At the start of the school year we were told about an exciting residency we could take part in in Spain. Of course when you think of spain, you think, sun, beach and cocktails! But this residency, it turns out, is located deep in the mountains of Andalucia. It is billed as an eco-residency on its website. While we had been carefully warned by out tutor Rebecca that lots of modern comforts would fall by the wayside, I don’t think any of us anticipated how frustrating the lack of phone signals (I won’t even mention internet) and the cold showers every morning would be!
But I was definitely up for the challenge. Our group was mixed in ages varying between the full timers and part timers. We all packed our sleeping bags and were on our merry way! The great thing about a location like Los Gazquez is its complete isolation. While my art practice has been focused almost solely in the urban landscape, I saw this as an interesting challenge. Many people came on this residency with ideas and projects they wanted to develop. I came with nothing but the required art book we all had to bring. The interesting thing about this residency is that it was focused on “Collaboration, Participation and Activation”.
The wonderful Anna and Lois were in charge of our residency. Before the residency even began we had many meetings, workshops and dinners together as a group to prepare us. Of course during the lovely meals we all got along like a house on fire and expected the same when we arrived at Loz Gazquez. The workshops were interesting. We began to listen to horror stories of previous residencies, that left some people emotionally scarred! At the same time we talked endlessly (well it seemed like it to me) about Collaboration, Participation, Activation. It was Annas and Lois’ way of preparing us so there weren’t too many hiccups on the residency itself. But it sort of ended up putting the fear of god into me. Those words began to haunt me in the weeks leading up to the residency!
I began the residency with some apprehensions as to how I possibly might “collaborate” or “participate” or even “activate” especially since I didn’t really know what “activate” actually meant!
The trip was refreshingly different than I expected. All that preparation was dropped once we arrived in spain. We relaxed into our collaborative work through a series of games or workshops. We were all invited to make up a collaborative project. These varied from collective drawings to a table tennis competition (I valiantly lost!). Between all the cooking preparation and collaborative activities I began to wonder if I would develop my own practise at all. What in the name of god would I make for the final presentation the day before we left?! It turns out my concerns were everybody else’s as well. After a few days though I began to relax more about the end of the week and just go with the flow.
Betty and I decided to try and make light drawings at night with our cameras. It was so much fun, everyone eventually joined in with us. I made a convincing elephant while Betty mastered the technique of drawing a house! All the while I was thinking about a potential solo project. We had been encouraged to use the land and its natural resources. All around us was mainly white rock and sand. I decided to make a stop motion film based on a little rocks journey. The idea had come from Simon, the co-ordinator and owner or Los Gazquez. He had told us to watch out for shaking rocks as it could be scorpions hiding beneath. It was a comical image and one I wanted to develop somehow. So I got my camera out and began to photograph a rock moving from a pile of rubble and looking for a wall to fit into. After what seemed like hours I had amassed about 400 photos! I presented the 20 second video at the end of the week. While the video didn’t relate immediately to any of my current practise it was fun to make a narrative out of an inanimate object. I began to see the connections between it and the objects I collect off the street.
All through the week as well Russell, our in house tech expert, showed me how to use my camera properly!! The grouped gelled amazingly well and by the end of it, bad weather aside, we had an amazingly productive week. The trip was ended with a play by Simon and Rebeccas kids. The level of organisation that went into the play and its production was quite amazing. I even got special friendship bracelets and Nutella sandwiches from the kids!
Any art interested in a residency like this, please have a look at their website: http://www.losgazquez.com/en/joya/