Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Artist's Blog: X-Rays 8, 10 & X-Ray 7

Phase 2 is almost at it's end - everyone is returning to Fieldbase throughout the day tomorrow and we cannot wait to hear the stories of everyones treks, environmental and community phases. Pictures and updates to come, but just to say that all teams have made incredible progress on their projects with the 3 trek teams completing over 270kms of terrain and we are proud to say we have finished our water project in Matapalo - an amazing achievement provding safe and clean water to families that were without it before. And so to the art from Phase 2:

Artist’s Blog:

International Women's Day: Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

Linda Nochlin, the American art historian, in 1971 published a seminal essay entitled 'Why Are There No Great Female Artists?'.
Guerilla Girls

Nochlin's essay not only tackled gender imbalance in the visual arts, but, presented her thoughts as part of a wider, socio-cultural issue; after all, it is visuality which is one of the key modes by which gender is culturally-inscribed into our society. The article offered an overview on the position of women both as practitioners and subjects.

Her motivation was to challenge the assumptions of traditional divisions, made in view of historical situations; put simply, she wanted to address how the domination of white male subjectivity throughout history, influences how 'we' interpret women within art and in society at large. The potency of the male-orientated stance influenced culture, Nochlin believed, because of the fact that it was often unacknowledged and thereby assumed as within the 'natural' order of things.

Nochlin's view on women's equality within art, as well as in other professional fields, omitted any blame on individual men, nor did she idolize particular women, but shone the spotlight on the nature of our institutional structures and the way people are educated within these remits; the supernatural powers of the 'Artist', emboldened from birth, nurtured by Mother Nature herself: an oft-repeated monologue, exemplified in Ancient Greek written sources, and found still, in early twentieth-century literature.

The temptation with any such question is to reel off lists of women artists that have been forgotten or previously ignored within the canon of art history. There's no denying that such arguments offer us a considerate amount of knowledge, but the risk is that by attempting to answer 'why are there no great women artists', it subtly reinforces the negative implications and overlooks the assumptions lying behind the question.

Often the problem rests not on what femininity is, and what being a woman artist entails, but primarily on the misconception of what essentially art is. It is somewhat naïve to think that art is a personal expression of individualism, autonomous from political circumstance: a translation of personal life into visual terms. The making of art involves a self-consistent language of form from defined social conventions, which are learnt within the limits of ones environment.

Asking 'why there have not been great female artists' questions the very concept of historicism, whilst recognising other social injustices, i.e. race and nationality (the limited representation of African-American artists, for example). When you start thinking about the 'why' you begin to realise to what extent our outlook on life, and what is 'normal' and 'usual', is conditioned.

Guerilla Girls

One attempt at rectifying the sparsity of women artists has been to answer Nochlin's question by asserting a different kind of 'greatness' to women's art that emphasises an identifiable feminine style, which seems reasonable enough: after all, women's experience and situation in society differ from men's. The problem is that correlating styles of women artists generally is futile, insomuch as attempting  to do the same for women in other fields, is equally pointless. In every instance, they would seem to be closer to other artists of their own period and outlook than to each other. Even categorising in terms of subject matter is problematic. Any 'traditional' and 'feminine' scenes have been the subject of male observance; Renoir and Monet consistently depicted domestic life and children, for example, throughout their careers.

It's also important to address how misconceptions of femininity at large, affect men. By retaining limitations on women, opportunities for men pervade traditionally 'feminine' roles, such as nursing or child-rearing, diminish; emotional realms remain largely out of bounds.

Nochlin concludes that 'why have there been no great women artists' is simply the tip of the iceberg. Clouded in misconception, underneath lies contentious ideals on the nature of art and human ability in general.

'What is important', concluded Nochlin, 'is that women face up to the reality of their history and of their present situation, without making excuses or puffing mediocrity... Rather, using as a vantage point their situation as underdogs in the realm of grandeur, and outsiders in that ideology, women can reveal institutional and intellectual weaknesses... and at the same time that they destroy false consciousness, take part in the creation of institutions in which clear thought-true greatness-are challenges open to anyone, man or woman, courageous enough to take the necessary risk, the leap into the unknown.'

Nochlin, Linda, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?, Art News 69 (January 1971), pp. 22-39.

