It’s been one week since I returned to London and I’m still brimming with good vibes from my trip to Portugal. I not only travelled around the South in a caravan, I also had the opportunity to spend 8 days in a beautiful village in central North Portugal, Gois, making music and exploring the collaborative process with nine other artists. Together with Filipe Sousa, I organized this residency in order to explore the idea of a creative collective, a group of people that support each other’s processes, learn from one another, and ultimately create together. We were eager to involve artists from multiple disciplines in this process, and so we invited one visual artist and one physical theater practitioner to round out the group, mostly formed of musicians.
We were hosted by a residency center, RaizVanguarda, provided with a beautiful house to stay in, a concert hall, an abandoned garden, and of course the town, to work in. We found ourselves very inspired by the place itself. We decided that for our first morning we would take walks around the town to gather inspiration. Over the course of the following week, people came together in small groups to follow the threads of those seeds, and by the end of the week, we had a wide variety of material to share, much of it connected to our experience in Gois.
We also took some time to try and share our practices with each other. Rebecca Kenny, our resident actress, led a workshop on physical theatre, while Lucy, our resident visual artist, took us through an exploratory process to respond to the square that we lived next to. Lucy’s workshop culminated in a live durational performance in the square shaped by the sounds of the church bells and the people that passed through.
The residency concluded with a performance in our concert hall for a packed audience of local friends, mostly people who had encountered us playing around the town at some point, and were curious to understand what we were up to. RaizVanguarda usually hosts visual artists, so I think we were some of the first musicians to be planted within the town proper, and I believe our sounds truly captivated people. It was such a pleasure to share our work with an audience, but more importantly, it was important to see for ourselves what we had accomplished.
Ultimately, I was very pleased that we’d managed to pull off the project at all! I learned so much from organizing it, as well as trying to participate in it as an artist, and Filipe and I left with many ideas about what we want to do next. This won’t be the last time we do a residency in Gois, and it certainly won’t be the end of the story as far as Portugal is concerned. I’m really looking forward to returning next year with a new project to develop and share!