Intermedia communication or the experienced genre

The Stage director was Oswaldo Martín del Campo, the film director was Yannic Solis, with stage design by Mario Marin, and costume designs by Frida Chacón and Teresa Cedillo. Photograph: Offenbach Operetta Studio.

By César Octavio Moreno Zayas

I went last Sunday 5 of December to the Theatre of the City Esperanza Iris in Mexico City. The lovely venue, where once the famous tenor Caruso sang, hosted the event Tres Óperas en cine mudo (Three operas in silent-film format). This show, programmed by Ópera Cinema and Offenbach Operetta Studio, presented the famous Giacomo Puccini’s Trittico, Il tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, but with a projection of a movie in the style of the silent films, with live singers and a pianist. I was surprised when I read about this upcoming event because by then I was giving some lectures on opera on the distance. During my lectures, I talked about how opera, as a complex show, which gathers a lot of people and huge machinery, has worked through all the history to elaborate also small versions of itself, to allow its portability and the reduction of its costs. I remembered providing examples of the arrangements and reductions to the piano, so people could play the famous arias at home, a very common practice in the 19th century, the reductions of an orchestra to turn full a scale work into chamber work, and also the video versions of operas. Therefore, I mentioned in my lecture that opera had a good experience at working on distance, and by the arrival of the Covid-19 crisis, the genre was ready enough to present a different types of programs on distance. 

Opera lovers remember the film versions of opera staged by famous singers in the 70s and 80s. For example, Rigoletto with Luciano Pavarotti and Edita Gruberova (1982), or Madama Butterfly (1972) with Placido Domingo and Mirellla Freni. However, the link between opera and cinema is as old as the same genre of cinema is. We can find in the early times of the film industry works based on the biographies of Mozart, Wagner or Beethoven, moreover, there are early film versions of famous operas. E.g. in 1926 the premiere of Der Rosenkavalier, directed by Robert Wiene, took place. This 88-minute film is based on the famous opera composed by Richard Strauss, which premiered in 1911; in fact, the same Strauss did the musical arrangements for the film, and he conducted at the premiere of the film. Therefore, the link between opera and cinema is very old, and I am happy that Oswaldo Martí­n del Campo, director of the project I recently saw, rescued this early connection of two major and mass artistic genres. 

Back in 2019, Oswaldo presented at the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City the program Dos ciegos (Two Blind Men). This program consisted of arias or very reduced operas, mostly by Jacque Offenbach, and with the projection of fragments of silent films. But there was one film created for this project, one dedicated to the short work of Offenbach, Les Deux Aveugles (Two Blind Men). This proposal helped the director to elaborate a nice and refined idea, and gain experience for all the crises of 2020. The three Puccini’s operas were prepared during 2020 and early 2021. When venues start to reopen, and open-air events were allowed, the Trittico was presented in February and March in a drive-in cinema; each title on a different night. The performance of last Sunday was the first in-theatre performance and the presentation of the full Trittico.

The ambitious presentation of the three operas cast a very nice and balanced team of voices. I highlight here the work of Armando Mora as Luigi (Il Tabarro). Good shape of the voice, adequate for the role. Marcela Robles as Giorgetta (Il Tabarro) and Abbess (Suor Angelica), had a good and powerful voice. Martha Llamas as Angelica (Suor Angelica), all the opera in good shape, good control of the voice, and adequate projection of it. 

The Stage director was Oswaldo Martín del Campo, the film director was Yannic Solis, with stage design by Mario Marin, and costume designs by Frida Chacón and Teresa Cedillo. First, they produced different videos. Il tabarro combined the boat stage, common for this work, together with silent footages of Paris, Suor Angelica was recorded at a colonial convent, and Gianni Schicchi adapted the plot to Adam’s Family style. Therefore, each work had its form to approach it, from a staged made for Il Tabarro, to a real site in Suor Angelica, and with a free interpretation of the plot for the Schicchi. In consequence, the program as it is, gives different choices of the opera but also allows presenting them separately. The concept of the silent film helps the producer, who will have a portable show, the reduction of the text to a small group of captions, but the opportunity to use live singers and a live piano. This project, in the end paradoxically combines the easy multiplication of the operatic experience, as any film is, but the live singers help to create a unique experience at each performance. I heard that this project has traveled also to other non-traditional operatic venues, neighbourhoods, prisons, and others. I think is a good starting point for a potential operatic audience, and I hope there will be a continuation of the project and more titles are on their way.

