A Bulgarian Midsummer Night's Dream

Though every day seems eternal, time at the Old School Artist Residency in Gorna Lipnitsa is passing too fast. There is so much to do: We spend all day creating artwork, talking and enjoying the delicious bulgarian food, and at the end of the days we explore the hills surrounding this little village, walking through endless sunflower fields and searching the horizons for mounds. The earth here is full of archeological treasures yet to be discovered. It's the past, waiting for the future. 

Today, we have been to Nikopolis ad Ipsum, a roman city and excavation site near Gorna Lipnitsa.
I brought back some wise advice from the column I'm standing on in this picture, inscribed in old greek: (…) Short will be the path of the light we yearn for. Therefore drink and live a careless live. You have the day light. Listen: Once our soul departs, you will be deprived of all these things. Fare well, stranger. 

Here we have a unicorn without horn, somewhere in the hills of Gorna Lipnitsa.

I don't sleep much here. Sleeping almost seems like a waste of time, and I feel that I don't want to miss anything in these few days we have left here. The atmosphere in the old school is hard to describe. It's simply magical, with all this special people from England, Mexico, Poland, the US and Bulgaria working together and exchanging ideas and having fun together. It's a good life here. After work, we spend the night drinking bulgarian beer, dancing around the fire and watching the stars. The star spangled sky of the bulgarian countryside has an addictive effect on me. I have never seen a more impressive night sky than here. It is here that for the first time I saw the milky way, and it is definitely the most beautiful thing I've ever seen; but that's a poor description; it's beyond beautiful. I try to soak up the sky until I almost fall asleep, because I don't know when and where will I see such a night sky for the next time. 

Here is a picture I took of the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, although this lousy picture of course does not even get close to how the sky actually looks here.

There are only some days left for our final exhibition on the 26th of August, and we are all working hard to complete our projects. Photography, felt art, installations, photography, mural painting – everything is advancing, and I'm very looking forward to our exhibition.
I have continued to paint on the beautifully yellowed paper of an old class register I have found in one of the classrooms, and I'm also painting on a few objects I found, experimenting with patterns of constellations, black holes, astronomical and thracian symbols. 
Here's what I've been working on the last couple of days:

Bottled Universe. 

Some of the Zodiac signs of all the participants of the residency. 


An old school full of art and stars

Some days ago I arrived in Gorna Lipnitsa, a small, sleepy village in Central Bulgaria, a place far off the beaten track. It is beautiful, full of small houses built from stone and lush gardens hiding behind stone walls. The streets are lined by mirabelle and apple trees. Stork nests on the chimneys, geese wandering around and wooden carts pulled by horses crossing the street evoke the feeling of living in an old fashioned children's book, an atmosphere interrupted only by the many obituary notices pinned on every house door and wall. At night there is nothing but the sound of the soft wind rustling through the trees. It is so quiet that you can hear the apples falling from the trees.

In Gorna Lipnitsa, there is an old abandoned school which once a year, during summer, is turned into an artist residency. Artists from all over the world come to the village and work together with Bulgarian artists in a very special atmosphere. This year I am one of them.

The theme for our work are the star rituals of the Thracians, an ancient culture that populated Bulgaria in the second century BC, before the arrival of the Greek. Their god was Zalmoxis, who is believed to have been the student of Pythagoras. They worshipped Orpheus and believed in eternal life.They also believed that they were children of the Universe and positioned their mounds according to the constellations.

They left the hills around Gorna Lipnitsa full of mounds, the earth full of archeological treasures and the air full of myths.

Besides the Thracians, there is a second source of inspiration: the old school building itself, which has been out of use for around a decade. It is a big single storey building with green painted walls, standing in a park with giant linden trees, and it seems as if the school has been frozen in time since communist era.

There are pictures of Marx and Lenin still hanging in the corridors, and the furniture is so vintage it could seem contemporary in another context.

There is still lots of old school equipment – instruments, books and maps are lying around everywhere, material we can use to create our art – I have already found lots of curious stuff I will use to create my work.

Here is a sneak peek:


Entre Estrellas y Encinas – Linocuts from Castilla y León


Poeta sin Poemas


Encuentro entre Encinas