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.

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