New to the neighbourhood


When I came to Jiwar artist residency I knew that Jiwar was all about neighbourhood and held a philosophy of life that was consistent with neighbourhood values and bridging experiences.  Shortly after I arrived the artists in residence were invited to attend the rehearsals of Gracia Castellers one of the most typical performances of Catalan culture.  The Castellers, local people of all ages, were gathered in an inner courtyard with ample vertical space. It was possible to watch them climbing upwards from ground level, or rising towards you (like yeast bread dough rising)  if you were on a high balcony.  The performances were precise and physically strenuous, but at the same time a truly emotional expression of close-knit community. It seemed clear to me that a creative and sustainable relationship between neighbours was already well established in the district of Gracia. In fact it seemed that the challenge to me as an artist was to try to catch up.

The castles were constructed and deconstructed very quickly. Just like other performances they were at once solid and fleeting, both grounded and ephemeral. What followed was invigorating and at times hilarious high speed “gesture” drawing.   Back in the studio this body of sketches from life became the foundation for a series of works on paper and continued to influence other series like Variations on recent themes and Turquoise after my residency at Jiwar.

‘Ephemeral’ draft 11, Oil on primed watercolour paper, H 72cm x W 54cm; © Antonia McGuane

‘Ephemeral’ draft 11, Oil on primed watercolour paper, H 72cm x W 54cm;   © Antonia McGuane


Antonia McGuane

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