ARTIST RESIDENCY IN CHAPALA, MEXICO
18 February - 18 March 2023
It has been a long time since I updated this blog, and a few months since my return from Mexico.
While I was there, I wrote an article for a magazine. I hope it and the photographs successfully describe the joy I felt when, following the cold and grey of a particularly bitter English winter, I was transported into a beautiful world of colour, warmth, wonderfully friendly people, bird song, and the inspirational company of other creative people.
ART RETREAT AT 360 XOCHI QUETZAL, CHAPALA, MEXICO
I arrived at Villa QQ, dizzy with jet lag on 18th February. This was to be my creative home for a month and despite the tiredness and disorientation, I was very excited. My accommodation was beautiful; a simple but lovely room, entitled “Birds, Beasts and Flowers” led out to a large plant-filled patio that was shaded outside the entrance. I wondered how I would be able to paint freely in such a lovely environment. When I realized that if I could get hold of plastic to protect the floor and request an easel and a table, I knew I could set up my studio under the covered awning. After several months of cold winter weather in Britain which made my Woodbridge studio too uncomfortably cold to work, what a joy to be able to paint outside in the glorious sunshine, with a background of birdsong and Mexican music.
This complex, close to Lake Chapala is historically known for having once been the home of D H Lawrence. All the rooms are named after the feature that they showcase and have a unique identity. Birds Beasts and Flowers is named after Lawrence’s collection of poems. The original room inhabited by the writer is on the ground floor, it is said that he wrote the draft for “The Plumed Serpent”’ in this space.
The artist's residency, https://360xochiquetzal.com, was started eleven years ago by New York fibre artist, Debora Kruger, who had the vision to offer a self-directed artists' residence, open for textile and visual artists, poets, writers, and musicians, in private, low-cost accommodation within an inspiring and beautiful location. I knew that, during my time here, I would be surrounded by like-minded creative people, and so it has proved. I have now been here for two weeks, and it has been almost too sociable; I have had to discipline myself to work in the mornings. I am still waking at 6am so I havgot myself into the rhythm of a quick delicious breakfast of the best coffee I have found in Mexico, aqua fresca, (delicious concoctions made with fruits), and a fruit salad with granola. Then I am set up to work in the cool of my glorious outside studio until about 1 pm when the sun hits my space and I am forced to pack up until the cool of the evening.
I am excited and inspired by the colour combinations here and all over the town. In this complex, yellow ochre, Indian red, and the cobalt blue often used in Morocco, (which makes my heart sing); are a vibrant
backdrop to a wealth of the most luscious and lovely flowering plants. Therefore, the paintings I am working on here, though abstract, reflect this palette and the joy I am feeling at being here. I am working on several series, and I am hoping that I shall return home with work almost ready and prepared for the forthcoming exhibition I am taking part in.
This exhibition, “THE MINDS EYE” features the work of sculptor, Lucy Lutyens, painter, Colin Slee, myself, and new to our group, an exciting ceramic artist, Caroline Fish. The exhibition will run from Thursday 25th - Wednesday 30 May, at the Artspace Gallery, Woodbridge, Suffolk.
My time here is passing too quickly and I am captivated by the charm and friendliness of the Mexican people. I am having to dig out my long-lost Spanish, from a time in my misspent youth when I lived for a while in Seville. Someone charmingly told me that my accent came from Spain! I will not want to leave in two weeks, but I hope I shall return. This experience is definitely worth the jet lag.
Below are a selection of the paintings that were inspired by my trip to Mexico: