Thursday 23 May
This morning all the artists gather in the gallery, each looking for the ideal spot to put their work. I am drawn to the airy extension space which has a loose pebbly floor, horizontal beams and glass roof. It feels calm. I am to share this space with the guy from Sophia who is anxious that my work won’t interfere with his 6m long drawing – a parade of stylized women their their heads cut off and their bodies decorated with gold spots – we will see !
Back at the hostel I experiment with the levitating fabric idea, using a number of fans which require constant adjustment to hold aloft the 5 metres of flimsy white fabric – it’s hard to keep it all up in the air at one time and I feel rather disappointed – I need more fans, more fabric, more space … it kind of works but I the fabric never completely leaves the ground. The relationship between materials, location and concept is nebulous.
This afternoon the Czech artist and I have arranged to go back to the abandoned stadium. P wants me to film her in black sporting gear doing something vaguely olympic in this enormous and unfinished amphitheatre. We creep through the buckled metal fence at the back of the stadium and enter the arena via a shady concrete opening beneath a zig zagging staircase. We plan hoola-hoop activities, judge distances, timing and shots. I stand in the middle of the arena as P climbs up and up, then she stands upright holding her green and gold hoola hoop aloft; she is tiny against the the serried banks of seating. We swap places, the heat bounces off the concrete and P becomes a small dot she walks away from me. Amongst the weeds in the center of the arena, P’s hoola hoop spins around her waist in short spurts.
Brexit is a shadowy thing in the background, and I begin to see the UK through the eyes of others. May is on the verge of resigning and people here are genuinely interested in what will happen if Johnson becomes the next PM. The artist from Sophia checks the news on his phone regularly and quizzes me on the details, I haven’t a clue. The German artists express their desire for us to stay in the EU, they don’t understand why we wouldn’t want to be part of a project that has ensured peace in Europe since the end of the second world war and aims to ensure its citizens have a decent life ? it’s all rather embarrassing. In this artists’ bubble we are collegiate, respectful, inquisitive, generally generous, convivial and mostly non- judgmental, it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to be anything else! Feel hopelessly naive.
Friday 25 May
Breakfast this morning is a glorious mix of cheesy pastries, melons and strawberries, I eat them with S, who is always up early, and we chat as we eat under the umbrella in the garden. P and I return to the abandoned stadium and sit in the shade amongst prickly weeds talking and laughing, making stupid jokes about about our plans and projects. The sky lightens and we start to take more photographs, we cavort around the stadium with hoopla-hoops, making shapes against the stepped concrete, suggesting a passion for health and fitness 1940’s style that neither of us possess; we are bad at hoola hooping (though the photos look quite convincing) but we are quite successful at holding hoops aloft, holding them this way and that to make interesting shapes
I’ve started collecting things as I walk around the city. I have a number of stones and rocks, broken pieces of architecture gathered from significant sites,but not sure where this might lead. Instinctively I begin to wrap, sew and glue the fabric from the second hand shop to and around the stones – women’s work (weaving and sewing) encasing men’s work (building and engineering) perhaps. The fabrics I have collected refer to the many cultures found in Plovdiv – for Bulgaria red and green embroidery, for Turkey rich patterns, for Rome white cotton, Soviet – red wool.