I’ve never been sure where I come from, or where exactly I belong. I was born in Madrid and at the age of 10 we moved to the North of England. My father died when I was 6, so when a few years later we moved to the UK and I became anglicised, I quickly distanced myself from my 'spanishness’. I was at that awkward age where all I wanted was to blend in and fit the mould.
Quick sharp I lost any trace of Spain, but my roots remained strong within me, and as we travelled back to see my father’s family a couple of times a year, I was consistently reminded of my heritage.
Academically, I did well, and as an 18-year old I was nudged towards an academic degree at Durham University. My passion, however, was drawing, and I had creativity bubbling inside me all my life, but the advice was very clear: a degree from Durham was the safest route to take. I studied Modern Languages, and after graduating (and following a few interesting temping jobs in London!) I started working for a small London publishing house selling publishing rights. I became International Sales Director, and travelled the world. My speciality was opening up new markets in far-flung countries, so my thirst for adventure and different cultures was quenched.
I met my husband Michael in 2005, and I decided to leave my publishing job and join him in running his online business. By 2009 we had 2 children and had built the company to a stage where we could manage things from afar and move to Spain. We hankered after a simpler life and I felt our children would enjoy a better quality of life in Southern Europe.
We settled in Vejer de la Frontera, near Cadiz, a magical Moorish town where we were captivated by joyful people, cobbled streets and mind-blowing views of Africa across the Atlantic. It is here that I had my epiphany: Michael suggested I step back from the company and dedicate myself to my passion. This was a tremendous turning point, and I will always be grateful to him for pushing me in that direction. I went on to found Arte Vejer, an artist's cooperative based in the Castle of Vejer and the Vejer Sketchers.
After 8 years in Vejer, we decided to hop across the border to another paradise: Silves in Portugal, where we now live.
Here, we are surrounded by nature - the Serra de Monchique, the hills of the Barrocal, orange groves as far as the eye can see, and wildlife is everywhere you look.
The natural world continues to drive my creativity here. We now have three young children: Deia, William and Lola (who was born in Vejer), and I am over the moon to be giving them the gift of life in a child’s paradise where they can play outside all day long, climb old gnarly carob trees, and pick oranges to their hearts' content. They don’t realize just how lucky they are, but they will one day.
© Copyright Sol Muniain 2021