Phase 2 Nicaragua Road Trip

On every phase, there are several road trips to visit all the Raleigh X-Rays. I, along with 'Logistics' Alice and Vanessa and Jess from Admin, embarked on a tour of the Nicaragua groups, visiting X-Rays 8, 10, 7 & 6 in Cabo Blanco, San Ramon, Miraflor and Achuapa.

We spent a few days with X-Ray 10 in the beautiful town of San Ramon, where they are currently building a pre-school for the community. Laden with paints, and more pencils than you can shake paintbrush at, we set about decorating one side of the existing school’s exterior wall. X-Ray 10’s Artist, Jess, did a fantastic job at co-ordinating the group; both she and Luke entertained the local children with some face-painting, although some felt that this wasn’t ambitious enough, and requested that their back be decorated instead! The Fieldbase team left the group in high spirits (and with most of the paints), with a plan to continue with the mural and to get the schoolchildren involved in another one. Excellent job guys!
After a fantastic couple of days with X-Ray 8, Thelma & Louise, plus two, drove up to Miraflor to see X-Ray 10 and their housing projects. Using what is known as ‘Adobe’, which is a mixture of mud and a moss commonly known as ‘old man’s beard’, the mixture is moulded, dried and then used as bricks. Before our departure from Fieldbase, the request from the group was that we do an art project involving the Adobe components. As it involved the prospect of being very messy there was no objection!

With this in mind, I took inspiration from the Pre-Columbian stone spheres found in sites across Costa Rica, to which archaeologists know very little of their origins and use. Otherwise known as Las Bolas, their anomalistic state has resulted in theories relating to cosmology and mathematics, but these have been inconclusive. What they do reveal is the engineered expertise of the communities who made them; some are said to be perfect dimensionally. The ‘bolas’ are made from limestone, sandstone or basalt and are believed to have been produced between 200 B.C and 1500 A.D by a Diquis culture.  

With the help of Ben, Jess and Emily, we set about making a giant mud ball which we then inscribed with images relating to the group’s experience of Miraflor; even Don José, who is one of the foremen and recipient of one of the houses being built! We allowed it to set a little and in the morning took a few pots of paint down and covered our bolas in an array of colours. Slowly the paint seeped into the sphere and our drawings began to show through. It looked stunning against the Miraflor backdrop.

Ben, Jess and Emily getting the ball rolling, literally

Don José lending a hand
Matt inspecting the end result
Our last stop in Nicaragua was the community of Matapalo in Achuapa. Our visit coincided with International Women’s Day and X-Ray 7 had prepared an afternoon of activities to mark the occasion, consisting of making flower garlands, face-painting and a game of pin-the-donkey.

Everyone in the community got involved and in the afternoon, with the help of Anna and the wonderful PM Antonio as interpreter, we put together a shadow puppet show. The story centred around the roles of the women within the community of Matapalo; one of the mums, Sylvia, created some beautiful templates of her home and the flowers that grow outside it. Raleigh has been installing gravity-fed water systems which will provide the residents of Matapalo with their own source of clean and safe drinking water and so we incorporated this into our show. We left the children with a heap of art supplies, (including plenty of glitter) and the materials needed for creating their own puppet show.

(Thank you again to everyone for their support and comments on the blog: moving forward all blog comments will be published if pertinent to the blog itself and personal messages will be delivered but not published - don't worry if you can't see them on the blogs, they don't go into the ether they are all received by each volunteer and are an incredible boost when living or trekking in remote parts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.) 


  1. Daniela Carranza X-RAY 5, Isla San Lucas.
    MIÉRCOLES 13 DE MARZO. Hola Chinita: te cuento hoy fuimos a Nandayuri, tomamos el ferri en Puntarenas ida y regreso, pasamos a unos 200m aprox. de la Isla San Lucas, la miré y la miré detenidamente en todo momento para ver si era posible verte y decirte adiós pero no me resultó. estoy muy contenta porque creo que mañana regresan a Turrialba y quizás podríamos conversar por teléfono, estaré esperando la llamada porque estoy ansiosa y entusiasmada. Lucy y Lulú te mandan muchos besitos y tu mamita abrazotes y besotes, que estés bien, te AMO muchoooo....CUIDESE TESORO.

