Xilitla

Construction at Xilitla and Edward James correspondence. Edward James Archive, © Edward James Foundation
Construction at Xilitla and Edward James correspondence. Edward James Archive © Edward James Foundation

The Edward James Research Group supports the development of projects between West Dean College and Fondo Xilitla. It encourages and supports research by artists, conservators, writers, academics and students and facilitates dialogue and exchange around the life of Edward James as an academic subject.

About Xilitla
Edward James built one of the finest examples of Surrealist architecture of the 20th century known as Las Pozas, Xilitla. It’s origins  date back to 1947 when Edward James acquired a coffee plantation near Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, – now known as Las Pozas – registering it in the name of his friend and guide Plutarco Gastelum, a Yaqui Indian that would later become James’ construction foreman. For the next fifteen years James planted  in excess of 20,000 wild and rare orchids, and created a sanctuary for exotic animals. Following an unprecedented frost in 1962 which destroyed many of the orchids James started building large concrete structures. The design of these structures was inspired both by the orchids and the vegetation of the Huastecan jungle. James invested much of his time and considerable wealth in Las Pozas, employing many local masons, artisans, and craftsmen. By the time James died in 1984, he had built 36 concrete sculptures, spread out over more than 20 acres of lush tropical jungle.

In 2007 ‘Fondo Xilitla’ acquired Las Pozas, with the purpose of conserving the structures and protecting the surrounding land and gardens. Fondo Xilitla was created by the Pedro and Elena Hernández Foundation, one of Mexico’s best known and most active charitable organizations, with support from the government of San Luis Potosi and CEMEX, the worldwide cement and infrastructure company. Fondo Xilitla is a non-profit charity in Mexico and is establishing charitable (501c3) status in the United States.

Recent Projects 

  • Edward James in Mexico: History, Context, Legacy Symposium, October 2015
  • University of Sussex, MA Curating student placement
  • George Charman Artichoke House, West Dean Artist in Residence 2014
  • The Pavilions of Edward James  Lecture by Dr. David Stent as part of Melanie Smith exhibition at MK Gallery 2014
  • Melanie Smith Xilitla,artist talk at West Dean College, June 2013
  • West Dean Student residencies at Xilitla 2008-2010
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