Out of the ordinary for me- a blog entry from my first week in Spain during a residency at Casis.
Returns are funny things. My first week back at CACiS has just past- So much is familiar, the same; yet everything is different, new or unexpected. Good to see the familiar faces of the people here and the views I have yearned for dazzle my eyes again.
I forgot just how oppressive the Spanish heat is mid-day, and how the subtleties of language can be so complex to navigate… I arrived exhausted after what had felt like a hell of a long journey to get here. Ready to just stop, breathe, and take what comes. In Catalunya, as I had discovered in 2010, life is at a different pace than what I travel at normally- I was looking forward to some R and R while I figured out what I would make using the knowledge from the land gleaned in my previous visit- that was in October, this being September- I asked myself, how different could the plants really be? I should know better. The thing is, 2010 was a very wet year- this year there has been next to no rain for several months- a hard thing to get my head around for someone who lives in a rainforest on the west coast of Canada. But the plants tell the story and I have no choice but to listen. The invasive Vitalba vine, which I used in a major way last trip, is so brittle as to be completely useless this year for working in anyway. I suddenly had three weeks to learn new materials, figure out a process and plan the making of work for an exhibit that opens on October 5.
Day 3: I discovered the dead cattails and bulrush in the area usually a river bed, but now mostly dry. What fine cordage they both make! Water is at such a premium, I save my dish and wash water for use to soak my materials. Direction is a good thing, the panic that builds internally is pushed back a bit as I am reminded that this is what I actually do, I am good at this- this arriving and not knowing, surveying a landscape and seeing what is possible- what can be gently harvested that will not harm the landscape, and find out what those materials will do. Sometimes it is oddly easy to forget to just believe in the process, and in my past experiences that I draw upon.
Day 4: in talking with Roser and feeling more comfortable in where I am at, she mentions the workshops that start next week-“I had communicated with the people right?” Suddenly, I am reminded of an email from Joan, saying, “please follow up with these people, they wish to work with you while you are here” I had emailed them, but heard nothing back, and the crash of my everyday activities all summer left no time to follow up. So apparently, there are 2 groups of adults with mental illness-“schizophrenia etc” that are coming from Barcelona to work with me, expecting to harvest invasives from the forest to make sculptures- 8 days of workshops in total, the last workshop being on the day of the opening. Just when I felt in control the bottom dropped out from under me. Apparently they are all very excited, much planning has happened, fundraising and more- they just did not communicate any of this to me- my English email scared them off and that was that- but the planning to come and work with me carried on… Remember, all of these conversations happen in a mix of English, Catala and Spanglish- clarity is limited.
Day 6: A meeting today with Carla, ( my translator for workshops who I love already) and Fena who works with the group coming, has answered many questions, and I begin again to get my head turned around to the possibilities that open up with having this group engage with me in the creation of the work for the exhibit. Once more I catch my breath, adjust my expectations, and remember that this too, is what I do- engage people in the making of work in a communal way, showing techniques, teaching about looking at the land, learning what the plants tell us, finding what is sustainable to harvest- and by sharing this with others I am myself inspired and the work benefits in the end. I just gotta believe in the process…. The rollercoaster is moving too fast to jump off anyway, so just hang on and go with it. I can do this.
I will let you know how it all goes next week.