  2. Hi Amy
    Hope our letter gets to you in time! Hoping to speak to you this wekend. You have the world in your hands! Love from the gang x

  3. For Philip Kolff

    he phil, ik hoorde dat je bezig/net klaar bent met je tocht van 3 weken. ik had ff op google maps gekeken en het zag er behoorlijk groot uit om van west naar oost te lopen haha! nou weet ik niet heel goed wat je gelopen hebt maar ik kan me goed voorstellen dat het zo nu en dan een ware hell moet zijn geweest. gelukkig had je je wandelschoenen al goed ingelopen dus dat moet geen probleem zijn geweest hahaha!! ik schrijf dit bericht op 14 maart, dus je komt over een kleine maand al weer thuis, het moet vast echt veel langer hebben geduurd voor jou dan voor ons hier. gelukkig heb je het tot nu toe vol gehouden anders hadden we je tegen deze tijd wel weer thuis gezien met een gebroken poot ofzo dus dat is in ieder geval een goed teken. hou de laatste weken nog ff vol en dan komen we je redden met je citroen wagentje haha!!
    geniet nu het nog kan van de laatste weken en zoals de grieken zeiden Carpe Diem! #yolo swag
    met vriendelijke groeten,
    de Heer J.S Merckx
    ookwel bekedend als je goede vriend Jasper.


    EMILYYYYY!!! I am so sorry it has taken me so long to send you a message but everytime I wanted to I could never figure out how to do it (yes I am retarded). Anyways I know it is coming to the end of your trip but I hope everything is going ok and you're making lots of friends and saving the planet. But anyways me and maria have decided to update you on our lives so its as if you're here with us.

    So it is nearly the end of first year (which is crazy), me and maria are still boyless (Me and Andy broke up again properly this time but I am ok don't worry). Maria has had a string of boys chasing after her - alex, sam, scott, fergus and bryant but alas none of them have worked out. Essentially nothing has changed since we left PG. Our courses are good (although im questioning what I can do with an archaeology degree), we are procrastinating far too much than we should be seeing as all the essays we have due in for next week have not impacted our time together - frankly we have seen each other in the past week and gone out more than we ever have before. ALSO we saw phoebe ray last night doing a gig in a club which was cool and took us back to our third year days. :)

    So far I have stuck to my group of friends (alex, lydia, dan, james, sara and Katie) and maria has her friends (will, Anissa, alex, ellie etc.) but now we are starting to make mutual friends so we can hang in a group and its all very exciting. We see megan a few times a month as shes always flitting here and there with a different boy on her arm. Kitty is still in Australia shacked up with brad, Oonagh.. well thats a different story completely. Tell her to update you on her wild ways. We literally just got back from brunch with Kathy, Megan and AIsha and were just reliving the fun Barcelona times and were saying how we missed your comments on the PG group (its slightly dead now). We do not know what alyi and Dulcie are doing but we imagine they are having fun and miss you too haha. OO also we saw your sister outside our brunch restaurant but she just walked past so she didn't see us.

    We can't wait to see you again so we can have a proper PG reunion and we love you so much. We are not sure whether you can reply to us, but if you can please do so you can update us on your life!


  5. Mary McSporran X-Ray 2
    I hope you receive this before it is time for you to leave field camp. I know you are due back today. No doubt you are nursing your feet, I hope the boots have held out you will need them in Peru!
    Just thought I would give you a quick up date hopefully before we speak so you are up to speed. Sarah, Karen, Lesley & I had fun celebrating your birthday. Hope you enjoyed some celebrations too. They were all asking about you and looking at the blog. Dad is home & will have lots to tell you about Peru, he even managed to check out your hotel in Lima.
    Grandma S. is much better & is now in a room downstairs, Grandma M. is still in Spain & still having poor weather. Saw Helen Brad.... yesterday & the wedding is off, she is probably going to stay with her brother in Boston.
    James finishes for easter next week he passed all his esays & has his exam timetable he has 5 exams between 10th & 27th May so not too bad.
    No doubt it will be hard saying your goodbyes but you have lots to look forward to & will be able to keep in touch through the blog for the next 3 weeks.
    Enjoy the last of this experience can't wait to talk to you Lots of love Mum & Dad xxxx

  6. for Philip Kolff

    Lieve Philip, volgens mij ben je vandaag terug op basiscamp na je super track van 270 km. Zo knap van je en we zijn zo benieuwd naar je verhalen. Ik heb je een sms gestuurd weer via vriendin van Q die bij jou zit naar haar telefoon. Probeer iets terug te schrijven. Hier gaat alles goed,het is nog steeds winter achtig, dus snuif alle zon goed op! Dikke zoen en love you, mama

