Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Artist's Blog: San Lucas Arts Programme

Today's blog is written by Holly Howarth, 13A's resident Artist:

Crossing the Gulf of Nicoya from Puntarenas harbour towards the island of San Lucas, tides of excitement and trepidation churn in waves of equal measure as we approach a place of tragedy, heroism and regeneration. Where once San Lucas encapsulated the destructive nature of humanity as a penal island, it’s current status as national park symbolises the island as a place where humanity can protect nature.  
Paul's lizard

For twelve days, I undertook an arts programme with Alpha 5, with all this information swimming in our heads. As with the nature of the expedition, our activities revolved around the topics of environmentalism, as well as social justice. Whilst San Lucas is a protected habitat, it is not immune to the waste, dumped into the sea from neighbouring areas, which washes up on its beaches; therefore, it was an obvious choice of material for some of our projects.

My mission was to get everybody thinking about what can be achieved creatively with found objects, whether organic or man-made. Reflecting on Raleigh’s ethos of take only photos leave only footprints, our challenge was to be as considerate to the environment as possible. Often in art, permanence is considered the most valuable commodity; on San Lucas, temporality was our trademark. Our first day we were inspired by the artist Andy Goldsworthy, famous for his sole use of natural materials. Using driftwood on Playa de Coco, Anna, PM Sal and Nick created a conical sculpture in the middle of the beach.     
Andy Goldsworthy

Part of our time on San Lucas has been spent working on a path, connecting one end of the island to the other, thus improving access for the rangers, and there has been a lot of raking involved in the clearing. Taking inspiration from the beautiful Japanese tradition of raked gardens and their ability to draw attention to the contours of landscapes, we used our equipment to draw in the sand. Matt and Job took quite a philosophical approach to their work, creating work that surmised their outlook on life.
Working on Playa de Coco, it wouldn’t be right to omit coconuts from our programme! Emily and Gina set about finding items washed up on the beach and arranged them within coconuts, running down the beach. We wanted to demonstrate the interesting contrasts and compositions created from the found objects. It allowed us to consider the possibilities of how seemingly discarded things can be re-used. We then drew them in abstracted forms on paper.
Everyone was keen to continue using coconuts for their art sessions and so the next day PM Paul and Ben turned their creative hands to painting directly on them, creating really interesting designs, with some showing our adventures on the island. Afterwards, we gave a few to Chito, one of the rangers, as a means of saying thank you for all his help. They now have pride of place in their lodge!
Charlie and Greg did a fantastic job at sprucing the jetty up in time for Ben’s birthday. We made bunting out of the paper in our art kits and painted on pieces of driftwood. Ben was very impressed with our effort and it was a good excuse for the group to spend a little extra time by the sea!

In preparation for Gabby and Rich’s arrival (the road-trip crew visiting the different Alphas across Costa Rica) Jade and Kat set about designing signs to put around our campsite. They did an amazing job and the camp felt very much our own once the signs were up. 

The group, on the back of this, were keen to make a flag and demonstrate all our happenings since we arrived. Whilst the group set about painting onto an old t-shirt of Matt’s, Charlie demonstrated his artistic abilities on everyone else.
I set about the task for Olly and PM Kate to create a Cubist-themed drawing from one of the numerous animal skulls we picked up on the island, using any media that they liked. We determined that our subject was probably a dog’s skull, although we couldn’t be sure. Either way, they created a brilliant piece, which will go up at the Fieldbase exhibition during changeover.
Pablo Picasso

Valentine’s Day was a highlight - the group made brilliant cards (they're all romantics at heart). The project was to write a motto or saying that has a special meaning to them. Their ‘negative’ template was then used to create a frame in which to photograph through- an image which summed up for them their time on San Lucas. 
Maybe it was the location, the history, the nature, but I think the success of the arts programme on San Lucas was down to the enthusiasm of every individual in Alpha 5. Pura Vida! 


  1. For Nick Varney Alpha 5,

    Hey Nick its Harry. Hope all is going really well.
    Ipswich lost 2-0 to Watford today and Arsenal lost 3-1 to Bayern. I think Wenger is going to get the sack. Arsenal out of all competitions. Not good.
    I have seen lots of pictures of you and it all looks lovely. Hope all is good and you are having a good time. I will blog you again soon.
    Speak soon Harry xx.

  2. For emily elliott alpha5 - Em great to see the news from alpha 5 - looks like an amazing place, beautiful and peaceful but with important history.All at home are well and envious of your adventure. Hope you have seen a fewmessagesfromus now. Love dad x

  3. Nick Varney Alpha 5

    Hey Nicks
    Missing you soooo much. You all look like you are having so much fun.Sorry cannot give you any sport news I think Harry has done that. I do hope you have got some of my letters by now! Cant wait to speak to you. Love Mummy xxx

  4. Emilie Wesseling Apha 4

    Lieve Emo, hoe gaat het ermee lieve schat, jullie zullen inmiddels aardig verwilderd zijn......en lekker stinken; of gaan jullie iedere dag even zwemmen in de plaatselijk plomp. die zal er ook niet frisser op worden....met 16 zweterige lijven die iedere dag gespoeld moeten worden. Ga je straks toch weer iets meer genieten van je eigen badkamer met stromend water en een lekkere shampoo. inmiddels krijgen we thuis aan de hand van de Raleigh filmpjes een aardig idee van het werk dat jullie daar moeten doen; ziet er echt pittig uit en je vader krijgt al plaats vervangend rugpijn van al dat hakken en graven. En die dunnen werkhandschoenen die je bij je had waren op dat zware werk volgens mij niet echt berekend; was meer iets voor wat schoffelen in een stadstuintje maar niet geschikt om dagen achtereen midden in het oerwoud een weg uit te graven. ik hoop dat we snel wat meer te zien en lezen krijgen van Alpha 4; vergeleken met de reportages van de andere groepen zijn de berichten van alpha 4 betrekkelijk zuinig. heb ik de indruk dat niemand in jullie team aspiraties heeft om journalist te worden. Kan natuurlijk nog komen. we wachten het rustig af. Nog een paar dagen en je eerste project is al weer afgelopen. Ik hoop dat jullie wat tijd krijgen om tussendoor even bij te komen voordat het volgende project of de tracking begint. we moeten hier iedere dag heel erg aan je denken en verheugen ons erop snel iets van je te horen. Lieve Emo, heel veel liefs en dikke hugs,ook namens mama, papa

  5. Aan Anna Bakker

    Hallo Anna,

    Wat ziet alles er geweldig uit! Ben best een beetje jaloers op je hoor. Verheug me nu al op jouw verhalen bij thuiskomst.Het winterse weer is hopelijk volgende week voorbij. Ik heb twee weken geleden mijn pols gebroken. Het was glad; je kijkt uit, en dan toch lig je opeens op de grond.Ik moet nu alles met 1 (linker)hand doen. Heel lastig hoor. Wat fijn dat je dan zulke goede buren hebt! Dit was het even voor dit moment. Lieve groet, ook van Dirk, Yvonne.



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