Final week at CASiS: The big rains left everything green- and oddly- red- there were many grasses on the plain that had red highlights on the nodes of the stocks- and the fallen pine needles were quite red- covered in dust from ages without rain, everything had been soft and gold in colour. Now everything zinged.
The water shortage also ceased, with water levels up in the well, but mostly it was too little too late for the farmers- grapes need water to be juicy for wine making- and late September is a bit after the fact for that.
The second group from Setba foundation was as fabulous and excited as the first to work with, but at this point the project was far enough resolved that I could not involve them in the same way for co-authorship of the work, so we spend more time outside doing small ephemeral mosaics, looking at the landscape for what it offered colour and texture wise,
and still of course the cordage making with cattail- the second group got it incredibly quickly! I could not believe how fast they picked it up- makes me wonder if my teaching it just improved incredibly, if Carla was just better at the words required to translate- or if folks were just faster learners for hand based work. Raul, who was a cordage making star the week before was back- so he was also on hand to teach too- so we did have a better ratio of students to teachers and that helped. I had tried a few words in translation for “up, away, hold thumb here” in Catala, but really it just all went so smoothly…. You never know.
Thursday we went on a walk to look at the English ivy taking over a nearby forest. I talked about what invasives are and how they are like school yard bullies in the wild- “not sharing” resources like plants that participate in the ecology do. I also explained why never to strip ivy off trees- how it harms the bark, but to just cut around the base, and to be very careful removing from any areas with slopes because of potential erosion.
We tried pulling a bit from the ground and everyone could see how hard that was with the ground so dry- even with the recent rains- even the ivy was too dry to split! Alexandro showed me the vine he used to cut and smoke as a teenager- he lived outdoors in a camp for many years- it was vitalba! The vine- a wild clematis that I worked with here in 2010- as best I could make out there was no real “benefit” to smoking it, they just did- I didn’t try….
After talking with the group I am thrilled that some of them will come back when the installation comes down in the early spring- they will help with the teardown- and take the work out to the land where the cattails came from- and stretch the work out across the rocks for it to biodegrade and catch things coursing thought the waterway- until it is actually caught up in the cattails itself. This feels right. Working indoors is a bit odd, I have enjoyed it, but am glad to know the work will go back to where it truly belongs..
Thursday night I was lucky enough to have the musicians from the LFM band who had arrived earlier in the week to play in a few concerts with David come and serenade me in the gallery while I finished my installation. It is really those moments- surrounded by friends, music and making work that I realize how unbelievably lucky I am. Jason ( NUNU) and Jason (DOC) playing accordion and clarinet had fun improving and I think some of the sounds that began in Spain will filter into later performances back in Vancouver.
Partings are always difficult- hard to believe the week went so quick- or that 3 weeks had already passed! A full day of working with the group, finishing the installation off and then the opening and concert with LFM– I asked David, Jason and Jason to play during the opening- as the music from the night before was just so fabulous in the room, and Valenti- our local “new band member” who would be playing the big horn played in the gallery as well. So many incredible people here- saying goodbye to everyone is unbelievably hard.
Culture shock of re-entry to the city was stunning- literally- I felt like I was whopped on the head trying to make my way around so much stimulus in Barcelona. Our saving grace was renting bikes to get around and going for swims almost every day, and as the week wore on I was struck by the similarity between city and country- In the country, I slowly began to create a false feeling of “knowing” : I identified plants I was familiar with, found out the Catala name for some of them, learned what the limitations and possibilities of them where, and learned a bit about wet zones and dry zones and the local river flow. In the city, I began to recognize shop fronts, window displays, dogs and owners out for walks, and the local barista at the bar up the street from our apartment- all of these are survival methods in there way- superficial methods of me being able to do what I needed to do, and feel a sense of comfort and- not quite belonging, but maybe independence… And I am struck at how easy it actually is to fool oneself into a false sense of knowing- but really, I think I could plant myself in one small part of the globe and study the land, the plants, the people, the language, the culture, the history- for a lifetime- and still miss things. I love the city of Barcelona, but if this trip taught me anything, I really am a country girl (even though I live in the city) I would much rather delve into the earth then into the shops as I make my own map of experience.