Vivienne Whiffen

Vivienne Whiffen was born in England and has lived in Spain on and off for more than 40 years. She came to Gaucin with her husband in 1985 and lived there from 1992 until 2015 when she moved to Estepona. She studied photography full time at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design, and also took a number of City and Guilds photography courses. She has taken part in both solo and group exhibitions, and was a founder member of Art Gaucin. She works with a variety of cameras, mainly in black and white but recently exploring the possibilities of colour. She no longer has a darkroom, but prints her photographs herself digitally in limited editions of (usually) 10. This enables her to keep the print quality consistent.

Q: How would you characterise your work?
VW: A tutor once told me that practically all my photographs have a feeling of isolation. I do have a few photographs that include people but probably more of desolated, quiet, empty landscapes. A photograph that perhaps best captures this feeling of isolation is this desolate landscape of the Alentejo. My 2005 journal describes my perfect subject:

TEXT-PIC-HOUSE-OF-THE-DEAD-TREE-WITHOUT-THE-TREEW“To Almodovar. Barren hillsides dotted with occasional trees, abandoned farmhouses in ruins. As I climbed the hill, scratchy with dry grass, to explore, a rabbit scuttled across my path.  Desolation. The white scattered bones and the skull of a sheep among the fallen stones of the farmhouse walls. John saw bee-eaters, I saw a bunny”.

Q: Many of your pictures capture or document daily life in Andalucía. What do you look for when you photograph Gaucin and other Spanish villages?


VW: I don’t think I look for anything in particular, although silent empty streets at siesta time where one gets the feeling of extreme heat are very appealing. Village faces, too. Anything traditional, on its way to being lost. The texture of buildings layered in cal. Shadows.



Another example of an empty street. During Semana Santa in Sevilla I came across this shop window. The sombre, shuffling processions had just passed leaving only some litter, an echo, a slight melancholy. The perky little First Communion frocks seemed to be waiting their turn. I think they have a poignant presence.



The Easter Sunday bull run is one of the highlights of the year for the people of Gaucin. Whatever one feels personally about the treatment of the bull, it is a tradition here and I photographed it (on film) in the late eighties.  I probably wouldn’t take photographs now.

Studio visits welcome by appointment

Address: Estepona
Tel: +34 692 386 030 (mobile – year round)
+ 34 951 31 84 31 (landline – October to May )