  • Cesar Octavio Moreno Zayas. PhD. in Music from the University of Nottingham. He is a scholar specialized in opera, with particular attention on sociology of opera. He has participated at international congresses on opera at the Sibleius Academy, University of Copenhagen, University of Nottingham, CENIDIM, UNAM, among others. He collaborates with articles and reviews on opera and other cultural subjects with Revista 9 Musas (Spain), Mexican Cultural Centre (UK) and Operawire (USA). He is the director of Opera in Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to the production of opera and arts. As producer he worked at the world-premiere of Eugenia, a chamber opera composed by Armando Ortega, and for the Latin-American premiere of Aci, Galatea e Polifemo by Georg F. Handel. He has worked with institutions like 17, Instituto de Estudios Críticos, Chorus of the University of Veracruz, Anáhuac University, School of Music Fausto de Andrés y Aguirre, and others, where he gave courses on history of opera and sociology of this genre. The book «Ópera de México», which he edited, will be released in few days. It gathers papers presented and prepared during the lectures on Mexican Opera, coordinated by Dr. Enid Negrete; the book is published by 9 Musas.

The London Spanish Book & Zine Fair

The London Spanish Book and Zine Fair, the first dedicated event to publications in Spanish in the United Kingdom, will take place on the Friday 4th and Saturday 5th of October 2019 at InSpire, the Crypt of St Peter’s, Liverpool Grove, SE17 2HH. (En español clic aquí). 

LSBF will showcase Spanish, English and dual language publications by Iberoamerican authors and publishers alongside works by authors of other nationalities that are of cultural interest to the programme.

The event was born out of an open call by the editorial team behind La Tundra Magazine and it’s sponsored by OWRI (Open World Research Initiative), University of London’s IMLR (Institute of Modern Languages Research), The European Bookshop and the magazine, La Tundra. With the support of The Mexican Cultural Centre, Nottingham.

LSBF strives to build a platform to increase awareness, promote, nurture and maximize opportunities for Spanish language literature in the UK by facilitating links between authors, publishers, readers and new audiences. With more than thirty exhibitors taking part on its first edition, LSBF is bound to become a major player within the international Spanish language literary scene.


Friends of Alice PublishingVictorina PressEl Ojo de la cultura HispanoamericanaNewham Poetry GroupLas Juanas (Hispano-American Women on Memory), Battersea SpanishLiterary SouthFlawaEditorial Castillos De Arena and De Lujurias y Musas are amongst the confirmed UK-based publishers taking part, alongside Zemí Books (Dominican Republic/Puerto Rico) and Flamboyant (A Spanish Publisher of children and young adults books). Bilingual magazine, El FuegoVulva FanzineMatemates and the multinational collective Me Flipa Colectivo are some of the many other participating exhibitors.

LSBF  is delighted to also welcome authors Marta Querol (Spain), Marina Lomar (Spain), Sonia Quintero (Colombia), Edo Brenes (Costa Rica), Murnau den Linden (Mexico), Francesca Tiley (UK), Verónica Corral (Spain), Luis Elvira (Spain), Patricia Díaz (Colombia), Lola Llatas (Spain) Karlina Veras (Dominican Republic) and Isabel del Rio (Spain) as well as The European Bookshop and The Feminist Library.


In addition to the above guests, LSBF is proud to host a number of small independent and self-published FANZINE creators and publishing houses. Jael García (LAWA/ Feminopraxis) curates ‘Presencias de allá para acá’, a collective space dedicated exclusively to the production of Spanish, English or bilingual fanzines exploring themes of belonging, identity, language and the global South/North interrelation. The session’s participating authors and publishers include Editorial FacsímilesMarcela Terán, Mabel Evergreen-OaksJuan Analí and Eva MejíasLAWRS’s fanzine Sin FronterasLawa’s Mujeres Tejiendo El Cambio and Chavitas, a fanzine from the students of Labeth’s St. Joseph College, among others.

