Playhouse Arts Residency, Tasarte. Week 2/5

Playhouse Arts Residency, Tasarte. Week 2/5

During week 2 we had visits from other creatives, who also happen to be our off-spring and friends! My youngest daughter Buki who is a musician and art gallery apprentice, my niece Ayo who is a music journalist and travel blogger, with one of her close friends Fay who is a textile designer accompanied with her 2yr old son Finlay! I will add in some quotes from the feedback they gave about their stay during the residency. I enjoyed their presence along with the energy and different perspective they all brought to situations. My niece particularly inspired me to be more confident with my driving which was exacerbated by my anxiety and need for safety. It was OK that I was nervous, it was ok to take a bend in the wrong gear and even regular drivers also make those mistakes.

During week 2, I put in place a daily routine of chanting and tapping to alleviate the negative mental chatter and overwhelm I was experiencing. I began to feel more settled, grounded and safer in the space and as a result, found myself opening up to respond more fluidly with what I experienced around me.

Week 2’s guests thoughts on ‘play’:

BUKI: I’m upset i couldn’t stay a bit longer and explore a bit more, but there’s always another day, another time. As we get older we lose what it means to play. It’s also about learning and discovering things about yourself as well. I think it’s great that you [Ekua & Folami] are taking time out to, to play. Which i think a lot of people, they go on holiday and stuff, but its not the same.

FAY: new and interesting; slightly challenging in some ways being closer to nature than usual but the views are amazing – inspiring i guess, because it shows you different things; its inspiring to hear why they [Ekua & Folami] come here in such a secluded spot to find a new ‘breath’ in their art journey; Findlay’s loved the outdoors and getting dirty. Yes, its been a really good experience!

FINLAY: Cheese!

AYO: Play is doing something you enjoy and having fun. As a child it was playing with my Barbies. Now it is going out having a laugh with friends, having a bit of time off, not worrying about the time. Work can be play if you get the right job, so that’s the aim. I’m creating a life with more time to play! I find being creative playful, doing art playful.

IMG_0124
Mumzy and Buki hanging out by the beach in the town of Mogan
IMG_0127
The sky brought a beautiful sunset every day. It was like being surprised with a gift by a lover every evening!
IMG_0152
‘Reclaiming My Being’ selfie photoshoot. My body, self-made banana leaf and my muse, dead aloe.
Version 2
‘Reclaiming My Being’ selfie photoshoot. I was having THIS MUCH fun! 😀
IMG_0182
‘Reclaiming My Being’ selfie photoshoot. My body and self-made banana leaf rope.

This 3hr ‘Reclaiming My Being’ photoshoot had a profound effect on me and my relationship to my body, which has changed in size and functionality after 2 years of physical illnesses (partially dislocated hip then virus infection leaving me with permanently swollen feet, some of which has reduced only after 2 years), mental burn-out and emotional shit-storms. I spent the time alone with my Canon 1300D and tripod playing with my muse and self-made banana rope. As a naturist, I have always been comfortable in only my own skin and do not mind the intrusive curious gaze of others. Yet stripping myself bare in all my vulnerability at a time in my life when I am at my most vulnerable physically, mentally and emotionally is very significant to me. As an agendered person I have always struggled with how I ‘should’ look, how my body ‘should’ function in order to be accepted in the life the world said I must lead (as a woman) and I desperately wanted to feel accepted in because I knew of no alternative. I was never comfortable. I was never satisfied with myself due to the tension and conflict this brought to my sense of self. I had no words to describe the torture of this until I opened up to my queer non binary friends. Its not body dysphoria because my body is not the problem. How it is gendered, categorised and policed by my culture and wider society is the problem. I am learning to love how I have become, visible and invisible ‘flaws’ and all. It’s all good. It’s all beautiful. Even when i feel unfit, old, ugly and not enough. I’m openly sharing my vulnerability here because after spending most of my life living in conflict with myself, I now celebrate my wholeness, even though the world is yet to accept me as I know myself to be: Agender. Being. Me.

Seconds after my lovely daughter asks if the fruit is edible, she bites into it, causing lots of tiny cactus spikes to embed in her lips! Poor thing! She did discover later that by soaking the fruit in warm water allows the fine spike to come out. It took a while, but we plucked all the fine needles out her lips in the end.

Myself and Buki strutting some South London style on the dusty beach road. Video taken by Ekua Bayunu.

IMG_7140
Oh the variety of colours in the rocks on the beach!

Our day trip to Mogan gave us the opportunity to enjoy a more touristy setting and an easy to navigate sandy beach with calmer waters. Glad we’re not staying here for the full 6 weeks though!

IMG_7155
So much beauty and diversity in just the cacti!  Numerous ideas for carving pots in this one shot alone 🙂

Beginning to enjoy the varied delights of mountain life and dramatic interactions between mountains and clouds. The clouds sometimes come down to your level.

