Back home now and finally putting my feet up. It's been an intense and wonderful two weeks with the brilliant folk in Riba Roja, Catalonia, Spain. The project for me began when I was visiting my friends Sarah and Chris back in April this year. They were telling me about an art project they were involved in with the local town hall; Riu d'Art. It was to be its second year calling out for public art proposals for the village. Having never written an art proposal or created any public art in my life, I really wasn't sure how to go about it but I'm so glad I did. If you ever get the opportunity to do something like this, grab it with both hands, it's a truly great experience.
My proposal was to develop my newly acquired welding skills and so I decided to create a steel sculpture. After a bit of research I found out Catalonia and Scotland share an equine national animal as well as desire to be an independent country by part of their populations. Combining these ideas, I created a chimeralike creature composed of a donkey and a unicorn. The title to the work is in Catalan, "La Sumera i l'Unicorn" (The Donkey and the Unicorn) signifying parts of the Catalan and Spanish feminine noun of both "sculpture" - "l'escultura/la escultura" and female donkey "la sumera" as well as the masculine unicorn - "l'unicorn/el unicornio". The sculpture was formed as a steel rod frame and found objects from the village, including from a recent demolition site of two houses in the village. After a good rummage I found various wheels, wire mesh and even a coffee pot that I used to fill out the sculpture. I felt in some way it will keep a part of those houses alive as part of the village. As a side note, during the demolition of the houses, they found a secret cavern. It may have been an underground cellar but they are gong to investigate it further so it will be interesting to see what history they can find in there.
A wee pictorial synopsis of the work going on during the project and the inauguration below.
I'd just like to thank all the people of the village of Riba Roja, for their welcome, kindness and enthusiasm. Thank you to Fransesc and all at the ajuntiment for all their hard work and everything they did for us. Thank you to Albert for letting me in to his workshop, letting me abuse his tools, time and space and for all his help. To Josep, Miguel and Pepe Lu for your kindness and efforts. To all at Potas and Pizza Art, thank you for feeding us so well. To the beautiful Anna and Phil who always make the world seem so light and bring so much colour, it was great getting to know you better. To the lovely Olly Hall, who brought nonsense, fun and slight danger when climbing pylons, it was wonderful meeting and getting to know you. And special thanks to Sarah and Chris who always bring such amazing happenings together. I'm so glad I know you and have experienced all these wonderful things with you. You're beautiful people.
Was pretty exhausted when I got home late on Monday night but no rest for the wicked as I had an exhibition to put up on Wednesday. Just a small one in the 13th Note, entitled "Goddesses". Thanks to Tom, wonderful framer, for giving me a hand in with frames and Hazel for helping me hang. Had a wee soft opening last night and a good catch up with loads of mates who I haven't seen in a while. Was just lovely. The exhibition is on until the end of July so plenty of time for people to go have a gander.
So that is it. All done and dusted. Sculpture in place, workshop tidied up, flown home, exhibition up and opened and now sitting on my arse doing nothing. Think I'll do this for a little while...
The only thing missing at the moment is an ice cold mojito. Lying by the Riba Roja d'Ebre local outdoor swimming pool (in the shade) I am trying to contemplate the words for this blog entry my Rui d'Art project adventure. I have had a full day of welding already, starting at 7.30am to get the coolest part of the day. Have managed to get the tail and most of the torso together. Albert gave me a good refresher and tips throughout. He tells me he has been welding since a small boy. When all the other kids were out playing he was welding and soldering so he is a master of the art. My welds have been fairly successful. As I have only had some weeks of an evening class welding experience, I knew I probably wouldn't find it too easy at first but, as Albert says, once I've done 300 I'll be perfect. I do hope so. I'll lose some welding time to the weekend so that gives me 5 complete days to finish. However that also includes the installation. Once I get to head (the most intricate part) I'm sure I'll be storming through it.
I have been known to be impulsive on occasion, not often but sometimes. It's at times like these that I start to think, why on Earth have I decided to do a time limited big project, in a country I don't know the language, making something using a technique and materials I'm barely familiar with? But then I think it's because I love it. Making things has always been me. I've always loved learning new things too. So what if I'm not sure what I'm doing, I'll make damn sure I produce something. Something I'm proud of and learn a lot along the way. That's the thing about art and creation. Unless you're producing something that has a specific function that requires precision and expertise like a building; art is organic, changeable, it can also be functional but it doesn't need to be. So as the artist, I can produce anything I like. If it's different to what I set out do, well, that's my prerogative. So many people are good at bullshitting and selling the audience the idea that that was what they wanted all along. Me, I'm no good at bullshitting, I'll apologise for something before it's happened (very Scottish) but the working with and adapting with how a project moves is the only way to avoid insanity. I have a split in myself between perfection, precision and the aforementioned spontaneity that includes going with the flow. It definitely helps with any frustrations. In saying all this, I am planning to get the project done as I had intended. This is just my disclaimer. A must for everyone.
But back to the pool. It's not very busy but there are a bunch of kids playing in the pool and there are some adults sunbathing and chilling. There is a mixture of Spanish/ Catalan and English voices. There is a steady amount of English ex-pats here and they all seem fairly well integrated. It will be interesting to see what the next episode of the Brexit saga holds for them.
I haven't been in the pool yet but wanting to leave the inticing cool waters until I am thoroughly drenched in sweat on this sun lounger. The sun is moving round making the edge of the shade inch closer to my ever so pale body. Sweating is part of the deal here. Rehydrating is a must so I constantly have a big bottle of water wherever I go. I sweated so much this morning the dye of my headscarf that was acting as a sweat soaker upper stained my forehead blue. I think I got it all off.
So meeting Oliver, the next artist to arrive, this evening, then dinner and the Devils. Quite a full day.
Yes, there's going to be a new gallery space in town. Specifically, in Renfield Street right round the Drury Street Bar & Kitchen and owned by the same folks. It's a great, bright split-level space in the centre of Glasgow. The Opening Show, curated by artists Jeff Edwards and Jenny Robertson, will have a great mix of painting, photography, drawing as well as sculpture and glass. I personally have three pieces that will be on show and hope you can come along for the opening night reception on Friday 2nd October, 6-10pm. If you can't make it Friday, don't worry, it's on for the whole month of October with a planned liberal sprinkling of artist talks and music events throughout the month.
I'll be doing my wee share of invigilating so do drop in and say hello. Also contemplating doing a talk so I better get my thinking cap on for what to say if I decide to do it and the slots haven't been all taken up!
Here's the link to Facebook event with all the details you could possibly desire...
Jennifer Kilgour is an artist and maker specialising in model making, sculpture, painting and drawing.
She also loves making other things like wee animations (trained in that and everything), small coffee tables (singular) and walking the family dog in the woods.