I have had a very enjoyable and productive 7 weeks at the Fundacion Gruber Jez residency in Merida, Mexico. I have learnt so much – resin casting, silicone mould making, polyurethane mould making, porcelain slip casting and I have experienced working with henequen – the string like fibres of a Mexican cactus plant that form an incredibly strong bond when mixed with wood glue. I have produced lots of little kangaroo and rabbit heads in various materials, lots of small ceramic legs, some porcelain sculptures, some henequen ‘birdcages’ and lots of drawings and notes for works for future projects. Importantly I have a much clearer understanding of which materials to use for my larger project at my next residency in the Netherlands beginning January next year.
Over the 7 week period in Mexico, I visited 3 of the important Mayan Archaeological sites – 2 in Yucatan and one in Quintana Roo and was inspired by the elegance of the simple yet strong architectural forms as well as the interesting ant nests, bee hives and strange tree formations I encountered in the jungle settings. I was also impressed by the baskets and lampshades found in Quintana Roo. These inspired me to work with the local henequen fibre in the creation of my ‘birdcages”. I was lucky enough to be here for the day of the dead and to visit several local cemeteries to see the brilliantly coloured and decorated graves which are more like little houses – The cemeteries are like little towns for the dead. I have seen some wonderful ceramic sculpture and ceramic painting here and plenty of traditional and contemporary artworks in the shops and galleries. I also had an opportunity to give a couple of presentations to some school children that were very interested to hear about Australia and New Zealand.
I love Mexico. The sky and sunsets are always so beautiful, the other Mexican artists I have meet are warm, funny, hard working and generous people, and there is an abundance of colours here in the buildings, in the clothing, in the markets and in the cemeteries! The fruit here tastes especially good – the avocados, melons, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and chillies of many shapes, colours and sizes. I was sad to leave especially as I have 3 wonderful new friends there now but with the connections I have established, I plan to return in 2014 to visit my friends and to exhibit in Mexico City.