Turks and Caicos

Ut på eventyr.

Onsdag 11. februar

For et par uker siden ante jeg ikke at det fantes et sted med det eksotiske navnet Turks and Caicos island.
Nå sitter jeg med kofferten pakket og er klar for noe jeg tror kan bli en spennende utfordring og et eventyr.

litt info om stedet;
Grand Turk is the capital island of the Turks and Caicos, its historical heartbeat. It is here that Christopher Columbus first made landfall on his initial voyage to the New World in 1492.
Cockburn Town is the center piece of the island with a wonderful selection of historical buildings and a rustic charm that is unforgettable.
One of Grand Turk's main attractions is diving. With its many dive operators it can cater to novice snorkelers to experienced divers. There is an outstanding protected coral reef, which drops to 8,000 feet and is close enough to shore for beach dives. During whalewatching season visitors can watch the humpback whales pass from Grand Turk's shores as well as from the surface of the water.

I den senere tid er øya rammet hardt av orkaner som har ført til at natur og infrastuktur bærer preg av store ødeleggelser. Øya har mistet mye av sin vegetasjon og mye er fortsatt kaotisk.

Artist on Call, en amerikansk organisasjon som sender ut kunstnere til å bidra i kriserammede områder rundt i verden hvor kunsten utgjør arbeidsredskapet, har spurt meg om jeg kan komme noen uker å bidra i et kunstprojkt på denne øya midt i Karibien.

Deres visjon er ; “ to bring--through the arts--emotional healing, to provide a sense of normalcy and aesthetic nourishment (feeding the souls) of children who have experienced traumatic circumstances as a result of war and catastrophic events around the world.”     www.builabridge.com

I de neste ukene frammover skal jeg sammen med Leah Samuelsen (billedkunstner og venn fra Chicago) lede et arbeid sammen med lokale kunstnere og barn på øya. Vi skal male et 4 * 10m utendørs veggmaleri. Målet er å bringe noe av vegetasjonen visuelt tilbake, bygge relasjoner og prøve å bidra til å skape håp.

Jeg skal prøve å få lagt ut noen bilder underveis.

 

18 February 2009

The second day of my island life is coming to an end.

I am sitting at the kitchen table where I live writing this. Outside I can hear the crickets accompanied by the waves from the beach.

The two last days have been full of adventures and I am so glad to be here.
When I was stepping out of the small plane Sunday afternoon I was met by a nice, tanned smiling trio: Leah, Dinah and Neal.
Leah is an artist from Chicago and a very good friend. Her sister Dinah works at the National Museum here on the island. It is one of the few buildings that still works properly after the hurricane. Neal Hitch is the director of the museum.

After my bag arrived they took me out for dinner. It was getting dark but as I sat dawn I could hear the waves right next to our table.

While we enjoyed our grilled tuna with a glass of white wine we tried to have a conversation, but the live band that was playing wanted the full attention.
Three men with wide smiles were singing and playing. One of the men was holding a saw and a screwdriver in his hands. I as told that that was the national instrument, “rip saw.”
I was falling to sleep that night full of impressions and sounds from the sea and a man playing on a saw.

The next day I was shown around the small Island 1 x 5 miles.

In September it was hit by a category 5 hurricane.
The beauty of the nature, with its clear turquoise water and white beaches makes a strong contrast to all the devastation that the hurricane has made. Most of the houses are in very bad shape and it's a community with great needs.

Leah and I are here for that reason, with Artists on Call. It is an international arts education and intervention organization that engages the transforming power of the arts to bring hope and healing in the tough places of the world. Artists on Call answers invitations to work through local organizations- in this case the Turks and Caicos National Museum.

Leah took me to the places where the murals are planned to be.

Leah has worked for 4 weeks, making contacts with local artists, the school and other institutions to prepare for us to start the paintings. She has talked to people, done research and made the sketches 

She has done 75% of the work (which is preparation) and now the next 2 weeks we will try to finish the last 25% (which is painting).

There are three murals we will paint, one at the school, where the idea is to visually bring some of the vegetation back to the island, build relationships and teach the kids painting skills. We started the painting today and it was fun to see how the kids were focused and engaged.

The other one is placed at the center of the island, on a wall that is ruined by the hurricane but that will be a reminder of islanders' identity and future through its iconic, Grand Turk motifs.

We have been out two evenings now and traced the design from a projector onto the wall, so tomorrow the painting will start.

The third mural is in the planning phase. It will be completed on another island called Provo, on the exterior of a youth center.

There's a lot of work to be done here, but we took our lunch to the beach and got cooled down in the waves.
The colors of the sea here go from the darkest blue to a bright light turquoise. The blue sky, the nice breeze and the white sand...I need to pinch my arm to remind myself that it is real.
This is for sure an adventure.

 

"As we let our own light shine
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others"
N. Mandela

20 February 2009

The school mural is taking shape and the kids are doing so well with the painting.
We start at 1400 and go on till 1730 when the sun starts to set.