IMG_7172
Clinging on for dear life. The shrubs are inspiring in their determination to keep thriving!
IMG_7255
Wearing my golden yellow passion fruit like its jewellery. Who needs diamonds when your’e surrounded by such rich delights of nature!
IMG_7292
Pioneer trail. Shadow on the road from the beach.

How I made rope (featured in the ‘Reclaiming my being’ photoshoots) from fallen banana leaves I gathered on my walk.

Digging the dry arid soil looking for clay. My ‘tool’ is an old bent pipe I found on the beach. I never thought I’d gain so much fun from just digging! 😀

IMG_7328
Realising this island is pure rock and dry dirt, I decide to work in reverse and sieve the art dirt then wet it in the hope to make something budlike to extract clay from. Not feeling very confident at this stage… (more clay making in week 3)

Playhouse Arts Residency, Tasarte. Week 1/5

A year in the planning with fellow artist and sister Ekua Bayunu, we were joined by other creatives during the 5 week artists retreat in the tranquil farming valley of Tasarte, in South Western Gran Canaria. Here is 1 of 5 blog entries taking you on a visual journey of each week.

Week 1.

Needing and finding safety.

Settling in, grounding.

Why am I here again?

Plans out the window, welcome in self care.

Curious and exploring with my inner child.

City ‘being’ meets nature.

IMG_6896

This is part of the beach where we played most days. Atlantic ocean and pebbles galore!

IMG_0016
Beautiful rock escarpments at Playa de Tasarte 15mins walk from our home. The colours change in different light.

LIGS8365

The colours, shapes, textures or the rock faces are breathtakingly beautiful. Inspiring as and of themselves!

IMG_6863
My playtime on the beach consisted mostly of arranging pebbles in various ways. It was delightful to see other visitors doing the same. There was always a scattering of pebble towers built up along the beach. Andy Goldsworthy will be proud!
IMG_6931
Black sand. BLACK SAND!!! My first time visiting a black sand beach. Its made of miniature gems and jewels. Very coarse so difficult to sand sculpt but i did my best!
IMG_7042
Black sand sculptures, totems to the past gazing out across the Atlantic.

IMG_6966

As I played on the beach (yes that’s me! Photo credit: Ekua Bayunu) I thought of past times, whether my ancestors caught sight of these islands – or even swam to them in the hope to escape  – as they were shipped across the Atlantic. This ocean holds many, many stories.

IMG_0019
Rainbow over the farmhouse, our residency home. I had to get used to the geography of the valley, now used to living opposite a flat dune. Im not used to waiting until 11am before I see the sun!
IMG_7142
The land itself brought many growth opportunities. On one stroll around the farm, I found a rusty abandoned pickaxe. I picked it up and enjoyed the weight of it in my arms. The child in me screamed “Lets dig a hole!” so I did. City boffin that I am, I’ve never used a pickaxe before. I improvised an empty tin can and bit of rock as additional tools. As I dug, it felt grounding and the well of creativity in me began to flow…
IMG_6921
I found myself very drawn to the rugged, rough, dead/decaying flora of the landscape. Feeling an affinity i think with their harsh tough prickly exterior. Armoured protection against the harsh environment. Yet inside still lies the potential of growth in their seeds.
IMG_0101
I learned that there is beauty in decay. This dead aloe had colours on it like a mother-of-pearl! I saw pinks and blues resonating from its ragged dried carcass when i hung it in the light.
IMG_0107
Can a dead plant become an artists muse?! I had a special relationship with this dead aloe…
IMG_0113
The dead aloe plant took on the role of a kind of talisman as I went about responding to the environment.
IMG_7060
We were well fed in Playa de Taste! The local tomato and garlic salad was delicious! As a vegan there was still a lot of the local fare to enjoy.
IMG_7077
The evening star (bright spot in top right of picture) greeted us each dusk as the sun melted on the horizon. Is there such as thing as watching too many sunsets? Naaah!

Creative Mornings Day 9

image Friday 16th 30 mins

Bouncing back to my Creative Mornings. Well, more like crawling. The past few days, my routines have been disrupted by final clearing of my apartment ready for builders then packing a suitcase out of which I will live for the next 2-3 weeks. I’m not used to this. Holidays and short trips are fine, but it’s a challenge making a temporary base in the homes of others I don’t know very well, who have offered to put me up out of sheer generosity and their beautiful hearts. My faith is enabling me to win through my doubts and insecurities about all this. My anxiety and stress levels are being tested yet I know I’m growing in new ways and creating new experiences for myself and those I meet – hopefully good experiences!
This morning I managed to prize my fingers away from my phone and pull out my lovely fountain pen during my commute into Amsterdam. Even if it’s just a 30min train ride, thats time enough to make it a Creative Morning😍

Creative Mornings day 8

image

Saturday 10th, 1.5hrs

After taking a couple mornings break then recovering from a bout of anxiety and sleeplessness, I’m back on the creative horse. Tackled the hand in the acrylic portrait of my son. I learned a major lesson with this, my very first painted portrait: rub out the grid lines BEFORE you begin to paint!😱😂

Bottom left image is how it looked after trying to rub some lines away with a firm vinyl eraser.

