Silk and sun in Soller
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
on Tuesday 28th October 2014
Photograph by RACHEL FOX
The story of Soller’s textile past is told in many places including Soller Museum .  The factories that toiled away for 24 hours a day are part of a different era and consigned to the history books of Soller.  The relics of the industrial past can still be seen on Soller streets as the mulberry trees are still here and continue to drop their sticky fruit which make the pavements treacherous.  The cocoons that provided Soller silk ready to be shipped out from the Port to France and beyond as beautiful silk products are but a memory. That is until now and the arrival of our own Silk Artist – Libby Pickett.  Libby stood at the door of Soller last year and wondered whether to come in.  A relocation with a young family is always daunting and the decision she had to make was ‘of all the places in Majorca was Soller the place for her’?  She decided that it was and settled as near to main square as it was possible to be and watched the daily theatre of life unfold before her eyes.

Libby is an artist and a lover of blues music.  Her tastes are eclectic and that is what brought her to the Soller Valley and into a world of like minded people.  Having settled the children into school and sorted the domestic side of her life out it was time to start work and out came the paintbrushes.  Yards and yards of fine silks in wonderful colours are waiting for her artistry.  She paints silk and makes the finished products into scarves and fabrics for the home.  She works with clients to design patterns to their specification and individuals to make unique gifts. There is no mass production here but one off, individual pieces every time. A stall in the Artisans Market in Soller Fountain Square on Saturday mornings shows all the work she currently has for sale.  Her new website allows customers to buy online and ship anywhere in the world.   Silk is such a light fabric that the postage rates are never that high which makes them such easy presents to send.  It is great that Silk is taking its place in Soller again – just in time for Christmas.

The glorious autumn weather has been a bonus for everyone.  Delaying the inevitable slide into cooler weather and the delivery of the gas bottles or wood for the stoves is a treat.  To have such sunshine to coincide with the influx of visitors for the UK half term with children who want to play on the beach has been a special pleasure.  Everyone smiles so much more when the sun shines and happiness is contagious so we all win.  The Hoteliers Association of the Port of Soller are claiming that this autumn has turned the fortunes for 2014 making it one of the best tourism years ever.  Restaurants and cafes in Soller City Centre are telling the same story and are in no hurry to close their doors for the winter yet.
The past weekend saw the eagerly awaited Sacred Valley Dialogues on Energy, Economy and Ecology take place in the Victoria Cultural Centre in Soller.  This was a worldwide conference bringing in speakers and participants for the beginning of regular dialogue and discussion on the real issues of our planet. The full picture can be obtained on their website  The conference in Soller is seen as part of the growth of discussion and decision making both on a community and a global level on the burning issues of our society today.  The very real possibility that Soller will be the centre of these very important discussions and conferences is very exciting. Now I have competition to the  ‘ The Hidden Valley’ brand of Soller that I promote. My friends from the conference are now carrying the ‘ Sacred Valley ’ forward as a new,  relevant ‘brand’ .  I am happy to co exist with them for the greater good of Soller!
The keynote speakers at the conference were  Polly Higgins, environmental lawyer and author. Polly Higgins is a legal expert on Ecocide law and author of award-winning Eradicating Ecocide and Earth is our Business. She speaks about Ecocide law all over the world. Jem Bendell is a Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founding Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria in the United Kingdom , which runs the world’s largest specialist sustainability MBA programme. Bendell is a strategist and educator on social and organizational change,.  Elisabet Sahtouris PhD is an internationally known evolution biologist and futurist, US and Greek citizen living in Majorca . With a post-doctoral degree at the American Museum of Natural History, she taught at MIT and the University of Massachusetts , contributed to the NOVA-Horizon TV series. She is a fellow of the World Business Academy and holds its Chair in Living Economies.
Soller was proud to host this significant conference and meeting of the thinkers of our planet and looks forward to the future dates already booked in the calendar for next year .  Soller a place of sun, sea, sand, silk and thinking this week – wow.

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