Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do Tell -The residency winds up

Milen at the Piano - Music Night

Artists in residence - (Back) Milen, Hrafnhildur, Elisa, Lilo, Rui (off in a dream, as always),
(front) Nancy, Me and Desiree

The beautiful Desiree, the draw-er from Montpellier

Last night at BebeMe at Mojacar Playa - and dancers in the background!

Showering together - Milen and Hrafnhildur take a break

The Icelander that melts hearts Hrafnhildur

Elisa and Gabrielle. Women with French names- we must be sisters!

Nancy, deep in Conversation - as always

Rui - trying valiantly to explain himslef in English, as always.

Lilo caught smiling - as always

So...what was it REALLY like to be on the artists' residency? Answer: Great! but it's a very intense experience. We were living together for 25 days, give or take a day and that's breakfast lunch and dinner. And artists worth their salt - as these all were - are individuals and reasonably strong personalities. So, I guess we were blessed that we all got along so well, although adjustments were required. Mostly by me, as the only native speaker who wasn't able to be understood (Queen's English got me no-where!). It was an interesting and unusual experience not to be understood (being anglo born and in the middle classes of my country). I was the outsider, language speaking. I had to curb my humour (unless alone with New York and Iceland, whose sense of humour mirrored mine and didn't require an explanation every which way , something I have found, kills a joke stone dead). Worse, I had to gag my opinions - no-one could understand them anyway! And I had to get used to being ignored - actually, no I didn't, as I refused to. So some words were spoken....
Work wise, I hope that I have a itch that needs scratching - I'll have to see when I get home and into the studio. At least it will contribute something to the whole, along with all the art I have seen. I also learned that I really need to move around in the landscape, not just live in it, something that wasn't as easy as it should have been, either because I got lazy and stayed working in the studio; because the mountainous country side meant that nature walks were naturally curbed and hiking up to the Pueblo doesn't count; or because the social nature of the residency took over from the art part and I was always tempted to walk with others or go where they were going. I also re-discovered sculpture and the joy in putting found objects together and giving them a new life.
I learned that poetry is very important in Portugal, France and the United States, with Bulgaria and Germany closely behind. And Australia, due to accent problems both listening and reading, although personally loving to read poetry, was left in the TV room with Iceland and a VHS! (The Crying Room - haven't seen it in years). At least the reading from David Malouf, a wonderful Australian author, poet and librettist, got a Thumbs up from New York (and an embarrassed shuffle from the rest).
And I learned what a wonderful gift to be able to spend time with other artists who all seem to talk the same movies, books, music and passion for art and who share more similarities than differences.
As the time to part grew nearer, we all began to understand what a unique experience this was to have shared part of our lives so intensely with other relative strangers, and to have become better, more tolerant, human beings, if not artists (and this remains to be seen) as a result. Muchas Gracias!

You shoulda seen that!

All Images: Rui Cóias, Vera Good Friday Procession

Here's some pictures taken by our Portuguese poet,
Rui Cóias, of the procession in vera on Good Friday.
I was helping set up for the presentation of our studio work to the locals who had expressed an interest in seeing it. A mix up landed the organised time on Good Friday, so we were committed. Four of us stayed to entertain the guests whilst the rest went on a procession hunt.
Wish I'd seen it - Great photos, Rui.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Presentation Day - Lilo Helga Gericke – Zaki

Lilo is a German Painter who works in Mixed Media. Whilst in the residency, she was working at a response to the experience, after abandoning the work that she intended to pursue whilst here. It is a very common thing in residencies, it appears, that what you thought you would work on, changes as a result of the experience. And so it has, for at least three of us.
Lilo worked with a number of images and even printed using a dried out cactus, resulting in interesting blue and brown work. And here's the results.

Valparaiso Presentation day - Hrafhildur Siguroardodottir

Gunner in front of a work in Progress

Annie, Armel, Hrafhildure and David, a British artist living in Valparaiso who exhibits mostly in Denmark.
Hrafhildur explains the finer points of her work

Hrafhildur is an Icelandic artist in residence at Valparaiso. Whilst here, she was finishing a thesis for a degree, so was mostly writing. However, she was also often seen crocheting a large black and white circle whilst the rest of us were merry making. She is an outstanding textile artists and her work is in the collection of at least two major international museums. She works mostly in recycled materials, knotting, tying, knitting and crocheting large wall soft sculptures for installations. She is also a beautiful mark maker and drawer.
Here is a selection of photos fro her presentation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Valparaiso Presentation day - Nancy Manter

nancy and Gunner, a local art enthusiast

Tom (ex GM of Dublin Opera), Mieln, Bulgarian Composer and AIR Valparaiso, and Gunner with Leslie, local Gallery Manager in foreground.

Leslie, Armel and Annie talking with Nancy.

A selection of pictures from the presentation by Nancy Manter, a New York based artist in residence here at Valparaiso. Nancy's work involves drawing in nature (sometimes with her feet, in the snow) and on car windows, which she photographs, and also uses as the basis of subsequent paintings on aluminium and works on paper.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day trip from the Funny Farm

Wild Flowers at Las Salinas

Boats in Port at Carboneras

The drive starts at the top of this hill and continues down the coast to Carbo de Gata. It must be one of the best drives in the world

White Buildings at Las Salinas evoke the abandonment of a Spaghetti Western town - although there was washing on the line!

