I am incredibly lucky that I can survive off of making art. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is traveling. I feed off new environments, people, languages, food, and find that being in a foreign place inspires me, automatically. The process of navigating your way from point A to point B will always provide food for the soul and will in turn change the shape and style of what is made, shifting from a large wall mural to a simple line drawing in a sketchbook.
The Jaunt is an amazing project. The idea is simple: send an artist to a new place and ask them to make work that responds to their experience. Of course I jumped at the chance. I was given two options and initially chose Serbia, a completely random decision. While the curator, or as he prefers to be called, travel planner, accepted my decision, he then explained my second option was to travel to his home in the Danish countryside where he and his family would host me. The house was a mere five minutes from an empty beach. It was a no-brainer. It had been an incredibly full-on year so far and the prospect of spending time in the countryside and having meals cooked for me seemed like the perfect remedy to my recent experiences in London and Amsterdam, which were far from peaceful.
My busy city brain is not used to this and it moved me. The whole trip has moved me.
I am writing this now on the last night of the trip. Time seems to have slowed down, even stopped at points. A complete contrast to the neon, never-ending buzz of cities of which I’m accustomed. Last night I recall sitting alone, slightly drunk on Danish beer, resting on the steps of the traditional Danish wooden house. I could hear so little and so much. The noise of traffic and beeps of electronics had been replaced by tree top breezes and the soft crashing of the ocean half-a-mile away. My busy city brain is not used to this and it moved me. The whole trip has moved me. The hospitality and love has been humbling, spending time with the couple’s 9-month-old baby and even celebrating the host’s 30th birthday.
Watercolours and painted pebbles have replaced the recent explosions of spray paint and bright white spaces of contemporary art galleries.
I can’t remember being so relaxed, especially while at work – a new experience for me indeed. A calmer force has guided the work I made. Watercolours and painted pebbles have replaced the recent explosions of spray paint and bright white spaces of contemporary art galleries. Mother Nature has been making eyes at me, offering hints and traces of a much softer approach to rendering an experience. There have been many insights into nature and in a way I did not expect, both in my work and in myself. Even this evening presented the gift of a mother deer and her two fawns grazing on the path we took back from the beach. Maybe there is something in the Danish water, or the beer? But I have re-familiarised myself with the natural world. Only using my phone to play music, not that the area has any reception or Internet even if I wanted it. A true reminder of the basic things, an economy of tools and materials and a look into nature, to feel and see the richness in the plants, animals, weather and landscapes around. I hope this attitude continues. After all, London has a lot of nature, but perhaps I needed to detach myself from the bright and shiny distractions to help me focus on it again.