Open Studio 2015: The Journey continues (even) when I feel the earth moving under my feet

I am back ! After almost two months of not writing in this blog, I finally have reunited my soul and my writing… time has piled up and how I have missed to write in the blog! It has taken me a while to come back, because I have taken time to “realise” the journey -emotional and geographical- of the last weeks.  The impact of a very beautiful opportunity to share with my elderly parents at home, who came to visit from Colombia, and the way in which you realise the way that roles change: from being looked after to care for them (albeit they are still able and independent), and to accept that time flies, and that grounds that you take for granted are shifting. Together we also had some holidays navigating by the Baltic cities, a feast for the senses!  Yet, after two weeks of sailing, I discovered I am not really a “mermaid”, I’d prefer the solid ground, but I know also that when everything is shifting and moving, it is also creating new paths and possibilities.

Indeed, this post is about changes and when “I feel the earth moves under my feet” either by choice, as when traveling and moving, but also, when things change in your environment, either internally or cosmically.  In particular, this blog is dedicated to my dearest friend and creative partner: Romas Malevicius, who will start a new job in the far north; and also it is written to some friends who are facing situations that seem difficult, yet, they are tests for their development and growth.  As my lovely brother said to me this week, when going through certain situations one can ask: “Why is this happening to me” (Porque?), but a more useful question is “What can I learn from this? (Para que?)

For me this year has been all about exploring paths, weaving threads and taking some risks. It is been already two years of my “coming out of the artist closet”, a decision that initially aimed at distancing myself from my academic practice, yet, both areas of my life are constantly overlapping and feeding each other. All these feelings come together at this moment of my life, when I am preparing my second Open Studio (September 26/2015). A good time to clean and to make sense of what has been my journey and what I would like to share with my collectors, friends and colleagues visiting me in my own habitat. As you know, the studio itself has been the spark to “come out” and to put everything together, since my early love affair with botanical illustration and ethno-botany in the 1990s toward more adventurous experiments with acrylics, oils and mixed media, to my recent incursion into conceptual art, installations and performance, with RawTag in 2015. This is all part of the journey, a search of meanings and messages and ways of expressing them: Carmen Lamberti, eco-artist and my wonderful partner in RawTag, has called that navigation through meanings and symbols: the thread of a semionaut… the word unites the “semiotic” with the “nautical” and it could not be more appropriate for the moment in which I feel that I walk not on earth but on water. This has a direct experience with my holidays navigating the Baltic cities, but also the fact that at this juncture of my life, I cannot say with certainty “I am this… or other”, I feel navigating between the realm of education, the universe of art and the intense task of living, oceans and currents and rivers of possibilities moving and flowing all the time.

 

Series “Our Garden of Everyday” Giclee printings on watercolour paper. Available for sale.

Copyright. Beatriz Acevedo

The first postcards of my journey come from the collection of botanical illustrations of “Our garden of everyday“:  they link my nascent love for gardening and my old established interest in ethno-botany and the initiation of my artistic journey. As I have shared before, it all started with my epic journey to la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in 1991 and my encounter with anthropologist Martha Prado and biologist Nelson Pinilla, when I re-kindled my love for drawing. Their pioneering work on the use of plants by indigenous communities in Colombia has inspired me to find out more on what plants mean for our contemporary life. Although in our urban lives we have lost the connection with the mysteries of nature, the truth is that gardens and flowers contain messages and legends waiting to be revealed, and this is my task. This is also perhaps my way of connecting my life in Colombia – as a single woman living la vida loca in Bogota, with the apparently calmer marital life of the English countryside. Apparent, because, behind each little flower there are many meanings and stories, each of them can be used to heal, communicate, enamour, seduce, gratify or acknowledge. In this botanical theme, the visitors will be able to see larger canvasses of botanical paintings inspired by the Botanic Garden in Rio de Janeiro. These also come from a journey to this amazing city in the context of Rio+20 and the climate change global conference. Funded by the university I presented our experience with GoGreen as pioneering case of education for sustainability. GoGreen has been perhaps the most salient expression of my long living commitment with creating ways to educate and inspire people to live beautiful and meaningful lives!

