Friday, September 26, 2014

Maravillosa México - part 1

360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency on the shores of the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala, was my home for one month in August this year. A beautifully decorated and perfectly appointed little casita, perched on the third floor with views of the mountain range, the lake and the Red Cross clinic, was truly a home-away-from-home. This was made even more so, by the residency patron Deborah Kruger who is an established artist from North America working in fiber, digital and installation and her partner Christian. There were two other inspirational artists on residency at the same time - Gloria Clunie, playwright from Chicago and Yen Hua, porcelain/installation artist from Taiwan.  The purpose of the residency is "to support artists, writers and musicians who would benefit from having uninterrupted time to devote to their creativity. By providing free housing and a generous food allowance, we hope that our residents can make artistic progress without the stress and distractions of daily life."

My purpose for applying for a residency in Mexico was to experience a culture which still has a living tradition of embroidery, but finding this tradition in Chapala proved trickier than I anticipated.  A lot of the embroidery found locally is made solely for the tourist market - blouses, dresses, table runners, pillow covers etc - but I met some very generous people, both connected to the residency or in chance meetings, who were able to direct me to artisan pueblos and galleries. I was also very fortunate to meet an embroiderer who I commissioned to make several Mexican flower embroideries in silk.

The residency afforded me time to relax, explore, experiment and enjoy life "without the stress and distractions of daily life", although there were many wonderful distractions which took me out of the studio and into the streets of this wonderful, and very alive, pueblo!

Here are some photos of my time spent in Chapala and surrounds: 

My casita lounge room / studio

The view from my bedroom window - local casas and the mountain

Jesus on the Lake - a huge statue of Jesus, usually surrounded
by water, but sadly Lake Chapala is very receded at present.

A beautiful meal prepared by Yen Hua 
for the residents and associates

My favourite colours from childhood on the
garden wall of a neighbouring casa

Local flora

and a local fence the same colour!

experimenting with lung forms - I call them 'Lung Flowers'
reclaimed needlework, lace pins and nylon tulle

Lung flowers floating in the window space -
with a view across the downstairs roof tiles
and beyond to the Lake and Sierra Madre (Mother Mountain)

Day of the Dead paper cuts, bought locally,
and doily brought from home, ready for deconstructing

One of a series of Day of Dead Doileys….

The front wall of the casitas with a mural painted
by a previous resident, from Japan.

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