Strange Rock Formations at Playa De Los Genoveses

The view from Los Muertos look out

Ruins spied along the way - we think it was on the road to Agua Amarga

The house at the end of the citadel ruins- looking through its doorways to the coast beyond

New York (Nancy Manter) and I hired a car and took off at great speed, glad to have a release from the routine and constant views of the residency, and because we are not just working here, but very aware of the wonderful countryside that surrounds us and very distracted by the temptation to take advantage of our chance to see it. We could stay in the studio no longer, and had a wonderful day driving in the Cabo de Gata National Park, south of Mojacar.
This is a very special part of Spain, where the volcanic mountains change in waves and dance all around, the see sparkles (it was a perfect day) and ruins, grand vistas and even Flamingos are the attraction. We visited Carboneras a port town, at the beginning of the drive to release our resident draw-er Desiree "into the wild" and continued down the coastal road to Isla de San Andreas. We took a right after visiting the spectacular view here, and returned to the Coast via Agua Amarga, which is where we think we discovered some spectacular ruins on a mountain ridge, that very few were visiting on the day. We returned the same route, and drove through the Sierra de la Higuera scenery to Fernan Perez (no signage, just a castle!) then into Las Negras (another beachside, white town with confusing signage, and back streets which announce the town but which do nothing to attract). It was then on through a number of other seaside or port towns set into the cliffs and which can be seen variously from higher surrounding hills or lower winding roads which were delightful.
Released from a Boarding school eating routine, our rumbling stomachs still told us it was 1pm and lunch time, so we headed for the nearest seaside eating place we could find. Cafe de Ola turned out to be an inspired choice, despite the rather surly waitress, as a cold Alahmbra Cerveza and exceptional char-grilled squid and french fries were just what the doctor ordered. Feeling lazy and sated, we climbed the obligatory observation hill and returned for the rest of the trip towards San Jose, then back tracked (we thought the road stopped - it did on out map!) towards Las Salinas, at the end of the Cabo and where we tried valiantly to spy the four Flamingo that had returned early in the season (I think I saw an albino one!) Strong winds, which whipped up magnificent cloud formations, kept the flamingos away, so we weren't as lucky as Lilo, our resident German artist, was a few days before.
Although the flamingos didn't show, we spied an interesting set of run-down white buildings which immediately brought to mind the theme from "The Magnificent Seven" and so were rewarded for the extra 30 mins driving at 20kph on a rough and very bumpy road.
The return trip, which is often undervalued by drivers as "been there, done that" revealed sights previously unseen or at least from a different viewpoint and was just as exciting as the way there.
We arrived in Carboneras at the rendezvous point just as Desiree was entering the cafe, so we shared a beer and a walk on the port before returning in time for another lovely meal at Valparaiso.

Drawings from the sketchbook -London and Valparaiso

Houses in the Pueblo at Mojacar

Street Scene, Mojacar Pueblo

The mountains to the East, from the square hill Valparaiso

The Thames View, London

View from the Mountain, Fundacion Valparaiso

Across to Mojacar Pueblo, from behind My studio (named "Picasso"!)

View 2 from the Square mountain, Fundacion Valparaiso

The Garden at Valparaiso - near "Pieter's Place"

I draw as a means of calming my self for later work in the studio; to remove myself from the world; to start the "seeing" process; to slow down my observation; and to train the hand to follow the eye. Here are the results of some of the more successful sketches from the residency in Spain (and one from London - it was whirlwind!)
Hope you like them!

Holy Thursday in Mojacar

I eagerly arrived at the Mojacar Church in time for the advertised 10pm start for another Easter celebration. Two wardens and a couple of parishioners wee in the church. Time for a drink in the local Jazz Bar. The Chruch bells rang at 10:30pm, I dashed to the church courtyard, and spied another ten people inside. Time to find out more about Mojacar streets at night. Found a window scene of the passion of Christ, rather like a nativity Scene for Easter.The church bells rang again at 11:30pm - this time there were more people in the courtyard and a few more inside. This looks promising - I'll stay and people watch. The young Spanish boy whose eyes lit up when talking to a beautiful girl, who demurely looked at him from beneath her gloriously long lashes: the British ex-pats with cameras ready and impatiently flashing at nothing much, so as not to waste the time; the mid-20s Guapos males posturing to women in incredibly high heeels. Some band members raced into the church, having been delivered by the local policia to the door, as the strains of music began -at around 11:45pm!
The band played as the statues swayed - a sound something like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass's "Spanish Bull" mixed with a dirge. Wonderful - but all too short. About 15 minutes. Did we miss something???

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Large Wall Drawing

In the studio - the two sets of works n paper together.

Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Valparaiso", Powdered Graphite, Acrylic Paint, Charcoal, Guache

I decided to lash out and enjoy playing in the studio. This drawing came from my musings on the checked structure of the floors at Valparaiso, and on the black and white checks of Balinese cloths traditionally adorning Temples, the attendees at ceremonies, and even political parties. I always have a need to abstract.
I had a lot of fun using new materials (Nancy supplied Powdered Graphite, and I used spray paint for the first time) and layering the marks, and was surprised how restriction of colours to black and white produced such a varied number of greys, brown blacks and even blues. In addition, it is satisfying that a restriction in materials can lead to more creativity than if everything was available. I may push this notion of layered, process based painting into a new body of work. It suits my abstract tendencies, my awareness of the placement of works next to each other and the need to co-ordinate and deliberately move the eye across the picture plane, and my love of the risk and process involved.

Friday, April 22, 2011

And two more Sculptures

Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Valparaiso - Balance"Wood, Stones, Wire, Acrylic Paint-View 1

Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Valparaiso - Balance"Wood, Stones, Wire, Acrylic Paint-View 2

Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Valparaiso - Nature" Cactus, Wood, Stones, Acrylic Paint-View 1

Image: Gabrielle Jones, "Valparaiso - Nature" Cactus, Wood, Stones, Acrylic Paint-View 2


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