Sedona dreaming

Thank you: family, friends and strangers (who are now friends) who financially supported this residency through the Pozible crowd funding campaign as well as Arts Tasmania through Crowbar. I couldnít have done this without you. Special thanks also to my hosts in Sedona Charlotte and Hassan (I am already missing the Persian food and long morning hikes), Eric (and all at Sedona Arts Centre), Paul, Carol and the interns (Verde Valley School), and all of the artists who gave me something that I will never lose.

Home again: from 35 degrees latitude north to 42 degrees south, 31 hours and 10 minutes traveling over 13,350 kmís (about 8,300 miles) from the dry 100 degree plus Fahrenheit heat (37-38c) of the Sedona summer to the cool of 58 (15c) degrees snow capped mountain of winter in my home town of Hobart, Tasmania. I left on Wednesday afternoon and arrived on Friday afternoon, losing Thursday completely. By the time I had left Sedona most of the artists from the colony had long since departed with some reflecting eloquently about their experience on the colonyís Facebook page. I read through these and found myself agreeing out loud over and over again. But what did being over the other side of the planet, with mostly American artists (and a few Aussies and a Kiwi), mean to me upon reflection back at home?

Verde Valley School below with Cathedral Rock in the distance

America: an intensely crazy, beautiful, riotous, harmonious, radical, inspiring, and despising place: full of confidence and contradiction: wild and untamed, and raw and uncompromising. A land of gigantic gashes and scares, of mixed emotions, shadows and wild raw energy. It has the biggest best and worst of it all. Itís incredible friendly and at times frightening. Itís polite as well as pushy. There's perfection and dejection. I consider America 1000 times everything the place that I'm from, but hey that's just a brief impression from an outsider who has only ever been there three times before.

Sedona Summer Colony: initially it was something of a question of contrasts between my expectations and then the experiences had. Sadly I didnít get long enough at the colony to get into any collaborative stuff, but I felt at ease wandering around experiencing others. And what I saw was mostly free flowing, abstract, open, human, informative and honest. Immediately I felt a sense of belonging, an openness of sharing, and a willingness for discussion and counter discussion. I witnessed an enthusiasm and energy of will and for being in place, and I saw much experimentation, some risk taking, and a melting pot of interesting ideas and experiences. It gave my world a great confidence boast telling to me to take more risks, to be more open, and to get more involved and most importantly it re-energised me. It allowed me to really explore, observe and now reflect upon a radically different landscape made up of people and place and in some instances deep convergences of both. I was able to be more intimate and expansive with my surroundings, to question myself as an artist and a person, who I am, where I am from, what on earth am I doing, and to think through the same questions relative to the others who I had just met. I relished the long moments of solitude. I didnít make much work but I wrote much, I questioned constantly, and I observed intensely, and this will hopefully get me working outside of my comfort zone once I process it all.

Hobart from Knocklofty

Reflective dreaming: today, sitting back in my studio whilst preparing my PhD annual review presentation due next week I cannot help but be distracted, like many others have reminisced, in my thoughts of the people and places that I met amongst the red rock landscapes of Sedona at the artist colony. What a privilege being able to be a part of such a thing. The experience was indeed a vortex. Energy was found, amplified, renewed and I feel reengaged with life, my practice, with nature, the earth and my hometown surroundings again. Many years ago US thinker J. B. Jackson suggested that we are not spectators of landscape rather we are participants in it, and that we affect landscape and it affects us. I came to Arizona with Jacksonís words deep in my mind and within this I was seeking to examine, phenomenologically, disturbances and tensions of being within and amongst it. I found it in the physical natural landscape through extremes of sedimentation and erosion, by climbing into wind and water blown thin slot canyons and hiking into a number of wide open canyons, I felt the enigma of the vortexes, I sweated profusely as I climbed up sandstone, siltstone and limestone mountains mesas and buttes, or down into oak, juniper, butterfly and cicada filled valleys or when traversing the side of a steep cliff face, I imagined the violence of a volcano erupting or a meteor crashing into the earth as I walked the crater rim of each, I marveled at 300 million year old petrified wood that had permineralized into rock, I felt soft red sandstone crumble in my hands, I gazed at rocky mountainous landscapes that were vast, epic, fantastic, ethereal and magical and which took on human characteristics (and names), and I trembled at mysterious void-like tears and gashes in the land in all sorts of natural and unnatural colours, shapes, tones and forms. I found alternative disturbances in peopleís art practices in and with the landscape as well as in mixtures of peopleís own extraverted and introverted landscapes of character as I pushed myself into their lives and them into mine. I have been dreaming over the past few nights of the anxieties of a tarantula, a rattlesnake and a coyote wandering around the Verde Valley School, and of the squawk of a raven resonating across the Grand Canyon, my world is upside down, and I think about wanting to be back exploring that warm open place where I just was recently for 4 weeks in July and August.