Archive for December, 2016
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Art and/as Process – Biodiversity residencies (part5)

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Living in a cloud forest fluctuated from looking at the clouds above to looking through the cloud you were in. Opportunely, on my second day of having the whole reserve to myself Ra came out in full regalia. Out of the two weeks I have been here at Un poco del Chocó this was the second day of seeing the sun for more than a few minutes. After feeding the chickens, dogs, and fish and having completed other chores I set out on a long walk of exploration and documentation.

     I got back early in the afternoon, and decided to try out making green banana pancakes (aka. placki, aka. ladkas.) It took me about forty five minutes to grate six large green bananas to a pulp. I added some pepper, salt and oil, mixed it up and started frying.  They stuck to the pan more than I would have liked and took much longer to fry then their potato version but in the end they came out quite tasty and vegan to boot.   While struggling a bit with frying the pancakes I already had all the ingredients simmering in a pot for a Borscht.

     Satiated, I climbed the stairs to the second level of the volunteer house where our bedrooms wore located. Sitting on the deck with my watercolour setup beside me work resumed on one of the paintings started early on in the week. The balcony looked down at where a relatively small tree fell having been pulled down by lianas a few nights before. It brought down other small trees with it, creating a rich mangled crash site of branches, leaves, vines and ground plants. A fairly complex landscape perfect for practicing controlling my brush work.

     There was a second location which I considered painting from that day. It was from a veranda of what seemed to be an abandoned and decrepit house about five minute walk from the reserve. It had a roof so rain wasn’t an issue and the patina on the wood added to the vibe of the structure which I found stimulating for painting.  The view offered was a road which divided the land into the reserve (on the right) and a farm (left) contrasting two very different states of what the land can be: on the one hand managed for specifically human use and on the other left mostly to itself so that it and many life forms could thrive. It was a great place to contemplate change but today I opted out for no more trips outside.

    After an hour or so on the balcony I took the opportunity to work on a quicker painting from Willo and Nicol’s front porch. The dogs were there, a comfortable bench and a view of a green rolling valley. Halfway through my paint session, the clouds began to envelop the area. Their bosom was trimmed in darkness, signalling impending rain. Slowly but surely they approached, cascading over the treeline, spilling into the curvy hills and garden, crawling across the road and stones like a mist from a magical forest. The rain came as Chocó fused with the cloud yet again. Everything softened becoming mysterious and damp. The world, yet again, contained in the breath of the jungle.

     I led the dogs back into their pen. Yoga loved to herd us through the trails and swim in the river while Klecks preferred to keep watch at main base. He had a tendency to jump in excitement a good half meter into the air when food was being brought over. Both weren’t too crazy about going in for the night but did so without protest. Having packed up my gear I moved back to the volunteer’s house.  By the time I warmed up some green banana pancakes and borscht soup the rain was drumming a dull steady beat on the wooden roof. The night shrouded everything in darkness and it wasn’t even eight o’clock yet.

     After reading and writing under the flowing candle light, having opted not to use the solar powered lights, I decided to retire thinking about the images I took and what was it about them that interested me…what connections could I make between them? Could they be used to comment on the relationship between humans and the planet? There were lots of questions which eventually dissolved as I entered the dream world.