I got bubbles on the brain. Maybe it’s the sound of a cork popping at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Could be the bubble bread Zsofi lovingly baked for our family at Christmas last week (it’s not just for Thanksgiving anymore!). Or perhaps it’s the thought of soaking in a steaming hot bubble bath to shake off the holiday blitz and quietly wind down on the last day of the year.
Whatever the reason, the amazing creative bubble I’ve floated in this year has bounced me across the globe experiencing a perfect balance of art and nature. From eucalyptus to ponderosa, boreal to rain, the forests I’ve smelled have been as varied as the installations I’ve placed. And this month, I was lucky enough to add a vegetation variation to the tropical climate category – the jungle.
Described as eco-rustic, the property has kept its promise to provide a quiet sanctuary among the wildly pristine terrain of the dry forest entrenched in the coastal mountain range. Open-air cabanas tucked away in the groves of coconut palms and paper bark trees have no electricity, only candlelight to flicker as the sun sets over the Pacific.
Not exactly roughing it with the personalized service, fresh organic food and spa amenities, but the jungle’s heart beats steadily in the tangled thicket all around.
And over one week of creating in this lush environment, the jungle showed me just how strong of a pulse it has.
Although painting brought me to Haramara, I could not ignore the pull of installation, particularly in such a wild terrain. Kindly requested by the owner of the property to place only 100% organic material, I spent weeks experimenting with new substrates in my studio/kitchen that could absorb home-brewed organic dyes.
Mung bean and rice paper met the challenge as I found a way to recreate bio-degradable forms that kept the translucency I adore.
Dough was an obvious choice, but I also dreamed of making paper pulp bricks to stack or embed in the forest floor. How to keep those blocks colorfully eco-friendly? Earth pigments, naturally!
Even in the tropical heat, my love affair with ice was on the planning list, so new mold shapes were discovered and a bond with the Haramara kitchen staff (and freezer!) was cultivated.
I could not have been better prepared, but as I soon found out, the law of the jungle has its own set of rules, and I was far from its queen.
Born from the Hindi word jangal, to call this place a wasteland seems a tad severe. However, in the metaphorical sense, I truly experienced the uncontrollable nature and isolation of the jungle every time I tried to install.
Granted, every installation journey is filled with challenges, but I felt each one of the emotions often associated with the word jungle: confusion, powerlessness, disorientation and immobilization.
Perhaps it was the heat playing tricks on me, but you cannot ignore the signs of the wild for long. Every day, the organic artwork would fight its placement in some way:
1. The terrain would swallow it whole – pieces plunged to their fate through thorned bushes and tumbled down rocky ravines.
2. The canopy played with the light, diffusing it across the artwork so it disappeared against a back drop of the most comprehensive palette of green known to the human eye.
3. Sand and dirt refused to play second fiddle to the vibrant flower petals I had collected to embed in ice, so the crushed earth clung to every single piece I touched.
4. Ants ate everything else.
As with any good struggle, a lesson is always intertwined in its fiber. Perhaps the easiest explanation was a gentle reminder from the universe that my Haramara trip was meant to expand my painting practice. Noted.
Or maybe, my ephemeral darling, ice, should be kept for polar excursions where the pressure to place lasts longer than 318 seconds. Hmmm.
Valid thoughts for sure, but neither one rang true in my heart, and certainly would not keep me from such creative exploration in the future.
No, it was much simpler than that, and yet, so much more profound:
The jungle is abundance personified. Bursting with life, it creates beautiful harmony all on its own. It has exactly what it needs – nothing more, nothing less.
The essence of things to come
A bumpy trek in the jungle could have burst my creative bubble, but I’ve returned from the wild side of installation a tiny bit wiser…once again. Each journey brings its own surprises, all of which provide just enough sparkling effervescence to fuel the next adventure.
Cheers to 2018, and let’s clink our glasses to 2019! I’m so honored and grateful to share this journey with you, no matter how bumpy the creative road may be…
Kisses - Margaret