**Below the image of the artwork is a short video that accompanies this piece and all that inspired it...
Dreaming ghosts and valleys. 2023. 40x40cm Oil Pastel on board.
The other day, in classic style, I dropped this artboard behind my record shelf, reaching too high in an attempt to hang it on an ill-suited screw. I managed to catch it with one finger as it fell, smearing some of the finishing touches that I had done on the bush over recent days all over the patio's stucco wall on the way to securing it, with intense single-finger pressure, against my loungeroom wall. We were balanced there precariously for a bit, the board and I, at maximum stretch, grateful for my recent gymnastics training as I negotiated how to reposition myself to grab it safely, and stop the free-fall all the way into the dusty abyss that is the back of my record shelf. I hadn’t sealed it before attempting this move — I didn’t expect I was about to hang it, it just happened— so that all needed to be cleaned up, but now it's done, actually slightly improved I’d say…and dusted, and sealed, and I'm very happy it's finished.
There are many memories and associations for me behind this piece, in addition to this latest one. Six months has gone by since I started... I was visiting some friends in Ibiza, finally some down time and my own studio space to start integrating the Spain trip up to that point, and life in general I guess...with some valley air and old pals to nourish me. One day I grabbed the biggest board I had with me, one of those ones that I had been carrying around in my luggage for weeks, and got into it.
This was the outlook from a place we stayed in Los Algodonales, which is in the south of Spain, in the picturesque mountains of Andalucia, an area known for its quaint white villages, among other things. 25 years ago I got heartstruck by a town in this area, somewhere my heart knew, decisively, to stay here, yet I didn't...and now, after so many years, Ramon, his parents, and I were headed back ... on a roadtrip...with much anticipation and alegria. So Algodonales was a stop on our way to Ronda, a chance for quality time, to suss the vibe from afar, breathe these mountains...get lost a bit, hopefully relax, and (maybe, although I didn't) do some drawing.
I was the one who walked in first. I managed to get the key from the lady halfway up the street, and make a bee-line for the place while the others were dealing with bags and being parked in an awkward spot in a narrow street in a Spanish village (which can be tight). The listing had been new, no reviews. That always makes me a little suspicious... being the first ones, but this place seemed like it might suit all our various quirks and preferences so we went for it.
Stepping into the house gave off a certain feeling of being not quite lived in or ready...of waiting. The door to the downstairs patio was open, and I could feel the shift in my breathing immediately. It became deeper, more spacious... that leafy valley view was better than in the pictures. I caught the moment while the energy was still to snap a pic, which would end up being my reference for this, and I set about cleaning the outdoor table and chairs, which were extremely dusty. I was kind of smiling to myself — this is not what I normally do on arrival somewhere new but my body was moving solo. I needed to prepare this space right now. I wanted to sit there. I needed to sit there, and relax, and for it to be ready.
Turns out the house is one of only two places in the village that remains in original form, and hasn’t been renovated. It has such beautiful character. Lots of handcrafted items, old photos, art, original tiles, lots of wood. Downstairs is the kitchen, living, main bedroom, bathroom, and this patio area. Ramon and I were sharing upstairs, which was super cute, basically part bedroom-part sitting room/office with an amazing outdoor terrace that has panoramic views over town and mountains. Yet even though the terrace upstairs was more open and spectacular, it was the downstairs one that was calling me, and I was looking forward to just chilling out there the next couple of mornings with my coffee.
Except the next day I woke up in a super weird state... I'd been dreaming of ghosts all night long. As I was lying there, feeling that I was awake, my body was invisible, and I had my leg up in the air, and I was saying to Ramon, look I told you this was gonna happen, this always happens, and I was lifting my leg up and down, and I could see through myself, and I'd had, kind of, not nightmares but ghost stories all night long in my dreams, which is not my usual. I assumed I'd woken Ramon up but actually he was already awake, which was weird too, and lucky because I had just blurted all that out.
He's like, I've gotta tell you something.
Turns out during the night he'd gone downstairs to the bathroom, and noticed a seat under the tiny bathroom sink that wasn't there earlier when he was cleaning his teeth to get ready for bed, and he didn't know why it was like that, but a chair that had been in the dining room was now tucked strangely under the basin, and in that moment he gets flashes of all the, sort of, death and living a full life messaging in art that was all over the house, which he'd seen earlier but not really paid much attention to, and now basically he thinks there might be a ghost in there, sending us messages, and he's been lying there awake the rest of the night thinking about ghosts, waiting for his parents to wake up to ask them about it.
So he says, either there's a ghost in here or you were dreaming of ghosts because I've been thinking about them all night long.
Well..turns out it was the latter.
I have lived in a house with ghosts before. Not a huge deal to be honest once I learned how to cohabit, and I wasn’t getting a bad vibe now, as such, yet there was a short period during which my heart was heavy, imagining we'd move out that day, that the ghosts were inviting us to leave… to get a wriggle on to Ronda. But instead I got to do what I'd been waiting for...go downstairs, make a coffee, sit outside, relax, and let this place draw me, even if I wasn’t ready to draw it.
Apparently there are these things called Nadi leaves… I just heard about them the other day, Jonah Dempcy and Dave aka Neutrino Radio were talking about them on Jonah’s new Frequencies: A Human Design Podcast. It was connected to the idea that we have no choice, that we are just on a path, life is happening whether we notice or not, and the Nadi leaves are privy to that story. There are people who read the leaves, and if you seek them out they will find your leaf, sifting through thousands and thousands and thousands of possible leaves until they locate yours, a process of elimination based on the names and events of your life history. Some of the leaves start to crumble though, potentially disintegrating entirely, gesturing towards those instances where one has strayed irretrievably far from their path, false decision after false decision made such that the likelihood of ever turning up to your leaf becomes progressively impossible…and the leaf knows it. Otherwise our leaf is there for us, with any deviations from our trajectory being more like delays and resistances along the way to passing through those points, that we will come round to again, in some other way, or time, pulled like magnets to the inevitable.
There are definitely moments in which I wonder about what was in store for me in Ronda all those years ago, if I had’ve done what was true, and stayed... studied Spanish in an academy, allowed that beautiful valley flow to guide, and nurture me. So here I am spiralling around again, and I love that this piece will always remind me of that: there are places where I'm meant to be, and my body knows because each of us has a mechanism inside that is doing the driving for us. Not all mechanisms work the same so it’s about recognising and allowing oneself to align to whatever is that unique flow ...trusting that…trusting our unique movement in Space… and it will remind me of those people that accompany me, influence me, and love me along the way...preferably from a separate bedroom where possible ;)
**Artwork is available as a Tea Towel in white or beige. $45. Just get in contact with me for purchase and postage (if not Sydney local)