutual interest and friendship and treat each other with the love you would normally only afford to people you know. In this instance the tourist relationship is changed from visitor and service provider, beyond host and guest, to friendship, a healthier model and one which is reciprocal.


más almendras

Este fin de semana pelamos casi tres kilos de almendras. Las cascamos entre tres y el domingo las pelé. Me ha quedado doliendo el hombro. Pensé que nunca iba a terminar. Mientras cascábamos el sábado Alejandrito nos contó que él sólo lee libros de fútbol, repostería y agricultura. Elena, la señora rumana, siempre nos trae trozos de los pasteles que hace, siempre hace pasteles, pero no tenía ni idea que Alejandrito fuese repostero. Puede que él y yo seamos los que tenemos más ganas de hacer los mazapanes.

En la finca ya nadie hace matanza, pero Elena compra carne en la carnicería y la ahúma, me ha dado unos chorizos. Este año le ha costado hacerlos porque cada vez que encendía el fuego Michaela le decía que lo apagara, que daba mal olor.

Siempre cuando llega el momento de irse nadie quiere irse pero todos nos vamos.

Esta mañana hemos ido al notario a firmar unos papeles. Dijo que tiene tres fincas en venta, una en La Mancha, otra en Extremadura. De unas seiscientas hectáreas creo, finquitas dijo… Que no le había salido bien el negocio de la agricultura.








Acción pedagógica. Colegio Madrigal de La Vera

Estamos a Diciembre, han pasado tres meses desde la última vez que anduvimos por estas tierras. La sierra está nevada, y la bruma llega hasta el pueblo de Madrigal de La Vera; ¡cómo estará nuestra choza!, seguro cubierta de niebla y toda nevada, ya no habrá pastos allí arriba.

Tras haber terminado la edición de nuestro vídeo, hemos venido al colegio público de Madrigal de La Vera para mostrarselo a los chavales de la zona. A través del visionado del audiovisual y fotografías del proyecto, ponemos en cómun con ellos nuestras reflexiones sobre los antiguos usos y abandono y/o transformación de su paisaje.

Hemos presentado el trabajo a los alumnos de 5 y 6º de la ESO, eran 30 niños en total de entre 10 y 11 años y dos profesoras. La acción pedagógica fué un éxito. Entendieron y disfrutaron del vídeo, hablamos largo y tendido del medio de vida del pastoreo, de las cabras, los afinadores de campanas y del bello paisaje en desuso de la sierra de Gredos. Así que no podemos pedir más, objetivo cumplido. Os adjunto unas imágenes que espero también vean los chavales.

PD: ¡Muchas gracias a todo el Colegio de Madrigal de La Vera!, a su directora y profesores, por acogernos tan amablemente para presentar este proyecto, y sobre todo a los chicos de 5º y 6º de la ESO para su entusiasmo.