© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.
In The Netherlands we stayed in a typical old, central Amsterdam house. Tiny steep stairs led up to the small apartment with a bedroom located in the attic, bulging book shelves lined most walls with authors ranging from Michael Moorcock, Bertrand Russell, Umberto Eco, Georges Bataille and William Borroughs along with plenty of underground films and obscure music on both record and CD. Art covered the walls not concealed by other forms of culture. A few antique wooden TNT detonators or “Blasting machines” sat on the coffee table ready for next new-year’s eve firework celebrations. In the fridge we found champagne, Polish vodka and rich German beer. A small box sat in the butter compartment of the fridge, containing psycho active "Magic-truffles- Psllocybe Mexicana” and when we first arrived the table was littered with hashish and a micro bong from the previous guests bon-voyage party.
I sat down and flicked through a book titled – Sex and Rockets, played a few tracks from an album called Singing in the bathtub by R. Crumb and the cheap suit serenades then made some coffee. A marvelous place to stay and many, many thanks to our host! Wisely over the few weeks we stayed there I ate one herring each day to keep healthy and nourished.
A number of times I also nipped into my favorite bar called Wynard Fockink, that has been making and serving Dutch Gin or Genever in many forms since 1679. One evening there, a fellow drinker told me that 1679 is the year 2223 in the Buddhist calendar, which made this year actually 2555. This all confused me a little as I sniffed and sipped more distilled juniper berries. I reasoned that the bar had opened quite a few summers ago then I ordered an unusual Bergamot flavored spirit as I looked for a reliable calendar and map. I really needed to check both when I was and where I was before I left the bar and fell into another.
Planted - Suzanne Biederberg Gallery. 29th October - 3rd December.
There’s a fair amount of the color green in the current exhibition even though much of the work was spawned in Antarctica. ‘Green-out’ is an Antarctic term used to describe the intense sensory surprise some expeditioneers feel when they return from Antarctica. The smell of earth, trees, shrubs and grass can be accentuated due to the total lack of such strong sensory inputs for long periods of time. Astronauts have similar experiences after months and months without greenery and nothing to smell but metal, sweaty socks, electronic perfume and body odor. It seems I still have a bout of this green-out observed in the work I now exhibit at Suzanne Biederberg Gallery here in Amsterdam.
I got cactus, A lady tree, Boab toy, and Dog topiary are paintings in the show that in a way pay homage to vegetation in all its weird and wonderful forms. Forms that I almost forgot about during that long dark Antarctic winter.
The concept of planting oneself and staying still is another aspect of plant-life that interests me as sinking roots into the soil to make a home or even simply becoming stationary are rather alien concepts to me. Perhaps I need to take notes from plants to see how on earth I can plant myself and stay put for longer than my usual few month in any location…. Whoops now we are in a plane heading north to a place with few plants.
Twenty-eight years ago I was in Iceland and now Carolina and I settle into a studio at The Hafnarfjördur Centre of Culture and Fine Art. Time for us to do some work! (www.hafnarborg.is) This harbor town is just south of the capital city Reykjavik and sits on a massive lava field inhabited by humans and apparently “Huldufolk” or hidden people. The lava arrived about 7300 years ago when Mt. Búrfell erupted so there are interesting rock formations here and there in-between the buildings. We have yet to meet any elves but I presume they are in hidden somewhere in the numerous black volcanic rock grottos covered in lush moss. The clean smell of geothermal sulphur drifts out of all hot water pipes, black singed sheep heads are found in the supermarket and Reykjavik seems as funky as ever especially considering it’s tiny population and sub Arctic climate. We intend to explore the west coast of the island but first I want to buy a bottle of the local booze called Brennivin (Burning-wine) or “Black Death” to lubricate our journey.