  7. To mark Saville X Ray 4
    Hi mark Think by now ur latest project must be coming to an end so hope it has been ok even if almost a repeat of what u did on the community project! Hope to hear ur news in due course.
    All our love Miss u
    Mum xx

  8. Para Ignacio Sancho X-Ray 9, hola mi amor, se me había olvidado que ya empezaron las clases, tengo que coordinar con la profesora encargada de la carrera, después le aviso cómo me fue, espero que sigas muy bien y extraño muchísimo, te quiero chao

  9. Nick Varney X Ray 1
    Hi Nicky, think you are getting back to fielbase today sometime. Cannot wait to hear all your news, Daddy and I around friday night but Saturday night have a thing at Radley from 7.30pm hope to speak to you really soon. Love and miss you so much. Mummy, Daddy and Dottie xxxx ps your phone is now on pay as you go - let's hope it works x

  10. To : Jess Nineham (X-Ray 8)
    From: Mum

    Hi Darling. Been catching up with all the progress with Raleigh's projects on the blog and have seen you in lots of pictures. So nice to be able to see you. You look so happy in all them. I am so proud of you Jess!! I know I keep saying that but it's because you, and all the other volunteers, are doing such a worthwhile thing in tough conditions, helping the less fortunate than you. You're a star!! :)
    Miss you lots and love you to bits!!!
    Mum xxxx

  11. A message for Conrad Hagger - X-Ray 8

    Hi Conrad,

    I hope you are well luvvie and enjoying building seriously BIG stuff.
    You'll be on your way to change over now if not already there when you get this. Just to let you know mum is trying to put money on your phone and should have it sorted by tomorrow (Friday 15th). But don't go online with your phone. Text us if you want to know anything and we,ll get right back to you.

    I've written you an actual letter,but I don't think it will get there before this change over,but maybe you'll get it dropped off to you. Nothing in it of grat import

  12. Another message for Conrad Hagger - X-Ray 8

    Hi Conrad,

    Again my iPad froze while writing to you via the blog - sorry. At least you get two messages for the price of one. I was finishing off by saying that the letter I have written contains nothing of great import, but I wanted you to get something tangible from the old country.

    We are all well, but Minnie has not been well for the last three or four days. So Mum and I took her to the vet this evening as she looked utterly tragic and woebegone. They have kept her in over night to get her on a drip to get her rehydrated. They've also done a battery of tests and called us back to say they have found that she has a condition where she can't make enough adrenalin. So she is now being kept in for a couple of days to get her stabilised and sorted and she'll have to have a tablet every day, but she'll be fine. I'll keep you posted.

    I'm sure you've heard we now have a new Pope. Pope Francis from Argentina.

    Enjoy the burgers, pizzas, steak, pizzas and not forgetting burgers at change over.

    Take care my lovely.
    Dad XXXXXX

  13. Louise PM X-Ray 3. Hi Louise, we arrived in Mexico yesterday evening, after an 11 hour flight sat next to the toilet!!! Whew !!! The hotel here is very good so far, good food, clean and everybody very welcoming. There's quite a bit of wildlife here too. Think we will have a nice relaxing time.... a bit like you ! ha ha. Hope you are well and getting ready to celebrate your birthday in style. love Dad xx

  14. Message to Merle Boontje (was in X-Ray-6); ha lieverd, heb al mijn best voor je gedaan. Je kunt je ticket wijzigen voor 200 euro dus geen probleem :). Ga maar eens even goed nadenken wat je dan wilt.
    Het is handoig als je flexibel bent i.v.m. de beschikbaarheid en ook de prijs van de tickets op de dag dat je wilt reizen (kan namelijk ook weer ddurder worden als je op een dag wil vliegen waarop de prijzen hoger liggen) Er is vooralsnog genoeg beschikbaarheid richting eind april, evenals in mei, waarbij aangetekend dat eind van de meivakantie (4 en 5 mei) geen beschikbaarheid is en op 1 mei nauwelijks.
    Maak maar een plan en laat het me weten morgen. Dan kunnen we voordat je op trek gaat eventueel een wijziging doorvoeren. Ticket krijgen is geen probleem, ik sein dan je boekingsnummer naar jou door en jij meldt je op de luchthaven bij Delta Airlines. Je ziet meis, de weled ligt voor je open.
    Heerlijk om je zo blij te horen gisteren. Geweldig.
    Geniet van de luxe in het basecamp en we horen van je. Dikke kus, je mams

