Sunday, noon. Catalan noon, which is certainly not 12, nor any time soon after. In fact I have time to make two successive trips back to the masia (one for insect repellant, two for water) before the priest arrives and noon mass can commence. Padre Palau conducts has more than one mass in this region, and is bused around them all throughout Sunday, so the delay isn’t unexpected, no one seems agitated with the wait.


After returning with the water I retake my seat at the back in one of the collapsible wooden chairs,  arranged in four loose rows in front of Cami El Font.


Located at the foot of a steep cactus brindled bank, with sunlight scattered by elm trees, I’d previously found this Font a little sanctuary, purposefully taking the long back route from the village to stop by and greet the Virgin, and muse by her pool. Seemly neglected, this font appeared abandoned; a thick biological scum had accumulated on the water, and a sweet young burmese cat had chosen, perhaps, this as her final resting place, sprawled out across the path – I’d have mistake her for sleeping if not for the blue bottles already clustered around her face. It was a place of liminality. Located on both physical and spiritual peripheries. There was something honest about this place, the death, the decay, and a million miles away (conceptual, though not geographical) from the black virgin in her gleaming gold mountain top alter, polished by the hundreds of tourists which queue to touch her each day.


Both the moggy and the leaves had been cleared away. Last minute offerings were being brought to the makeshift alter; a bouquet of fresh yellow, white and peach carnations, accented with spray of white, was laid at the foot of the Virgin, and bottled font dor set down to the side.


With the priests arrival Mass begins.


He gesticulates, with long sweeping gestures, miming the typing on a keyboard raises a murmurous laugh from the congregation.


The parishioners take turn to read passages.

A women wearing a wonderful set of mint and chocolate marbled trousers walks to the microphone, knocking the statue’s table as she passes, causing the virgin to wobble precariously back and forth on the uneven ground; it doesn’t seem to be an faux pax, no one reacts with any hint of disdain. Each sentence finished with a choral flourish from the congregation I amb el vostre esperit


A thick eye glassed young boy walks to the temporary pulpit, Padre tilts microphone to meet his mouth, and I’m caught out by the depth of his voice.

Leather clad motorbikes tear past, metres behind my seat, kicking up dust and competing with his deep timbre. He keeps reciting over the din. I amb el vostre esperit


A women wearing pearls, and a brillant orange dress cools herself with a red lace fan. I amb el vostre esperit


The Virgin’s rosary is still swaying after the earlier upset. I amb el vostre esperit


The priest dilutes wine with bottled font dor and communion offered.

Marbled trousers stands to take collection in sunhat emblazoned with the Catalan flag. I dig in my pockets but I haven’t brought a cent; I feel awkward, but she seems none plussed, some give some don’t, if anyone feels obligation they aren’t showing it.


Padre Palau is concluding the day’s sermon; he gesticulations are interrupted by long sweeps wafting at the mosquitos, increasing the theatrical nature of his monologue.


As lords pray is uttered, even an old man on crutches stands, and trembles.



Pop is served in plastic cups, and communion is washed down with fanta and coca cola; one women is wielding a bottle of cava,


A gentleman, now wearing the collection hat, starts the Sardana. This circular folk dance was somewhat a fad in the 19th century, and now a symbol of Catalan nationalism.  tap tap tap

Soon he is joined by fan lady, and two other sneaker clad women, forming three graces, hands held and arms aloft in the circle, tap tap tap. tap tap tap.


When they finish the applaud themselves.

1 Comment

I take up residence along the back wall of the studio, a large wooden arch window provides a cool breeze, and a view looking out over the spanish courtyard; if I lean out far enough I can reach a loquat fruit ripening on the tree outside.

Laying out my materials, plastic sheeting (for costume/mess/printing),  golden dollies from Finland, fur from Northumbria, and Wilton candles imported from the U.S, I begin my occupation of Masia Can Serrat.


Liberating a protruding part of  plastic sheeting, and smoothing it over one corner of the desk, I erect a lo-fi print studio. The black ink is like molasses, and somehow more viscous and treacle like after another high altitude airplane journey, although proves tameable with the determined and tenacious use of a roller. With a needle I tattoo the surface of paper. scratch scratch scratch scratch, scratch scratch scratch scratch, scratch scratch scratch scratch – the spirit queen of the the magic mountain begins to reveal one of her faces to me.

