2019 travel list

Every year around spring time, when the days start getting longer and the weather gets a little warmer, I get restless.

I start to think of all the places I could travel to in the coming year; the cultures I want to experience and the art I want to make.

Last year I was drawn to Central America, specifically the rainforest, a part of the world I’ve been infatuated with for years. This year, though, I’ve felt like exploring all that Europe (or any country that’s a couple of hours away) has to offer and making my way around the continent.

Being in the UK, I’ve always discounted Europe because it seems too near by to be a true adventure (I realise now how ridiculous this sounds!) but this year I’ve definitely changed my tune. I can’t imagine anything more freeing than having so many countries, all with hugely diverse cultures, in such close proximity.

So, the following locations are at the top of my list to visit this year. I’m already excited to look back at the end of the year to see if I actually manage to check them off…

Morocco

Not in Europe, I know, but since it only takes around 2 hours to fly from Barcelona to Marrakech, it feels as though the cultures are somehow intertwined.

I don’t know the first thing about Morocco or even which region of Morocco is best to stay, but something is drawing me there this year. In the past few weeks, Morocco has come up in a bizarre amount of Instagram posts, Pinterest pins and documentaries (even though I wasn't intentionally seeking these out!)

This could either be a sign from the universe that Morocco holds some magical creative potential and I need to visit, or Facebook’s algorithm creeping on my browsing behaviour. I’m going to stay optimistic and go with the former.

Italy

I visited Rome when I was about 16 and naturally didn’t appreciate the city as much as I would if I was to visit there now.

I don’t know much about Italy either really, just that I imagine the country to be full of stoney buildings, marble sculptures and lots and lots of art. The art history nerd in me wants to go just for the museums, and I keep hearing that the Borghese Gallery is an absolute must visit.

The main thing I remember from my first visit to Rome is how insanely hot it was. But that sort of dry city heat that just feels like being inside a pizza oven. I’d be prepared for that this time around.

Greece

I always knew Greece was one of the most architecturally beautiful countries in Europe, and one with some of the richest cultural history, but for some reason it never made my travel wish list, until now.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been pretty productive with my artwork in the past few months, and the Greek goddess motif has been a regular inspiration.

Not to mention, I have a secret fantasy of learning some ancient pottery techniques and living off feta and watermelon so Greece may well be my spiritual home.

three weeks in the jungle

A week and a day ago I landed back in the UK after a solid 24 hours spent getting taxis and navigating airport transfers and eating weird plane pasta. I was officially back home after spending 3 weeks living remotely in the north east region of Panama as part of La Wayaka Current artist residency.

All in all, the residency was amazing. I experienced things that I still can’t quite put into words and met amazing artists and observed customs and rituals that I will never forget. Whilst this was all great for my soul I was secretly a bit gutted that I didn’t get the opportunity to paint more.

A big part of me says that an artist can create work anywhere and shouldn’t need a designated studio space, the other opposing half says that of course an artist needs space and quiet time and enough natural light to get a composition right.

Whilst the atmosphere and sheer sense of adventure that came with La Wayaka was great (and one of the main reasons I pursued the residency in the first place) it was difficult to set up a studio space there. The wooden floors of the studio/community house were crawling with ants (and occasionally cockroaches) and the humidity meant that any paper left out in the open for any length of time would warp and wither.

Although on the flip side I got to work in an environment of giant hibiscus flowers and fireflies and coconut trees - so it’s difficult to complain.

That being said, it was surprisingly nice to be back at the kitchen table without bugs biting me or kids shouting or a perpetually sweaty face. I think I managed to distill some of the colours and shapes I absorbed in Armila, and made some paintings that I’m quite fond of.

Here’s to going into the next six months with a fresh dose of inspiration.