so it made for an even more emotional day! much pressure on to finish the work for exhibition on friday, the folks who all came with days are broken up with many visitors and interviews, and paint paint painting as fast as i can got a new style because the acrylics dry out so fast. MUch to say about art and the attitudes here but it will wait. Tonight at 3am we are meeting some of the others to go for a walk to see the sun rise, one lady will be wearing her traditional tartar costume, so it should be another mind blowing experience in a week of them. Not getting enough sleep, too much socialising, and no time to wind down, still the brain, too much going on in head.
meanwhile heres some things I wrote over the last couple of days- more as soon as I get time;
Much cooler today, not enough sleep as there is no time to wind down, no time to process, and so much input, information, inspiration stimulus.
As we were not clear what a symposium even was, we didn’t realise we would need to plan, I guess the normal UK approach would be to react to circumstance, arrive & see what happens then create as a result of that. I was up to my eyes in the usual ‘commercial’ work, representational work ( painting by numbers ). I thought it would be okay, I’d be able to access something even though its very rare that I am allowed to draw from my own inner inspiration, I suppose I thought there would be more time for development work- and as usual I would ‘wing it’. so once everyone got set up in the studios we have realised that they are all preprepaed with designs. I also thought they wee looking for a more artistic abstracted interpretation of the broad theme on epics, but we have some quite specific interpretations of stories and myths, people were all rigged up canvases ready to go. A bit of a shock to the system then! To quickly come up with something, to peel back all the barriers and blocks which have been built up at home about what is acceptable ( or more often not ).
We got talking yesterday about Boudicca, the ladies had heard of her, it seems entirely sensible fr me to come here and paint her, her of ( statistically probably ) my ancestors, her of our culture- why have I never painted her at home? So cynical so sneering of our own culture everything passe, a cliché, ‘cheesy’, kitch, always derided. Here it makes perfect sense, to explain who we are, who I am in this different culture, where I am coming from. Now I have sketched out the canvas its going to be a tough one, a mother and her two daughters, a mothers duty, fight and sacrifice for her daughters, with the lack of sleep, and vodka for breakfast ( yes we are being led astray, the foreign entertainment for the week ), it will be emotional. I will have to try & focus on history rather than my own story here separate myself which will be difficult. But still there is 3 other picture to work on at least. But here I am winging it making it up as I go along and they want a form filling in with name and size of finished work! So against the grain to count the work before it is complete. We will be getting a long interview today for articles, catalogue etc. there was already a TV interview the first day. Winging it.
Later in day-
A long very in depth interview, intense, way beyond the usual PR spin which is easy to play. Strange to explain your life in depth, from the point of view from another culture, strange to talk about the self when all of life typically for a woman revolves around serving others. I’ve been through this process of self assessment before on counselling and psychology courses. I hate to be defined by the difficulties I have overcome but there they are, close to the surface. Scratch that surface and there it is. So is Russia a place I can finally take my armour off ? What does a soldier do when the battle is won ? Art and Nature have been my touchstones, that and the ability to dream, these have given me the strength to endure . To dream of a future, of better times is how we survive. The ‘happy place’ in my mind was the steppes, to me if there is a heaven this would be it, on horse back on the steppes, travelling to Altai to find…what? Why are we drawn to a particular dream? What was it about the tattoo art work I saw in the national geographic magazine in 1997 that made such a deep impression on me? I often thought that it didn’t matter if I ever made it to the Pazyryk region as the dream was enough to get me through the day. So when this Russia trip came up I was very excited that I was at least going to Russia which I have also always wanted to, but that I would be one step nearer to Altai- to my ‘happy place’. But it was nearer than I could have known, many of the artists here are painting scenes from the steppes, of warriors on horseback, mongol, pazyryk, Scythian, Finno-Ugric . These cultures are not just artifacts in a museum, they are still living in these artists, they are still practiced, the old religions are still alive, strong and spiritual, blended with the modern orthodox and Islam, People are not talking about these things as ancient history but now , in the faces, language and beliefs of the talented people I am surrounded by. Alex said recently when I was complaining about British consumerism that ‘shopping is the new religion everywhere’ but I feel here on these streets and with these people a spirituality that is not present at home, I couldn’t even use that word at home as it is synonymous with people selling some snake oil or spurious self help book. But here there is a warmth and honesty, openness and ….the English language seems to have lost the words for it. I think I need some more sleep to calm down my crazy emotions ! But when the warrior takes of the armour, the simple warmth of the sun on the scarred skin feels strange and vulnerable. The path that Pazyryk design has set me on is not one that the rational brain can explain, it is a spiritual journey, my instincts were right. I just hope I can capture enough of it to take home with me.