La Tundra Collective’s stand will showcase a variety of publications, including La Tundra MagazineEditorial Chirimbote, children and teen’s magazine Intrépidas (Argentina), Shanghai-produced bilingual Spanish/Chinese magazine Chop Suey, feminist journal Femiñetas (Argentina/España), Otra Dimensión Fanzine (Spain) and Alma Del Universo (Argentina). The stand will also feature a selection of feminist books curated by Silvia Demetilla and publications by independent Argentinean publishers such as Tren En MovimientoHekhtMaten Al Mensajero and Milena Caserola in addition to work by authors Naty Menstrual and Cecilia Czperling.


The fair will host a diverse programme of talks. Some of the highlights include:

  • The situation of the Latin American writers in the UK’ (La situación del escritor latinoamericano en el Reino Unido)- Round table with  Enrique Zattara (El Ojo de la cultura Hispanoamericana) and writers Gunter SilvaChloe Aridjis and Ana Vidal. (In Spanish)
  • ‘Cartonera’s books’ (Libros cartoneros) – With Dr. Lucy Bell and Dr. María Soledad Montañez (University of London). (In English)
  •  ‘Literature and Women in Spain in the XXI century’ (Literatura y mujer en España en el siglo XXI) – With Spanish writers Marta Querol and Marina López (In Spanish) 
  • ‘In conversation with Dolores Conquero’. Dolores Conquero is a Spanish writer and journalist. She’s a regular contributor at El País. Her non fiction collection of tales, Amores contra el Tiempo,  is published by Editorial Planeta.  (In Spanish)

Presented by Concep Díaz Pérez (La Tundra)

  • ‘The independent comic in Latinamerica’ (El cómic contemporáneo en Latinoamérica) – With Costa Rican author Edo Brenes – Author published by Reservoir Books. (In English).
  •  ‘The Bilingual Writer’ – With Isabel del Rio (Friends of Alice Publishing) and authors Juana Adcock, Leo Boix and Karina Lickorish Quinn. (In English)
  • From the independence to mainstream in 3 years (De la independencia al mainstream en tres años) – With Murnau Den -Linden – Author published by Editorial Planeta-  (In English)
  •  ‘Literary Travel in the Low Cost Era’ (Viajes literarios en la era de los viajes low budget) with writer and journalist Alejandro Luque – (In SPANISH)
  • ‘In conversation with Julianne Pachico’, presented by Silvia Rothlisberger (Literary South).


The programme is completed by a wealth of practical workshops to encourage visitors to try out their hand at writing their own stories and poems.

  • ‘Create a mini story based on other cultures’ (Crea una mini historia basándote en otras culturas) is a family- friendly workshop, facilitated by Mabel Encinas-Sánchez and Marijo Alba-Sánchez.
  •  ‘Your memories are poetry’ (Tus memorias son poesía) with Isabel Ros López and Denisse Vargas Bolaños, members of the collective, Las Juanas.
  • ‘Fanzine Workshop’ with The Feminist Library’s Spanish Club.
  • ‘Flash Fiction’ with Dominican writer Karlina Veras.
  • Storytelling for young children with Spanish writer Lola Llatas, based on the children’s tales series ‘Los misterios de Sara’ by the Spanish author.
  • ‘How to build a character based on the women of Latinamerican Independence’ (Cómo construir un personaje basado en las mujeres de la independencia de Latinoamérica) with Patricia Díaz (London College of Communication).

Finally, there will be a poetry open mic run by the literary group Leyendo Poesía En Londres (previous registration is needed to participate).

The event takes place Friday 4th and Saturday 5th of October at InSpire, the Crypt of St Peter’s, Liverpool Grove, SE17 2HH. The official launch takes place on Friday 4th October at 6PM with live music and poetry by Gabriel Moreno

LSBF is a free event and open to all but registration is required. Please register at Eventbrite. For more information, photos, times and schedule please contact 

Please use the Hashtag #LSBF2019

The London Spanish Book & Zine Fair
4 & 5 de OCTUBRE de 2019
InSpire – the Crypt at at St Peter’s
Liverpool Grove
SE17 2HH London

Opening times
Friday 4th October 2 pm to 7 pm
Saturday 5th October 11 am to 5 pm

Free but you must register previously.

About Open World Research Initiative (OWRI)

‘This research strand, part of the ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’ project, funded as part of the AHRC‘s Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) initiative, is led by the School of Advanced Studys Institute of Modern Languages Research (University of London).

