This morning I left Barcelona. That could almost be the start of a novel because the word ‘Barcelona’ conjures up so much, and leaving Barcelona almost seems like a tragic statement. I had a wonderful month at the Jiwar Creation and Society residence where I was joined by (in no order) – a Japanese composer, a Dutch visual artist, an Australian photographer, and a Canadian academic. Just as I was leaving arrived an Argentinean composer and a Mexican journalist were settling in. Staying at Jiwar is thus a doubling stimulating experience: the city itself is a labyrinth you could wander in forever — and the eclectic international residents and their various perspectives creates a rich ‘home’ environment to work in.
Added to this, Mireia at Jiwar put me in contact with a Catalan writer (distantly Australian), and a Professor of Art History – both fabulous people who generously gave their time to listen to me talk about my work and offer insights and suggestions. I also met up with a politically active painter and shared extended conversations with two local historians. If that wasn’t enough, I made a few friends in a local Tapas bar, wandered through joyful rallies and spirited protests, and talked to people about the upcoming vote on October 1 for Catalan independence. I wrote every day.
I feel quite full to the brim with the experience, and ready to continue my novel back in Sydney. On the last night at Jiwar, we organised a small but significant reading of my work. It was a wonderful way to end the month. I can’t wait to come back and write this happier sentence: This morning I arrived in Barcelona.
Geoff Gates, Australian writer