July 2012, Artist In Residence at Can Serrat Centro de Actividades Artisticas, Cataluña, Spain
1st July, 8.30 pm:
I’m sipping tea 30,000 ft above the English Channel. My head lolls back to rest in a somnolent haze against the window, soaking up the billowing cloudscape. The scene is painted a cool marazine hue; the full moon hovers ahead, a soft white hole punched in the blue sky sheet.
The Airbus is carrying me south, towards Catalonia where I will live as Artist in Residence at Can Serrat Centro de Actividades Artisticas.
My home and work place for the next month is nested at the foot of Montserrat.
The Black Madonna waits in the hillside. Virgin and child, Isis and Horus, earth goddess, a shrine built on lay lines, La Moreneta (The Dark Skinned One – Catalan) sits patiently adorned in gold.
It is said that it was on this same hillside that Saint George slew the dragon, rescuing a young maiden from virgin sacrifice blooms of red roses grow from the spilled blood of the beast.
This is virgin territory.
Turbulence grips the plane and storms rumble around the airbus, the indigo night envelopes us and the moon turns on light a lamp.
The playful wind giant bats the aircraft to and fro, quakes shudder through the plane tossing my notebook to the floor. Dropping through the cloud cover into a raging rainstorm, I strain to see the country below but I can barely make out the flashing lights of the planes wing, each flicker illuminating the fierce deluge.
With a thud we hit the tarmac prompting applause and whoops from the passengers. The metal bird holds us locked in her belly for a few more moments while airport crew drive stairs and buses out to our landing spot; news of Spain’s euro victory ushers around the plane as cellphones are switched back on (albeit, slightly ahead of the instructed time).
Karine of Can Serrat greets me at arrivals placard in hand (I enjoy this indulgence), my luggage hauled into the trunk of her car we begin our drive north.
My stormy birth into Catalan life was the closure to the end of a two-week heat wave and the night is cool and crisp. Pulling up to the farmhouse my heart begins to gush with wonder, making my way across the courtyard broken down angels loom out of the darkness and palms usher whispers above me. A heave on the heavy oak door and I have arrived. I’m utterly and completely charmed.