The OWRI project consists of four major research programmes, funded by the UK’s Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The IMLR’s researchers are part of a consortium, led by Professor Stephen Hutchings (University of Manchester), which has been awarded £3.9 million to develop a large interdisciplinary programme of research titled ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’.

The aim of AHRC’s multi-million pound investment in its priority area of modern languages is to explore and foreground the central role that languages play in relation to key contemporary issues, such as social cohesion, migration, health, business and diplomacy. The initiative seeks to have a significant impact on the study of modern languages in the UK.

About La Tundra Magazine

La Tundra Revista is an independent printed / digital magazine and online platform written in Spanish since 2011 in the UK. The cultural and creative magazine features different topics from music, cinema, design and graphic art to articles about life in London and the world, interviews to local and international artists, fashion, ecology, sustainability, wellbeing and psychology. Founded by architect and artist Silvia Demetilla, the aim of the magazine is to reach new audiences in the UK showcasing well-established artists but also supporting new talents and festivals. As a media we are always happy to back cultural projects (Festivals and Cultural projects from Spanish and Latin American artists, events, concerts, languages and tourism fairs). Most of La Tundra’s readers are professionals and students from the Arts and Culture, bilinguals and locals interested in the Spanish and Latin-American lifestyle. Birkbeck University has listed La Tundra Revista as an online resource for students on its Spanish courses. The magazine has national distribution in Spain.

About The European Bookshop

The European Bookshop, established in 1954, is a London-based specialised bookshop in Spanish language publications.

About The Mexican Cultural Centre

The Mexican Cultural Centre (MCC) is the first virtual non-profit cultural centre registered in the United Kingdom. The MCC promotes and divulges Mexican culture in international collaboration with academic, artistic, and cultural projects. 

The Conquest of Mexico or the discussion at the opera house

By César Octavio Moreno Zayas

500 years ago, on April 22 Hernan Cortez arrived to Veracruz to start what is called the conquest of Mexico. Centuries have passed and still, we don’t see a 100% serenity in the environment of all the parts.

For example, recently the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has sent, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico a letter to the government of Spain, particularly the King. He asked for an official apology for the issues caused by the conquest. The letter and the rejection of it by the monarch have caused clashes and reactions on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Intellectuals of any type discussed and argued the pros and cons of that diplomatic movement. Some have agreed about the need for an apology, while others voted for a peaceful silence for the best of the mutual respect. The upheaval even moved scholars to dig into the archives, where they spotted a peace treaty between Mexico and Spain signed back in 1836.

«Fernand Cortez ou la conquête du Mexique : sept pl. de costumes.» Source / Bibliothèque nationale de France.

The turmoil, diplomatic and on the media, is not new and it shows that there is still too much to work on. Some weeks ago the Mexican streaming platform Claro Video has released the documentary Malintzin; Marina, Malinche o Malintzin was the interpreter of Hernan Cortés. Via Marina, the Spaniard conquistador was able to understand and communicate his desires and plans to his allies and enemies in central Mexico. Marina is, then, considered as a traitor by some people, even the word “malinchista,” is often heard among Mexicans, who refer to the person who prefers foreign (people or goods) to Mexican ones. But, this story has another interpretation, which is highlighted in the documentary, that she did not betray her people because the Mexica people were not her people; they were in fact her enemies. In consequence, she acted according to her beliefs for the best of her community. The debate seems, then, to lie on the alliance despite inner conflicts with other cultures or segregation because of those conflicts.

Marina, Cortez, and Emperor Moctezuma are of course very polemic, and their story, as it has been said, had inspired different reactions. Different media and artistic genres have approached the subject and opera is one of them. Opera has  experience at putting on a large scale stage the most interesting representation of social, political or moral issues. For example, the love adventures of Nero depicted in L’Incoronazione di Poppea by Monteverdi, the class distinctions that appear in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, the famous love story of a courtesan in La Traviata by Verdi, public opinion against one man in the dramatic Peter Grimes composed by Britten, or even a terroristic attack as it appears in The Death of Klinghoffer by Williams. Then, opera in more than 400 years has had the time to describe stories, conflicts, traumas, achievements, as well as real, ideal, sad or funny stories. The Conquest of Mexico and its characters, of course, have been in the opera as early as 1733 when Vivaldi composed his Moctezuma

«Fernand Cortez ou la conquête du Mexique : sept pl. de costumes.» Source / Bibliothèque nationale de France.

