Thursday, 20 September 2012

Residency in Daugavpils

This is being typed on a friend's computer as I could not find the internet cafe in the end! It was a bit of a fiasco - I went to the University to ask where the internet cafe was, and was directed up to a classroom. On hearing voices inside, I decided not to open the door.
It's been one of the best experiences of my life! The evening I flew into Riga airport, it was raining and rather grey. I took a taxi to the airport hotel and my initial amazement at being in a new place was overtaken by sudden anxiety. I felt rather isolated in that hotel, with miles of forest all around. It was further accentuated by the strange drapes hanging from the sloped ceiling of my room. I had no view at all, only the yellowing tops of silver Birch trees.
The next day I felt more settled. I went back to the airport and had to wait about 5 hours until the minibus came to collect the artists, at 5pm. My first words to the others were, 'Did you bring paint?' It turned out that most of them did, and it's just as well because the paint shop here has limited brands of paint.
Only 4 artists were collected from Riga airport, and we went the short distance to Riga to collect some other artists who were waiting there. The bonus was that we got a walking tour of old Riga.
We began the long journey to Daugavpils at about 7pm. I will never forget that journey through endless forests and green expanses, scattered with houses of all colours. We were passed cups of Balsam, an alcoholic drink, and began to get to know each other. I realised that nearly everyone had brought laptops, and I had views of their work. I was very impressed. The journey took about three hours, and we arrived in darkness. Then we were allocated rooms, and went upstairs to have supper on the 10th floor.
The time has passed very fast, and I am rushing this piece as I have to get back to the studio, but I am going to write more another time. We all have incredible studio spaces, and every artist is working with different themes and issues. I am quite worried about my work, as it is not coming together yet - but I have two more days. What is especially nice is getting up in the morning, putting on Euronews, and having breakfast on the 10th floor, with a panoramic view of the city. Then I walk to the studio, which is only a few minutes down the road, through a park.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Residency in Daugavpils

This is the second time I have started this as the University computer I am on seemed to throw me out. So I lost all my writing! Tomorrow I will try to find the internet cafe. No one spoke English to tell me where it is.
  I am having a great, time packed time. I have a huge studio and am working on 3 paintings. Everyone is stressed as we have to finish them by Sunday! We have had our days filled from 9am till 11pm some days. last night I went to the Theatre! Now I am going to paint.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Interview on Studio Critical

I have just finished doing an interview for a wonderful blog which interviews artists about their work, practice, ideas and studios. I really loved doing this interview! Here is the link:

This may be my last post until my return from Latvia, on September 26th. I hope I can get internet access over there, and then I can write some posts about the residency as it is happening!
('Spring Valley,' oil on canvas, 40 x 30cm)

Monday, 10 September 2012


In around 72 hours I'll be in the air, and on my way to Riga. I am running around doing last minute jobs, terrified I'll forget something. There were lots of unexpected, extra expenses (when are there not, when travelling?), and I have been sorting my husband's travel arrangements too, as he is not computer literate. All of this has meant little time for painting - but the exciting thing is that soon I will have plenty of studio time!

I'm staying overnight at a hotel, near Riga airport. A minibus will collect us the next day, then it's a 280km journey to Daugavpils. We will arrive there sometime after 9pm. The next day we choose our materials and get to see our studios.

It is a big responsibility, as we have to do a presentation, and paint two canvases, but I work well under pressure. There will be lots of art discussion, conferences, lectures, and total immersion in art. I am looking forward to meeting the other participants and have already contacted a few of them via email. I am very impressed by their paintings, and can't wait to exchange ideas.

I have been asked to write a description of the residency, and my experiences, for The Jackdaw, (November/December issue) and also have just been interviewed for an artists' blog, so the residency has already sent out ripples.

It's a world away from that dark, wet January night, when I found my Axis membership had been cut. I was trying to renew my subscription to this artists' database, and found a note saying that I'd failed the review (in spite of being a member since 1999). Tears rolled down my face, and my husband rushed over to see what was wrong. He was, and is, very supportive. Since that time, I've produced a whole new body of work. So my advice to any artists reading this is: Don't be defined by rejection!
('Untitled,' black paint on paper, 29 x 21cm - 'Symphony of Choices,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 80 x 40cm)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Getting Ready to Go

I am starting to panic, as there's so much to do before I go to Lativa on 13th September, for the residency! Jobs include updating my website, re-writing my CV and Statement, and creating a CD of images of my work for a presentation I will have to give on my work.
Today I received the postcards I ordered, which promote my website address. I designed them myself, (with a full colour image on one side) and they came just in time for the residency.  I'm still waiting for some paints I ordered online. We will be given materials but there are certain colours I like to have with me. I've also ordered the largest brush I could find, because I will be working on large canvases.
I am very excited! I'm taking some sketchbooks with watercolours and black and white paintings, as I want to have reference to some recent ideas with me, as a starting point. I also need these to show during the studio visits we will have from critics and artists. But I may end up being deeply affected by the scenery of Latvia, as we will be having excursions out into the landscape, and also Daugavpils may inspire a painting. I may make further watercolours in my hotel room at night, as there will be many ideas from my new environment and there won't be time to put everything onto my two canvases. Some will be kept for my return home.
It will be so challenging. I expect it will change my work in many ways - probably unexpected ways. Being with 14 other artists in a studio is going to extend my way of working, and thinking. I still can't believe I got this residency, and I'm itching to go. I will miss my husband, of course. (He will be going to Cyprus for a few weeks.)
('Inscape,' watercolour on paper, 29 x 21cm)