Catherine Baker

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The Blue Waters Residency, Palanga, Lithuania 6th - 20th May 2012

I was invited to take part in this international residency last May. There were fifteen artists in total, coming from Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and Sweden. An artist from Africa couldn’t make it at the last minute, unfortunately.

The brief was to produce a painting in the two weeks about the Baltic Sea (Palanga is situated on that coast) and the history and culture of Lithuania. We stayed in a hotel and behind the hotel was an empty building which were to be our (freezing cold!) studios for that time.

The painting I produced was a response to what I felt are some of the co-existing strands to the culture of Lithuania : the strong Pagan mythical feel to the place typified by wooden carvings and sculpture in parks and churches; Christianity;and the shadows and scars from the Soviet era. I worked in thin layers of acrylic paint beginning with the colour of amber (which has its myth of origin and is found on the beaches), then with images taken from my sketches and a final layer of the many blues and greens of the Baltic Sea.

There are also dates repeatedly written in the sand, to symbolise bearing witness to the soviet tank invasion of 1991 and the human chain of hands held across the Baltic States in 1989 in protest against Soviet occupation. The residency was a fantastic experience and a great chance to meet artists from different countries and discuss ideas. All the artists produced such diverse work – it was fascinating to see all the other responses to the brief in the final exhibition in Palanga.

Residency artists outside the gallery 2012

Residency artists outside the gallery

Palanga beach 2012

Palanga beach

<em>Jura, Jurate 2012, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 120cm</em>

Jura, Jurate 2012