The subject of the conquest has appeared several times through the history of opera, and one good question is: how to depict that cultural clash in opera? Because, it is not easy to display a conflict like this on a musical drama. I will try to approach to this matter by mentioning two brief examples: Graun’s Montezuma and Spontini’s Fernand Cortez

Carl Heinrich Graun premiered his Montezuma in Berlin in 1755. The libretto was written in French by the same King of Prussia, Frederik II the Great; the text was then translated into Italian by Giampietro Tagliazucchi to be sung in the usual language of the opera in those years. Ramón Jauve-Martín considers that this work does not present the conquest as a triumph of Europe, moreover, it criticizes it and takes side with the Aztec Empire, particularly it reprimands catholic southern Europe. Thus, Frederik and Graun’s approach seems to highlight the differences between Catholic and protestants, and as Marina, they prefer to follow the attraction of the unknown culture of the Americas, rather than accept the well-known political problem in Europe 53 years after Graun’s work, another opera appeared to display a spectacle that will shake the Spanish Empire.

Fernand Cortez, ou La Conquête du Mexique composed by Gaspare Spontini, with a libretto written in French by Etienne de Jouy and Joseph-Alphonse Esménard. The opera tells a story of the conquest, which includes a love story between a daughter of the emperor Montezuma and Cortez. The work finishes with the rendition of the emperor, a peace agreement and also the Aztec monarch gives the hand of his daughter to Cortez. The work, as explained by Sarah Hibberd, reflects the political context of its premiere. It was commissioned by Napoleon I as propaganda after his invasion to Spain in 1808. The conquerors were conquered and the kings were overthrown in both cases. Then, Spontini’s conquest display not just a religious or political conflict in Europe, rather it uses a story of the past to propose or anticipate a future. The problem for Spontini and Napoleon is that this future is not going to happen, because the invasion did not increase the territories, in fact, it encouraged the separation and future creation of new countries, like Mexico. 

The conquest of Mexico in conclusion cannot be labeled  solely as an entertainment, but it is a complex sign made by different readings. Some of those of those readings are still present, for example in the discussions of the letter to the king. However, let’s move to Madrid, maybe we can find some ideas for a truce of this half-millennium conflict. In 2013 the Teatro Real presented a new production of Wolfgang Rihms’ Die Eroberung von Mexiko. The opera, premiered in Hamburg in 1992, has a libretto written by the composer, based on Antonin Artaud, it also includes works by Octavio Paz. The finale of this work is different, and it walks in another direction. In words of Gerard Mortier, Rihm’s opera shows that cultures must understand each other, and their encounter must conclude in harmony, not in blood. Then, we may listen to the opera, is an old genre, it has experience, and it has seen many things of the world. We might learn something from it, and find a peaceful resolution.

César O. Moreno Zayas is a Ph.D. Candidate in Music at The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. He is carrying out a research on opera audiences and management. His main research areas of interests are opera history, sociology of opera, and opera production. He has recently collaborated with publications for Opera Wire, Mexican Cultural Centre and Las Nueve Musas Magazine. The production of opera is another important part in his expertise, he has produced in 2015 the premiered of the opera Eugenia by the Mexican composer Armando Ortega. Now he is working for a project of Acis, Galatea and Polyphemus by Handel for the City of Orizaba. He has presented papers at specialized congresses and institutions on music, media studies and opera at UNAM, University of Copenhagen, CENIDIM, University of Veracruz, Sibelius Academy, Lund University, and at the University of Nottingham. He is currently collaborating on a research project on independent theatre at the Mora Institute in Mexico City, and he co-coordinate at 17, Critical Studies Institute the Certificate on Contemporary Views in Semiotics: Art, Society, and Digitality. 

Luciérnaga: exploring the hyperreality and hyper-myth

By César Octavio Moreno Zayas
PhD Candidate for The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

Photograph: Silvia Peláez.