Top left I applied highlighting pens to cover the remaining pencil marks.

Top right I began painting in the form and tones of the hand, doing my best to conceal the white pen marks. Applying the acrylic paint more thickly would have worked, but this paint is already very thin quality.

Bottom right image I tightened up the lightest edge of the fingers – where I painted in the background very recklessly – and covered the affected parts with the Pilot pen. Despite having a thin EF point, after a good shake the white ink flowed out very fast, enabling me to cover a big area.

Not bad for patching up a beginners mistake😊🙌🏾

Creative mornings Day 7

Monday 5th 2 hours

IMG_4571Today was a struggle to get started. I had ideas but couldn’t decide which medium to use. Began with charcoal then used watercolour as I was looking at figures painted in watercolour the night before. Working from just my imagination (so excuse the weird proportions!) I wanted to capture bodies experiencing the pleasure of just being. 5mins into the watercolour painting, I remembered about the need to stretch the paper beforehand. Lol!😂  I also need a smaller easel where i can lay the board more flat. This standing easel was fine for these small studies but it was still a challenge stopping the watery paint from drooling down the page! The water-like backgrounds came as an afterthought. As I painted, I began thinking of the pleasure I get swimming clothes-free in the sea. The sensation of the water flowing over my skin and how alive my body feels. These are just preliminary sketches for ideas, to develop further. I will need a place where i can go study some sea creatures. Is there something like the London Aquarium in The Netherlands?

Gremlins were on my shoulder the whole 2 hours. I ignored them chattering in my ear, but didn’t allow them to influence me. It slowed me down somewhat, but I did not give up. Thats the key I realise. Keep doing the thing! 😉

Went to art shop this afternoon and bought decent erasers and white gel pens for highlighting drawings. Taking a couple days break before I do day 8. Watch this space!

Creative Mornings Day 6

Sunday 4th, 3 hours work.

Spent first hour completing pencil sketch portrait. Here’s what I learned from doing this drawing:

  • keeping going kills the gremlins.
  • paper texture is REALLY important when working with pencil.
  • I need decent erasers!
  • Its ok to decide a piece is complete even though it’s unfinished.

Next 2 hours I returned to a portrait painting I began about 4 months ago. I’m not used to painting on this scale, nor with brushes. I’m persevering to complete this painting though as I know I am learning a lot through the process. Painting is something that cannot be hurried!

 

In todays 3 hour session I paused to make some sketches and notes for another big project idea. Even though the work I’m making during these creative mornings are not part of the bigger project ideas I have, working in this way is oiling the wheels and revving up the engine. I’m seeing it like the daily work outs and training sessions, preparing me for the big marathons. Those I will begin when I have my work room set up by mid October. Until then, I will continue with these small projects. I feel much more confident about my abilities as a whole after just 1 week of doing this Creative Mornings exercise!

 

Creative Mornings Day 5

Saturday 3rd Sept 2.5hours work.

This morning I set up my easel. I was resistant since I moved over a month ago thinking it’s not worth it, I won’t have time to do anything worthwhile. Well my lesson learned today is using this way of working – spending 1-3 hours making art first thing in the mornings – I get shit done!!!

My living room has double aspect Windows making a perfect light filled corner for working. I astounded myself with the quality of my drawing! Not sure I can express the transformation I experienced today. Despite making art and good drawings of many things, from a young age I convinced myself I was shit at drawing portraits. Not sure what happened for me to entrench this belief so deeply in my psyche but it runs DEEP! Maybe being constantly told ‘But it doesn’t look anything like person A’ or highly critical art tutors. Photo realistic drawings made me highly uncomfortable (sheer jealousy I think!), entrenching the belief in my own inabilities. Well something seems to have shifted in the past year. About a year ago I started nervously to draw selfies my friends had taken. I resumed this a few months ago by starting s painting of my son. It’s still unfinished but it revealed to me that I can push past my deeply entrenched lack of self belief. This morning watching the sketch of my baby daughter unfold, it took my breath away! I just couldn’t believe I’m the same person drawing this who spent decades believing that I could never draw a portrait to this standard.

The technique of scaling up I’m using and working from smaller studies, predates the invention of the camera. It’s used by countless portrait artists over the years whether using studies, photos or live models. Kehinde Whileys huge paintings are made from scaling up photos.

Technique, modern technology and quality materials produces nothing of any value if the hard work of ‘practice, practice, practice’ and endurance is missing.