It’s been only 1.5 weeks since I returned home from my 6-week artist residency in Captiva, Florida, and here I am back on a plane again. I’ve swapped my bikini and sandals for chunky pullovers and thermal socks as winter temperatures in the Netherlands are about 20 degrees Celsius lower than in Florida. Rather than showing off my tan to friends and family, I’ll be wrapped up in thermals again from head to toe.
After having been cut off from the outside world for 1.5 months, my body and mind have problems adjusting back to the cold – in various meanings of the word – reality again. During my first few days back I didn’t only have problems staying awake from late afternoon, but I think the Floridian winter has also played tricks my mind. Whilst away I kept thinking it was August since it was about 30 degrees Celsius, while it was in fact still only March/April. Returning home to freezing temperatures and even snow and hail, has fooled my brains into believing that I’ve skipped spring and autumn 2017 entirely and am in the midst of winter 2017/2018 already. Speaking of time-travelling!
Since my return I’ve barely had the chance to process my time in Captiva. After a 19-hour day of travelling, 2 hours off sleep and a 6am touchdown, it was straight back to painting our newly renovated kitchen while I was trying to work out what was happening and who I was (I’ve learned that a combination of air pressure, severe lack of sleep and paint fumes might not make for a healthy cocktail).
Although I intended to check in with you from Captiva, I decided early on during the residency to cut off from the outside world as much as possible. I needed a break from the grim world with its dirty politics and other nasty events. It wasn’t till well after two weeks that hubby and I ventured off the estate to explore our surroundings. The exploration trip didn’t last that long though as the confrontation with ‘regular’ people burst the bubble of our magical, temporary, home. Basically the only trips into the outside world we made were to J.N. Ding Darling fish and wildlife reserve and occasional strolls to the rather wacky Bubble Room for a ridiculously oversized slice of red velvet cake. Instead of drugs or alcohol, this artist sometimes needs some sugar, what can I say?
When friends and family ask me how the residency was, I can’t say anything else but ‘a very special time in so many different ways’. It was extraordinary to be surrounded by manatees, dolphins, pelicans, ospreys, racoons and so many other types of wildlife just outside of our house! Being so close to nature is very humbling and inspiring, just like being surrounded by Rauschenberg’s books, machinery, artworks and materials. I don’t think one could ever have a more intimate relationship with an artist after death than by staying in their home surrounded by their personal objects and spirit. I often felt very emotional by being in such a special place surrounded by wonderful people and Bob’s generous spirit. Matt Hall deserves a special mention regarding this. Matt had worked with Bob for many years and although he might look like some tough guy, he is one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever met. I cherish the personal stories he told me about Bob, although our talks often ended with tears in our eyes…
In case if you were wondering what I have been up to there, here’s a list: improved my photography skills, made transfer prints and collages, tried out welding and screen printing and got into woodblock carving & printing. On top of that I launched my new travel website Done That Been There, explored flamenco dance through electronic music, played the piano for the first time, got into table tennis (and for a moment thought I invented a new game called ping-pong piano), got some private Photoshop workshops, did research for my non-fiction book and made jewellery. Oh and the last two days I worked on my impressive tan!
More of this all (yes, including the tan) will follow in the near future.