Last Thursday, October 11, I went to the second performance of Luciérnaga (Firefly) the last opera composed by Gabriela Ortiz with a libretto written by Silvia Peláez. It was a very interesting experience musically, vocally as well as visually. The performance took place at the Sala Miguel Covarrubias at the National Autonomous University (UNAM). This one and a half hour long opera tells the story of Alcira Soust Scaffo, an Uruguayan poet, who locked herself at the male toilet of the Tower of Humanities at UNAM, during a military intervention to the university on September 18, 1968.

Photograph: Silvia Peláez.

1968 was a year of different social movements around the world. In Mexico, there was also a movement that evolved into a large-scale conflict between different groups (students and the state). Books have been written exploring the different reasons that have led to such outcomes. Therefore, it is a sensitive subject to talk about, and to create an opera based on this was not an easy job. Opera and politics or social issues have been always present through the whole history of the genre, but its forms to show it was not always so direct. The 20th and 21st Century have seen the premieres of operas dealing with very specific and contemporary concerns, for example, John Adam’s Doctor Atomic or The Death of Klinghoffer, Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, or Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek. As for me, Luciérnaga was a clever choice among the different options to talk about the movement of 68, which now it is its 50th anniversary.

The librettist has created a good text for a soprano and a male actor. The work narrates a claustrophobic environment, and we see how Alcira, sung by Cecilia Eguiarte, tells what is happening outside the building but also things that happen in her head. She struggles with real facts and with her mind. The actor José Juan Sánchez appears sometimes as a soldier (a real one), others as a mere character of Alcira’s mind, such as a dinosaur (common visual representation of the leading party of that time; PRI).

Photograph: Silvia Peláez.

The music of Gabriela Ortiz was very descriptive for such plot full of uprising emotions and inner feelings. It was a turmoil very well depicted by percussions and winds, sometimes nice and lovely, others aggressive and chaotic, but always on the track of the plot. The soprano Cecilia Eguiarte sang an interesting and convincing Alcira, dealing always well with the defying score and acting adequately. The actor José Juan Sánchez did a good job performing the characters. The orchestra, Onix Ensemble, was conducted by Ludwig Carrasco, very well conducted, always firm and steady.

Photograph: Silvia Peláez.

The production was directed by David Attie. It was a very good work with projections exploring different elements of Alcira’s mind, including the reptile traits. But, also it consisted of some flexible panels resembling the windows of the building, behind those panels we could see the toilets services. The use of all the material was very good, giving always a reason for each element on the stage. It was for me interesting the separation of the singing part and the acting part because it reminds me the distinction that Adorno does between audience who wish to sing, but cannot, and the singers who are able to express the desires of the audience. Considering this perspective Alcira stands for a poet thought that moves in the world of ideas and ideals. The work in the whole was very good, maybe some elements might be extra, as for my taste, but that it is a just personal choice. I highly recommend this work and I am hoping to see it again because it should have had more than three performances.

Introduction of the Proceedings of the XIV Symposium of Mexican Students and Studies in the UK

By Dr. Luis Duran Arenas
Director of the Centre for Mexican Studies in the United Kingdom

One of the most important strategies that any country should pursue is the selection and development of its young talent. It is then a pleasure to write this brief introduction to the memory of the XIV Symposium of Mexican Students and Studies in the UK. As you will see this symposium is a sample of the talent of more than 100 Mexicans that are part of the 1300 plus Mexicans that are pursuing Master and Doctoral Programs in UK universities.

Niebla Zatarain, Jesús, Villa Rodríguez, Abel Osvaldo, Fuentes Pineda, Rosinda, Casasola Zamora, Samuel (2017). Symposium of Mexican Students and Studies. Vol. I Year I. United Kingdom. ISSN 2514-314X.

Mexico has a long tradition of supporting programs for the development of science and technology that need to be updated and rethought given the changing international and national context. Until today the students look for programs in the UK and apply in general considering its individual tastes, and without notice it, the negotiations to accredit an UK university at CONACYT in Mexico. I considered that it is necessary to add to this quasi random process, a combination of priority driven strategies to guarantee that the talent formed in UK universities could have an appropriate fit and places in Mexico to develop both its research and productive capabilities.

It is clear that the first benefit for the Mexican students is the simple exposure to different contexts, technologies, and solutions to local problems. The necessary consequence is to create the opportunities to take back to Mexico links, partners, and institutional contacts to develop new areas of opportunities in Mexico. The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), through its internationalization program, is aiming to provide part of the necessary institutional support to optimize the benefits for the individuals, our institutions and the country.

