Saturday, 8 February 2014

Malaga, Spain: Week One


My first week in Malaga and I have enjoyed every moment.  I have been made very welcome and the staff and teachers at the Institute have been amazing.  When I first arrived in Malaga it took me a while to find the correct route to make my way to the Malaca Institute from the airport - but no sooner I had got off the plane I was on the bus into the city centre (centro).  Once there I walked around for a bit, getting my bearings - locating the number 3 or 11 bus.  After much translation problems I opted for a taxi and got on well with the driver.  This was my first opportunity to test out the little Spanish I had been teaching myself the week previous (thank you to my Sister for buying me an early birthday present - Talk Spanish from the BBC) - and I didn't do too bad and the driver would tell me the correct pronunciation ;D
 When I arrived at the Institute I met the receptionist and they gave me the key to my room and promptly headed so I could unpack and rest.  Later that Sunday afternoon I went for a walk around the area, Cerrada De Calderon, and to the beach, which was only 5 minutes away.
  Sitting on the beach I took in my surroundings and took in the view of the city and the mountains in the far distant.  I took out my sketchbook and began doing some quick drawings - helping me to take in what I was seeing.  After six months in Cyprus making work, getting to know the people there, it was time to move forward and begin my journey here.  Cyprus had prepared me for my travels and being relaxed about living in another country, something I love to do and making work which responds to my experiences in places.
 On Monday morning I had breakfast in the restaurant here at the Institute and met a few people who were there - but not knowing that most of the students where in class learning Spanish.  Whilst there I wondered when I would meet the other artists on this residency, and as I thought this Nieves and the other artists had come into the restaurant. 
 We introduced ourselves and found out we could begin learning Spanish from Tuesday, after sitting a little test to find out how much we knew.
 Later in the day a group of us took a tour bus into the centre to have a little tour of Malaga, seeing the Cathedral, introduced to famous buildings and figures of history and tried a glass of vino from a bar frequented by Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, when they are in town.  Myself, Marina (Italy), Felipe (Chile) and Stefan (Germany) took to a walk around the city and the marina - talking about where we have come from, the art we do and hat we would each be making here over the next three months in the rooms we have been assigned.
 This week has been amazing and I have enjoyed every moment.  Learning Spanish (although remembering new words does not come easy to me) in the mornings and walking about in the afternoons.  I love the way they approach teaching here - we have a different tutor each hour, each with their own way of teaching, keeping lessons fresh and exciting - and I like the fact with each of their different teaching strategies and handwriting, you are able to take in the various ways to remember words, sentences and the grammar.
 I have to put in the practice to get better with Spanish - when I was in school and learning French I took to it well - although today I know very little.  However, I believe that the way in which we are being taught and the practice that I will have to do to remember the verbs and nouns, I hope to be able to speak and listen to Espanol and know how to respond.  It will take time - but one of the reasons for wanting to do this is to learn the language well and be able to converse with people where ever I travel to, getting to know more about the country etc... without having to rely on an English book or English translations.  Knowing the language and taking part in activities like Flamenco lessons will add to my experience and infuse elements into the work, the painting, I will do in the assigned room here at Malaca Instituto.
 After only one week I already know I am going to enjoy this experience and I can already imagine this country being one of the places on Earth that I would enjoy living in for longer in the future.
 Last night a party was put on to welcome all of the artists and I had an amazing night talking to others about what I was going to do - and even though we were speaking different languages, we could still communicate with my little Spanish I have learned this week here, and most speak English too - although as the weeks come I hope that less English will be spoken by me and more Spanish will replace it to become my major language here.  I am determined, even if it takes me a while to do.  ;D  There was an amazing buffet with a variety of lovely food and the champagne & Vino Rojo was wonderful.  There was a DJ and music and I danced and enjoyed myself.  There was a performance by a performer who had been body painted to be a Jaguar, some interactive art using OHP projectors and a speech by the Director welcoming us and introducing us to everybody here.  A brilliant night - Thank you.
 I wish to thank all the Personal, Tutores and Estudiantes for making me very welcome, relaxed and giving me this opportunity to share my work with you and to create something for everyone to enjoy in the months and years ahead.