When we finish painting at the school in the evenings, we go to the beach to swim of the paint in the sunset.

The Blue wall will be our main fokus this weekend. We are getting to the end with the tracing.

This is what it hopefully will look like when it is done.

 

23 February 2009

Half way into my stay Leah and I are sitting on the beach watching the sun set over the turquoise water. We have taken half of Sunday off from painting and have been snorkeling, sketching and resting on the beach outside the house where we live.

The stay so far has been very good. But the contrast between the incredible beauty of this place and all the ruined houses, trees blown over, trash everywhere, boats tossed on land from the hurricane is hard to live with. Hurricane Ike hit the island five months ago. Some relief efforts have improved living conditions here, but there is still an overwhelming amount of rubble where buildings used to stand, downed electrical wires, and families living in tents. Every day we see local people content to throw their trash on the ground... adding to the rubble.

People here are living in poor conditions and it is difficult to get a hold of food. It makes you creative when it comes to coking and very thankful for what we have back home. A boat comes once a week to supply the entire island with groceries. Food cannot grow on this desert island. City water has been off for ten days. We are lucky to live on a cistern, but without gutters on our roof, we cannot collect rainwater and replenish our water supply.

We have come a long way with the blue community mural, working long hours. Midday has been terribly warm and we have a new understanding of the concept of Siesta. But we have some nice tanned shoulders :)And our hair is turning more and more blond as the days go by.

What was once a central building on Grand Turk was demolished by the hurricane. Only one rough wall remains. Now that wall is painted in bright blues and greens- visible from kilometers away. A community mural has the ability to build up a town in three ways: it encourages its volunteer painters in teamwork and artistic skill development, it brings community organizations into cooperation, and it gives shape to the unique identity of the community.

The challenge has been to get people to help; it's a large wall- 60 x 18 feet (20 x 6 meter) and the plan has been to involve the community.
Some people told us they would come and didn't show up. Others just arrived and want to help. Many are driving by and looking so it has been known on the island that we are doing this.
So this weekend we have been around 7-10 volunteers on and off so we have been able to get a lot done.

We will finish the School mural today and have a little ceremony with the children tomorrow.

After a week of painting its fun to see the work is starting to pay off.

 

24 February 2009

We had the celebration this morning and was together with all the children and the teachers at the school.

It was sad to say good by. We have enjoyed being around the kids and have some fun memories together after this week. Hard work, good learning and some colorful nature on the wall.

Here is the final work that we ended up with.
The children was proud of their work and enjoyed to see the finished mural.

Tomorrow Leah and i are leaving for another island called Provo. We are painting another mural at a youth center. We will stay there till the 1.march and i will fly home and Leah and Niel will continue to Pine Ciy, another island and do fund raising.

The adventure continues!

 

27 February 2009

We arrived in Provo two days ago. This island has a very different feel to it. It is shaped as a half moon, with beaches on each side and a highway running trough the hole island. More people live here (around 20.000), so it has more of a city feel.

Here there is much of everything. Nice hotel's, good restaurants, shops and more tourists. Its easier to get hold of what you need, but i have to say that i miss the uniqueness on Grand Turks.

We have spend time in meetings, talking to students and local artists. At the youth center they want a mural of a tree without leaves. Its an Aids awareness program that are working on a donation project.

A ceramic artist is making leaves in clay, that people can bye and get they're name signed on and it will be mounted onto the tree on the wall. As people get involved the tree comes to life and will grow. The project is called "the tree of hope". Its a good project and we invite some of the youths to take part in the painting.

Conch is a national dish here in these islands. So we could not leave this place without having tried it.

We went to a place called the "Conch shack" that was told to be the best in cooking this seafood dish.

On the beach we could see the boat came inn full with conch and the conch meat was hammered out of the shell.

After the meat is out and eaten, they polish the shells and sell them. I have to admit that i have had better seafood. The Curry Conch stue that i had was a bit rubbery for my taste, but now i at least can say thet i have tried it ;)

 

1 March 2009

A day in Paradise!

Over a lunch this last week , Leah and i was invited to go on a boat trip and visit an island called Pine Kay. Its 32 houses on this small island and a hotel with 13 beds. The rest is beaches with white sand and turquoise clear waters.

This turned out to be the best ending for this trip. To swim, snorkel, kayaking and debriefing lying on the warm sand.

I will leave this islands filled with impressions, colors, memories and a sense of a great adventure. I am sad to leave my good friend Leah, she will stay a few more weeks to finish the blue wall at Grand Turks before flying back to the US. But hopefully we will meet up again in not to long. Where in the world nobody knows...

Livet er ikke et problem som skal løses, men et mysterie som skal leves.....

"He who works with his hands
is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and head
is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands, head and heart
is an artist"

 

This is the end results of the blue wall and at the school.