© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.
Here in the foothills of the Andes the 3 farm dogs, Negro, Tinta and Raphael Ricardo laze about near the succulent garden occasionally barking to scare away birds, frogs, uninvited guests or just to pass the time. Over the past two months I have been sun drying local tomatoes, watching the harvest season in full swing, observing the clouds forming around the mountains and also making some art.
I have spent time renovating an Asado room where the occasional BBQ is performed in full Argentinean manner. This room now doubles as my studio where I cook a few ideas as I prepare for the years exhibitions. After cement mixing, painting, hammering and cleaning the room is now a rustic but stable studio. Literally stable/not moving unlike all the studios/cabins I have recently utilized on polar voyages. In total I have spent 6 months on wobbly icy seas making art on the bunks and floors of various ship cabins. Perhaps I have found a base here in La Consulta? I stabilize here, simultaneously planning the year’s travelling. As is to be expected I am working on paintings that recall other places and other headspaces. A dark Norwegian bridge that stank of Nordic depression, a Southern Indian (Kerali) kollum dirt pattern, too many glasses of absinthe in Prague, a Dutch mariner on holiday on wobbly land and various flavours of hut fever I have experienced.
Everyone has been stuck inside for various reasons for a little longer than they wished. I have on occasion been unable to leave a room/house/hut due to blizzards, flooding, cyclones, earthquakes, tropical rainstorms, illness, curfews, rough seas and heat waves. Perhaps all of these are just different types of waves? The feelings of confinement, waiting, fear, isolation, or just plain boredom can be simply annoying like an itch you cant quite cease or as extreme as suicidal depression. In caravans, tents, dongas, guesthouses, shacks, shelters, mud huts, ice caves, apartments, and holiday villas I have paced floors, scribbled notes, starred at walls, cleaned and polished utensils, reread old fashion magazines, drawn madly, chanted rubbish, and inebriated myself with various mixtures whilst waiting. (We are in fact, always anywhere waiting for something.)
Over the years a lot of time has been spent in isolated regions of the world, often in small dwellings. In remote and exotic locations I have enjoyed wild unknown environments but within the huts I have sought comfort and safety. The geographer Yi-Fu Tuan has written, “when space has become totally familiar to us it has become place.” To turn the exotic into the mundane/normal is the same process. Whereby time and familiarity, knowledge and security eventually domesticate a space or make’s ordinary the strange.
All about me grapes are being turned into wine and farm workers scuttle about on tractors, trucks and bicycles. In the asado studio I cultivate ideas and art, occasionally I chat to the 3 dogs as I turn a space into a place.