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...
What an amazing time I had at Riba Rocks, so much fun. I was also pleased with the photos I took and fortunately everyone else was too, so phewf on that part. If you're reading this and don't know about Riba Rocks, it's my pals, Sarah and Chris', tiny eco music festival located in their little valley near Riba-Roja D'Ebre in Catalonia, Spain. Such lovely people; met old friends and made new ones. Sarah and Chris invited me over to flaunt my photography skills by documenting the festival. I did my best and got what I thought a good flavour of the festival. There's always things you end up missing but all to work towards for next year! Such diverse music too from local and UK bands and artists. From solo guitar singer-songwriters with the likes of Carrianne Hayden, Lilac Sheer, Nic Bennett, Adrià Cid (who also makes ceramics!) and Ali Ingle; folk with Troubadour's Garden; indie with the new kids on the block Run Tiger Run, piano and vocals with Maud the Moth; bit of prog from Hysterical Injury; noisy punk with a touch of ukulele from The Cecilias; nu-metal from local band Flatware and electronica from The Horn The Hunt. After midnight the DJs took over playing House late in to the night. Phewf, think I got everyone there.
There's a little gallery on the Riba Rocks website and I've put together a few here but will put more pictures up soon.
The opening night for my 13th Note show is coming soon. Next Monday in fact. So if you'd like to join me for a wee tipple from 8.30pm on the 1st September, I'd be most joyous to see you. The Note is situated in King Street, Glasgow for those not in the know. I have a natty little Facebook event that you can invite yourselves to if you're not already there. It won't be a late one for me though as I'll be getting up at silly o'clock on Tuesday morning to get to the Prestwick airport because I'm off to the wilds of Catalonia.
My pals Sarah and Chris, who I met during my art adventure in Cyprus in 2006/7, have settled in a little valley near Riba Roja d'Ebre in Catalonia, Spain. Catalonia is fiercely proud of its heritage and has been campaigning, much like Scotland, for independence from the rest of Spain so it will be interesting to see if I get questions about our Referendum. However, I'm not going over there to talk politics, I'm going over to help out and take photos for their wee music and arts festival Riba Rocks happening 5-7th Sept. I missed their inaugural year last year so I was determined not to miss this one. There will be musicians and artists coming from the UK as well as local bands and DJs. I just hope I can do it justice, photographically speaking.
Well, enough of this blethering, better go walk the dog. She's giving me the look. Hasta la vista baby!
Sarah, Chris and Caroline
It's November already, how time flies. Just back from a great week's holiday at my friends' Sarah & Chris', place in Riba Roja D'Ebre, Catalonia. It's a lovely place, so peaceful and laid back it makes me want to slow down and just take in the view.
They've had the place now for 4 years and are slowly doing it up. It's a lovely wee hoose and quite a few acres of land, most of which is hill, with olive trees lining terraced soil. Their intentions are toward self sufficiency with solar panels galore and land full of veg patches. The good life indeed.
They are also planning an ambitious project of creating an artist village within their land. Sarah, being an artist herself and Chris, a graphic designer, want to give artists time and space to live and make work in a creative environment; an artists retreat, if you will. I'm looking forward to seeing the developments as they start to build more.
Also, next year in late summer, with the ready organising skills of Sarah's sister Caroline, they're planning to produce an arts and music festival to be held on their land called Riba Rocks. With local and international bands due to be booked, poets and writers planning readings and artists creating workshops, it's gonna be a fabulous event. I'm planning my return trip already.
I can't talk about this place without mentioning its newest residents; Tut and Khamun. They are two little kittens that were found under a manky sofa in a supermaket car park by two friends who nursed them to health. Tut was so tiny, found in a puddle and not moving, they thought he was dead. Khamun on the other hand, Tut's big sister, was very vocal, fortunately for them. Sarah & Chris were asked if they would like to take them on. As they are very rural, they can have a bit of a mouse problem, so thought why not. The kittens had only been there a week by the time I had arrived but I could see Sarah & Chris had fallen in love with them already. Well, they are quite adorable. We'll see how long it takes them to move residence from the shed to in front of the wood burner in the house during the winter.