The XIV Symposium of Mexican Students and Studies in the UK, is an excellent showcase to start, develop and maintain these efforts. We at the Centre for Mexican Studies in the UK, from UNAM, are pleased to be part of this effort and will be committed to support with UNAM participation the work that has been done by our Mexican young talent in the UK.

I hope that you will find the materials written in this memory as engaging as I was able to witness in the presentations in Edinburgh. I am sure that you will proudly receive the results presented by our Mexican young talent and share with me the optimism for their return and application in our country. 

Download the full book here. 

José Santos: A Mexican Artist in the United Kingdom

By Eduardo Estala Rojas

The Mexican artist José Santos (Oaxaca, 1971) arrived in London in 1997 to study art at the University of Worcester. In this exclusive interview, he tells us that he has travelled to many parts of the world and that he received a royal invitation when his work was selected for the inauguration of The Hive, Worcester’s public library. ‘The library was inaugurated by England’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip and my work was part of this special event,’ Santos recounts.

José Santos.

The Mexican artist José Santos. Photograph: Mexican Cultural Centre (MCC), United Kingdom.

Santos currently works for the renowned Museum of Royal Worcester. ‘Historically it is a very important place in terms of country’s ceramics and design. Part of the collection consists of design books, drawings, paintings and ceramics. It also maintains a collection of copper plaques with exquisite engravings, dating from the 18th century until present day.’

‘I contribute to the rescue of these designs, many of which now need restoration rather than just cleaning; unfortunately, some are now beyond repair. Their restoration is very important as the designs end up being part of table pieces for the world’s royalty, so you can begin to imagine their quality, technique and artistic worth. It is an honour to participate in the recovery of the first series of 10 engravings,’ Santos explains.

In his opinion, the art made in the United Kingdom is amongst the best in the world. ‘Here you find a selection of political, controversial, aesthetic, surreal, classic and contemporary art created using different, innovative artistic media. I have had the opportunity to travel around Europe and other parts of the world. In the United Kingdom one finds a great diversity of cultures, theories and philosophical approaches by artists from all around the world that come to settle in this country, making this an exceptional place.’

He also says that to make artistic investigations pushes you to explore, travel and read: ‘Not only in search of truth, but also to discover a unique world that you have created. Why? Because it’s here where you reason, it’s here where you doubt and form your own concepts. To be an artist you should be original and find yourself through the process of doubts and answers within your mental capacity and then convert it into the best medium that you know how.’

He reflects on how he got involved in artistic practice: ‘Ever since I was little, the smell of paper, chalk or any material has been a way to communicate a moment of imagination and creativity that naturally passes through the mind. The walls of my room were my first canvases and they also resulted in my first lessons of punishment. Throughout my years in education I was in the bottom of the class; I never spoke or participated. But my notebooks were always filled drawings of my classmates’ profiles.’

He says that the artists who inspire him are María Izquierdo, Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera. ‘Mexico offers impressive artistic talent. It has a very rich historical and artistic culture and as a Mexican I feel privileged to have been born into a land full of inspiration.’

His work has been exhibited in Mexico and the United Kingdom, in books, museums, galleries, and public spaces, including advertisements for products. ‘I want to think that the power of exhibiting in this country is part of my contribution to Mexican art. What I would love is the opportunity to share and take back this knowledge and these experiences to Mexico. I give talks at the Museum of Royal Worcester about engravings and why they emerge in different periods and influences,’ José Santos adds.

He urges Mexican artists to work hard, ‘to value their work and exhibit it, while being critical of themselves, which is very important. There is a lot of inspiration to be had from great artists, from nature, from the unnatural. However, one must know how to make a positive change in one’s artistic philosophy, and that only emerges with experience. So go forward and do not be afraid to experiment with other artistic media,’ concludes Santos.

Translated to English by Ellen Donnison.

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Eduardo Estala Rojas is a Mexican poet, journalist and cultural advisor. He has worked as a correspondent in different posts for various international press agencies, as well as a critical and cultural consultant specialising in Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom. He has obtained international awards and acknowledgement for his cultural and artistic labour. He is founder and director-general of the Mexican Cultural Centre (MCC), United Kingdom.