ANDREA CHRISTODOULIDES: Lyon and Turnbull Residency, 2017
Big changes, rock faces, big women and singing sands
My week on Eigg has been an extraordinary experience that I will cherish forever. Writing this blog from London makes the feeling of my experience on the island even more poignant. The natural beauty and wilderness of the Scottish islands is what I remember most fondly from my trip and I can’t stop comparing it to life in the big city of London.
My life recently has been married by big changes. Finishing university, moving from Edinburgh to London and starting my masters program, all within the space of four months.
Going to Eigg for a week in between was something fresh and different and for once I found myself not worrying about my life but about simple everyday things like the weather, food supplies, cooking, having hot water for showering and generally surviving.
Even though the Bothy has everything one needs to survive, I must admit that I am a person of comforts. Therefore getting accustomed to life in the Bothy required considerable effort. Martin, my boyfriend, accompanied me there, which made things much easier. Simple acts, like showering and cooking are so embedded in our everyday lives that we almost never think of them. Water is always warm and food is always accessible. At the Bothy, we had to warm up the water by burning wood. To cook, we had to walk to the pier, which is 1.5 hours away (each way), to get food supplies and then either cook on the single gas burner or in the fire heated oven.
Everything took more time than it usually takes in “real life” which really slowed me down and made me relax.
Influence of Eigg on my work
Before the trip to Eigg, I was stressing and debating in my head about how a place can actually influence my work. But the residency and Eigg itself proved to be positive influences. I made some works I recognize as successful. I am taking these experiences with me and I haven’t even for a bit exhausted their potential.
Usually my works on canvas are like the theatre stage, a defined space in which a series of open and closed narratives are enacted and my characters function like actors in a play. These characters are inspired from prehistoric Greek and Cypriot artifacts, Cycladic figurines, puppets from nineteenth century Greek shadow theatre and fashion photography.
This time my characters occupied Eigg.
Eigg influenced not only the setting of my drawings but also the characters involved in the story. The way the weather conditions kept changing in front of my eyes with such speed made me imagine powerful female creatures hovering ever so gracefully on top of the island and constantly changing the set of the play according to their whims. They are powerful, omnipresent and god-like creatures that are responsible for the extreme weather conditions and natural formations of Eigg. Just a single, seemingly tiny, but eloquent move caused a huge and unforgiving impact on both the island and us.
I later stumbled upon the myth of the big women warriors, giving the name to the island in Gaelic, ‘Eilean nam Ban Mora’. I couldn’t find a clear depiction of the story but I have faith in my imagination, which created these creatures that hover over the island and rule it.
- Sweeney's Bothy