The cicadas chorus echoes and refracts around the studio walls, creating invisible insects specters singing in every corner.


scratch scratch scratch scratch  The drawings form, and function as maps and compasses helping me navigate my ideas, my informants for future works.

scratch scratch scratch scratch, itch, itch itch ( you rotton mosquitos), scratch scratch scratch scratch


In the evening I take a stretch through the small copse nestled behind the farmhouse. Aged olive trees that appear to have fled the farm years ago now hide out amongst the field maple, elm and pine trees. Emerging onto the newly sown crop fields I gain a clear view of montserrat, the subject of my animistic narrative. Then, as if I should be homesick Northern England, the magic mountain brings me a rain shower.  Although raindrops are soft and warm, and far cry from the icy umbrella shredding precipitation I’d become accustomed to.


My first day closes in an almost double rainbow.




OK, so 2012. What happened? Why did I start writing about my residency in Cataluna, and not post any further updates?



No good reason.


Blogs were drafted as I continued to research the monstrous feminine, and the realignment of fetishism from primitive religious animism to male sexual desire, all the while noting how the hot sun loosened the pages of my books, and the cicadas hummed in my ears.

I wondered if my invocations of the divine feminine suffered from nostalgia, and realised it was all too easy to be a young white female body, lounging in the landscape – they lack edge, and failed to peak even my own curiosity; my interactions felt superficial.



In the second week I began the sacred pilgrimage route up through the mountain to behold and document La Moreneta. I was intrigued by her ambiguous position; now cherished as the christian archetype of chastity, her dark skin betrays her aesthetic origins as an ancient earth goddess, child on lap mirroring icons of Isis and Osiris, and the depth of her skin tone echoing the black fertile soil reflected in the skin of agricultural deities.

However what I became engrossed with during my first residency at Can Serrat was my investigation into the antithetical of the sacred sheltered virgin ­- the taboos of the female procreative body and her wildness.

Inspired by the feral cats of El Bruc, I prowled the edges of the farmland with only the white clay mark to blemish my body, danced as a mountain goat with gilded horns to the setting sun and held a suckling kitten to my own breast, forming my own uncanny mother and child.

I planned to post these. Truly. In fact I planned to right up until the day I posted another entry yesterday. ‘Update a-n blog’ has hovered nervously at the bottom of my to-do list for the last year. Moved to the top on multiple occasions with a genuine intention of resolving my notes into readable prose,  but those aspirations were consistently bumped by ‘apply to this.. (get paid).. read that.. (get educated).


And the more time that grew between the experience and the writing, the more the imperative to post faded… (and the joy of blogging is in it’s immediacy, that almost archaic romantic notion of writing from afar!)


So what did I do instead?  I booked a one way ticket back, and baby, this time we’re gonna do it right.




Artist In Residence at Can Serrat Centro de Actividades Artisticas, Cataluña 2012 2014


‘tomorrow I move back to the magic mountain’.


I’d previous remained incognito about my imminent return to Paradise.

Pinning the words to my Facebook wall, a statement from my cyber-self (who stares back a me, smising, head cocked at what was deemed a flattering angle) somehow solidifies my intention. There would be expectations now, of updates, and snapshots from faraway lands.


I boarded the plane on Monday.

Somewhere over southern England I find myself lost in the skyline, lamenting my lack of ability to describe the columbus cloud castles cloudscape without it being doused in cheesy poetics of a mid range middle school poetry assignment.


The hours passed; the passenger to my right is drinking, and muses out aloud if 2 pints and 2 bottles of wines for breakfast was a good idea. I sleep, she ‘passes out’ (her label). Never mind, she can recuperate at the apartment, Jose will take her to the stadium tomorrow.


We land at near noon, the hot sunlight is already streaming through the airbus windows bringing a discomfort to my heavy cotton dress. And tights! my colleague remarks, as she pays the meter at the aeroport.

This is my aunts car from France, did you notice the license plate? I hadn’t. My eyes had missed it as I heaved my suitcase, laden with my materials, into the trunk, and attempted to enter the passenger seat by the left.


40 minutes on the A-2 motorway.

We turn down a dirt road damaged in a recent deluge, it takes some careful navigation to avoid a tyre blow out. city municipal are mierda, 

the day after this happened they are building a post for a plaque!



My colleague offers a tour to acquaint myself with the other resident artists, and reacquaint myself with Masia Can Serrat (Daisy, your kitten drawings on the external wall have faded). I follow her tobacco trail room to room, and by the time we reach the top of the stairs she has exchanged pleasantries and gossip in 4 languages.


Eventually my suitcase finds a resting place on the familiar red tiles of the bedroom, and I have arrived. Again.


So let’s begin this residency encore. I have unfinished business blog.