Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Wednesday 18th august,

Last night caught up with rich on skype for the first time since my adventure, so strange to hear and English ( irish ) voice! Lovely and strange to be so far away,  so much to convey. Wi fi was a pain, up too late trying to upload some of the many hundreds of picrtures, then sleep until 2.45am, we had been invioted to go fr a walk to see the sunrise, we met at 3am at the hotel, three of the English speakers and 3 of the Russian speakers. It was a perfect clear starry night, cool crisp air made a pleasant change from the stiffling heat we have become used to.

Around 3.30? We heard the call to prayer from the main mosque echoing through the city, venus shone down, first glimmer of dawn through the birch trees   venus shining down, deserted streets except some road sweepers, by hand cleaning with short brooms. We walked at a brisk pace for a good 45 minutes to the Bulgar tower, sky yellowing, mists rising from the Kama and Tolma ( toima? Ap ), a dredger grinding away relentlessly in the Tolma, barges avoiding the large rocks where the rivers meet, one story about where Yelabuga got its name is connected with this large rock. To the West the lights and gas flames of  Nizjnekamsk, to the south Neberezjnye Chelny where our flight came into the other side of the massive river Kama. The north, the direction we had come looking through Birch woods to the new city, the Mosque tower over the white birches.

 In front of us to the East the old city of Yelabuga where we work, sky lightening up. We were at the site of the old bulgar fort, nearby a wonderful statue of the first man who formed the city. We drunk a little wine, played a little music, took many photos,  mostly with Shinod in! one of the gentlemen with us ( unfortunately it is very difficult to remember so many strange sounding names when the are written in Cyrillic as well ) he dressed up in tartar traditional dress and posed with the sunrise at the ‘devil’s tower’ . there was a Big shooting star behind the tower. A sleek tabby cat came and spent the dawn with us. We have been communicating in pigeon words, funny noises, silly faces, sign language and enactments, which makes for much hilarity , “  rarr rarr Loch ness monster da da da! Oi oi ! “ the sun rise was stunning, photos will not do justice, but just imagine the vista spread out before us. As we headed back the town was sparking into life at 6am, workers queuing for buses, more street sweepers, dogs , the sun glinting off buildings, a song of “ what shall we do with the drunken Shinod, early in the morning !“. 40 minutes half sleep dizzy, then wakey wakey a plate full of salad and fruit for breakfast and off we go again., No sign of Shinod!

Just learn that the tower was only half standing and was rebuilt in 1858.

Had to finalise the titles of the pieces I’m submitting today.
Pleased with the finished pen & ink drawing I’ve done, its away to be framed. ‘The Guardians ‘

Am ambivalent about the finished circular painting ‘Among the waves’, different to anyway I’ve painted before, combination of subject matter freedom circular canvas and the speed the acrylics dry in the heat, which has resulted in me painting in an even waterier way.

‘The journey’  is a bit na├»ve &crude, need to give it some oomph to finish. But simple enough in its symboligy people from all the cultures nod and point approval.

‘Boudicca- a mother’s duty’, is a challenge, kind of thing I’d be comfortable painting digitally, plus its figurative and I started with no mirrors photo refs or models, thinking I’d stylise it enough to avoid worrying about such things, but nope, I’m not sure what it is or isn’t- but the great thing is here it is accepted “ celtish - Boudicca! “ onwards & upwards. More relaxed today although there is still a lot of painting to be done.

It was lovely to be presented with a couple of gifts today from the other ladies in the studio, despite language barriers. Some typically Russian looking earrings, Slovenian ? Design that might be a mistranslation on my part of another Russian state, milli flori design. And the other gift a mother of pearl bracelet, because it suits me as I paint the sea, from a lovely artist Masha who paints with pressed flowers and smiles all the time.

Lunchtime Wednesday. Despite 3.5 hours sleep we are all in better humour today, after all tired and emotional yesterday. Me & Lynn are realising how much we are creatures of solitude, mountain girls who need just a little time alone each day, it was difficult trying to explain this to the other English speakers without them feeling rejected. Anyhow, chatting and laughing at lunch with Anna our translator we explored table manners of our respective countries, etiquette, womens dress & mens attitudes, class and caste systems, all very educational, in so many ways we are all modern evolving societies with the same attitudes and ways of life, in some ways though there are great differences.

later we sadly had to miss supper with the rest of the artists who were eating in the courtyard a traditional meal from I think kazakstan or Kurdistan? ( when the paintings are finished I'll spend more time with the translater getting to know the other artists! ) - we had an appointment at the english group who meet once a week and were keen to have the opportunity to talk to us. It was completely surreal, they have seen about us and the symposium on the news every morning, they are all keen to get their photos taken with us, and so good at english!  sleep deprivation was by now making me gabble, but talk about being treated like royalty or celebrities, every time we turn the cameras are on us, given the lack of sleep! I wish these folks could afford to come to Scotland, it is horrible that we are seperated by economics and visas, but prehaps its is this seperation that has preserved this place to be as pure and honest as it is ?

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