SB

The experience of an Art Resident in Riberalta

At last, I was arriving in Bolivia – it was easy enough to make the decsion to leave London for a month considering it was winter time there and it was a long-held dream of mine to travel to South America. I felt the first waft of heat as I arrived at Riberalta airport to be met by Sasha and Erik who whisked me off to the nearby house where I would be staying.

A room and bathroom with a separate space to work – what more could I want to spend my time and to create some paintings? A large kitchen and a beautiful courtyard with palm trees became the focus of gatherings as the house gradually filled up with other visitors from Australia, Spain, Chile and Bolivia. We were all there to contribute our skills in some way to the aims of SB and the local community.

Erik and Sasha came to the house frequently with plans for various activities and volunteering opportunities, and we could contribute other suggestions we might have. The local Mercado San Jose became the destination of choice after the 8am Tai Chi session to see if there were any avocado to be had or, better still, papaya. You could find plenty of fruit, veg, bread and rice to make into meals and, depending on the time of year, an abundance of certain varieties. For meat eaters there were plenty of local restaurants who sometimes also served fish dishes.

During the month, I visited a beautiful lake, travelled on a small boat filled to the brim with passengers and their motorbikes where I saw eagles, herons and a small crocodile, stayed at the Pisatahua retreat in the jungle and went on a trip to Brasil. My creative output was slow to start as I made connections with my new surroundings but I achieved a small body of work by the end of my stay. The residents at SB need to be Spanish speaking and I couldn’t contribute as much to the community as I would have liked because I arrived without a working knowledge of the language. A Spanish speaking artist- in-residence, perhaps working from nature, would be ideal to stay at SB where there are many lovely plants, trees and, of course, the jungle. Riberalta is a thriving, busy town – family orientated and friendly – and inspite of conditions and a way of life for some that may seem poor and in need is, I felt, in reality, full of joy.

Following graduate and postgraduate studies in Fine Art I completed a Masters Degree in printmaking in 1998 and I have shown my work in many solo and group exhibitions in the UK including the Royal Academy Summer Show, New Hall College, the Barbican, Lynn Painter Stainers Prize Exhibition, the National Theatre and the Contemporary Art Society. Forthcoming exhibitions include the Bankside Gallery and the London Original Print Fair.

I am an elected member of The Royal Society of Painter- Printmakers and awards include Chhaap Foundation Residency, India, Cork Printmakers Residency, Ireland, Fundacion Valparaiso Residency, Spain, GX Gallery award, Winsor & Newton Watercolour Prize, Eaton Fund for Artists and the Oppenheim-John Downs Memorial Trust Award.

My work is in collections including University of the Arts, Murray Edwards College, Southwark Art Collection, Cork Printmakers, Southampton City Art Gallery, Chhaap Foundation, Morley College, Lady Margaret Hall Oxford, Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge and Ashmolean Museum Oxford.

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