Faces of Mallorca highlights those people on the island that make it such a special place to live and Joanna de Deia, a well-known Deia ceramist, is one of those wonderful people who give their time, energy and passion to help others.If you have been in Mallorca for some time, you will no doubt have met Joanna at one time or another. This bubbly American is somewhat of a stalwart on the social scene on the island and has spent her last four decades on Mallorca working to improve the way that we look afterthe sea that sustains us. Working from her gorgeous studio in her hometown of Deia, Joanna creates beautiful ceramics, mainly inspired by the island and the sea. She even has a few celebrity clients but we shall get to that….Joanna’s story begins in theUnited States where she was fortunate enough to sail when she was a child which ignited her passion to live a simple life in, surrounded by the sea.After attending university, this dream became a reality when she flew to the Caribbean and quickly began working on a beautiful boat. Just over a year later she completed her first Atlantic crossing and arrived in Mallorca. After a while, she met her husband in Deia and the two were soon mingling with famous artists and musicians in the area in their cafe.“I had no idea that this little village had so many fabulous, well-known and talented artists and musicians…it was so much fun in the 80s!” she tells me. During those years of running the cafe, Joanna also worked on her ceramics, something that she had been studying since she was 15 years old. It was here that she began creating her famous ceramic fish that once hung in the cafe. Joanna showed me one of the fish during our chat and told me that it mysteriously appeared on her doorstep recently -20 years later!After 17 years of running the cafe and raising their kids, Joanna and her husband sold it and in 1993 Joanna finally opened her own ceramics studio and focused on her passion full time. During this time, Joanna was actively involved in the community and became a representative of the Residents Association on behalf of artists. Through this position, Joanna became involved in launching a fundraiser to fix a problem with water pollution that was plaguing Deia at the time.This started her on a path that led her to be one of the leading marine conservation activists and campaigners onMallorca.Once Deia council had fixed the sewage problem, Joanna moved on to buoys. At the time, boats could come up to the shore and drop anchor meaning that swimmers were often in danger of being struck. Again, this campaign was successful and the buoys that Joanna and the other volunteers fought for are still in place today.
To protect the sea that surrounds us, Joanna’s next campaign was to organise beach cleans and raise awareness of the amount of rubbish, plastic or otherwise, that was being dumped into our beautiful azure waters. It was at an event at the Robert Graves Centre that Joanna’s cause was raised and local resident (and Hollywood superstar!) Michael Douglaswaded in with his support and the next day the powers that be launched into action to get things cleaned up.“It is really quite impressive, the power of celebrity. just by backing something, famous people can use their influence to get things done ” Joanna comments. How true this is and it is perhaps a sad thing that it takes someone else to force us into action.Joanna’s work in marine conservation really kicked up a gear when she went to San Francisco and spoke to the Mission Blue Foundationabout working on Mallorca. Until this point, search as she might, there was no established marine conservation organisationon Mallorca. Staggering really when you think that we are, quite literally, surrounded by the sea and many of us rely on it for our livelihoods and leisure!After this meeting in San Francisco Joanna got in touch with Brad Robertson (some of you may know him or remember him from one of my previous ‘Faces of Mallorca’ features) and put him in touch with her contact at Mission Blue. One of Joanna’s real-life heroines, Sylvia Earle, is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for corporate and non-profit organisations; she isat the helm of Mission Blue . Thiswas a huge win for Joanna and the Balearics“I made an introduction and Brad ( of Save the Med Foundation ) made it happen. We finally got the first Mission Blue Hope Spot in the Mediterranean,” she says with adoration and pride.Save The Med Foundation, which we all know today, has shaped the way we see marine conservation along with other groupslike the Cleanwave Movementmaking a splash to improve our waters.So how does an American ceramist living in a mountain village on Mallorca merge her passions? By creating artto raise awareness of the need to preserve and protect the Mediterranean Sea and raising funds for the organisations she supports -a true example of using one passion to fuel another. You can see her colourful and attractive ceramic marine conservation murals in Soller, Deia and Valldemossa. She hopes to get them up all over the coast of Mallorca“I have always felt that art, even if decorative art, should have the effect of opening up the minds of people to a new perspective in one way or another. I feel that my art ( especially the Save The Med murals ) really reflects the true natural beauty of Mallorca and will inspire people to be more conscious of what they do with their rubbish so it doesn’t end up in the sea
Joanna’s latest project is a new ceramic mural that she is creating to raise awareness of the relationship between people and the sea and there is no better metaphor than a mermaid for such a project -a person that lives in the sea with all of the attributes of a human without, what’s that word again, feet.If Joanna’s story has inspired you, dive into her website www.ceramicsbyjoanna.comor Instagram @ceramicsbyjoanna to have a look at some of her work or pop into her studio in Deia for a chat with this, quite frankly, fascinating woman. I guarantee you will hit it off and her stories are fabulous (I promise I have not been bribed but, who knows, maybe someone will leave me a piece of her work on my doorstep!? By Ben Mulvey