Series Provence: Acrylic on Canvas, 70*80 cm. Available for sale. Copyright. Beatriz Acevedo

And I am sure, you all agree that traveling is a nice way to embellish our lives… this is good to remember at this time of the year when holidays are over. But we should not despair, we have pictures and the rays of sun, and the memories shared are still inside us, transformed into colours and in my Open Studio, into sketchbooks and paintings and some little videos… the other series to be presented are related to the South of France and Provence, a place favoured by artists of all times: Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso and my master Matisse, they have all gone there in search of the light! I follow their steps and the paintings here are about light and landscapes, lavender fields and sunflowers. In that journey of 2011, we stayed in Aix-en-Provence, the city of the great Paul Cezanne. We visited Cezanne’s studio, perched in the hill, the blazing light of the summer over the landscape, colouring the majestic Mount St Victoria -celebrating Cezanne’s obsessive path to abstraction and cubism. The south of France is so particular in its culture and feeling, and in complement to the Provence’s paintings I also want to share the series Home (Casa Azul), four still lives based on plates and bric-a-brac from the South of France. The plates and objects are carefully collected and curated by brocante Johann de Feijter, in his shop in Amsterdam (Antiek58). Johann and his partner Eduardo (who happens to be my “adopted brother”) travel to the antique markets in the south, hunting for the most beautiful and curious objects, those that shape everyday lives, those that give comfort and warm, objects that make a home. This is a series of 2013, when I was going through an emotional earthquake, and I had to cancel journeys and going outs, needing to stay at home, finding comfort in the familiar objects, the quotidian and the domestic; in other words, an internal journey.

Series Frida and Me. Oil on Canvas, 60*50 cm. Available for sale. Copyright. Beatriz Acevedo

After that trying period, I started my adventure with this new life as an artist, and in order to gather the courage for starting this journey I called for help, and Frida Kahlo came, all over from Mexico, bringing colours and bravery, the magic tokens for my adventure. “Frida and Me” became a great opportunity to exhibit most of my work in the Art Nest Gallery in Hitchin and a way to reflect on her legacy for women artists. I explored five topics following the letters of her name: F, for femininity; R, for Religion; I, for Identity; D, for Dreams; and A, for Affirmation. In the series I gathered previous paintings of Frida and new portraits painted in the company and tutelage of talented portraitist Lesley Longworth. Frida & Lesley, helped me to stand my ground, keep my faith and navigate these new waters… and I must say, it has worked very well!

Series Love Zoom, oil on circular canvas, different diameters from 15 cm, 30 cm and 40 cm.

Available for sale. Copyright. Beatriz Acevedo

We are all trying to live the best way we can. Sometimes we look for role models, career promotions, or expenditures; other more meaningful ways are to be found in love, traveling, caring and giving, which are rewarding parts of our journeys through life. Traveling, -physically, emotionally, spiritually-, makes life more enjoyable. And you do not really need to travel abroad or so far… indeed, just around us, the scenery is so beautiful, the rolling hills, the sheeps as cotton spots in the green landscape, the autumn rich colours, and with them more images. The fourth series I wish to show is Zoom Love, my latest experiments mixing illustration and oil painting. The images are inspired by several drawings of the english landscape: the Cotswolds, the Lakes, or the midland shires: the diversity of English geography is astonishing, and this is reflected in my work and soul. I love being here, I feel adopted by this mythical land and its lovely people! Being in England has been the door to find love, to develop my work as educator and to find my passion in art and sustainability.  This idea of “finding my joy” has been a guiding theme for 2015 and I feel that I discovered that I sing many songs, and this year has allowed me to create a polyphonic choir merging my work as educator, my passion for sustainability and my faith in art as a way to transform lives and realities.

So, perhaps it is not that bad that the earth moves under our feet, because at the end it is all about changing, flowing, transforming and becoming, a beautiful and miraculous opportunity to reinvent ourselves and become the people we want to become!

 

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