  15. Message to Merle Boontje (X-ray-6);
    Ha meis, nog even een kleine toevoeging over eventuele verlenging; probeer binnen de 90 dagen te blijven dat je zonder visum in Costa Rica mag zijn anders moet je naar de immigratiedienst in San Jose en kan men hier in Nederland niet inschatten hoe men daar omgaat met vias. Als je binnen de 90 dagen zou blijven moet je uiterlijk 26 april terugvliegen (27e en 28e is er geen plek in het vliegtuig).
    Dikke kus, mama

  16. For Denise Hurden Zulu 6
    Well De here you are on your last project, hope its goes as well as your previous two, try not to get sun stroke this time, but most of all have a great time.
    Thanks for the loan of your watch whilst we are in USA, mine seems to be on the blink!!!!
    We are going down to a resort not far from Augusta for four nights on the Sunday so will be even nearer you, but it will not be anywhere near as hot as where you are.
    Sandra doesn't believe you are really putting yourself through what she would call torture and has seen a different side to you. Your Dad and I have always known that you are capable of
    looking after yourself no matter what. Know that we are extremely proud of what you are doing to help others and are really looking forward to you coming home minus any wild life.
    Your Dad might well be cutting your lawn when we are next down that way, no charge.
    Love MDxx

  17. This is just pure joy to read...well done everyone

  18. EVERYONE there should know that there are LOADS of people back home, who admire what ALL of you do, and whilst liking the idea that you as individuals and the people you touch in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, ALSO raise spirits and enthuse all those who read and recognise what you are doing. You are truly admirable!
    A SERIOUS Admirer

  19. For Abigail Hayward
    Hi Abs! How are you? Hope your leg and arm are feeling better and your ankle has untwisted! The parents have emailed me from Namche Bazaar, which means they've survived the plane journeys and yaks and are on their way up. It freezing and going to snow apparently so they're going to freeze their socks off at Base Camp! The dog is also fine, she's gone to Anna Persson (!) for 2 weeks. Anna rang me to ask how much food to give her, and I said more than Mummy mwahhahahahaha. Anyway, hope you're ok, have an amazing last few weeks, can't wait to see you. All my love Olivia xxxxx

  20. Monique Quint-Kozel20 March 2013 at 16:51

    Voor Denise Quint,

    Hallo lieve Nies, ik heb net wat foto's gezien op jullie blog. Over je tijd in San Ramon. Geweldig wat jullie voor de kinderen en hun families daar hebben kunnen betekenen. Het zal een onvergetelijke belevenis zijn om zo binnen de gemeenschap daar opgevangen te worden. We vinden het heerlijk voor je dat je inmiddels alweer een paar dagen met het derde project aan de gang bent. En zo we uit je enthousiaste telefoontje van zaterdag hebben begrepen ben je ingedeeld in een favoriet project. We zijn heel benieuwd hoe het nu met je gaat. Met ons gaat het goed. Papa is voor een paar dagen in Moskou. Vinnie hard aan de studie in Amsterdam. En morgen heb ik het galafeest met Valentijn in Utrecht. Je gelooft het niet, ik heb een gala jurk aangeschaft, best mooi! Het feest is in Central Studios in Utrecht. Daar hebben jullie toch je schooleindexamenfeest georganiseerd? Je hoort nog wel hoe het allemaal gelopen is. Lieve schat, we missen je........! Voor nu, wensen we je nog een ongelofelijk mooie tijd op dat eiland en we horen nog wel wat je plannen verder zijn! Een hele dikke kus van ons allemaal, Vincent, Valentijn, oma, opa,pappa en mama. Vincent heeft ook een paar maal geprobeerd een berichtje op de blog voor jou te plaatsen, dit was nog niet gelukt! Veel liefs, tot gauw, mama

  21. Andrea Salas Ruiz21 March 2013 at 14:43

    Para Alejandra Salas Ruiz 13A- Parque Nacional Carara

    Janrrrrryyyy!!!! Tía salio excelente en la operación, no tuvieron que quitarle nada del intestino, porque estaba sano. Por lo que solo le quitaron un pedazo del higado. Pero esta perfectamente... Muchos Besos, ya te quiero ver.. Te amo!!! :)

  22. For Amelia with XRAY 4
    Hi Amelia, hope you're well and enjoying the trek.I've searched the blog for news of xray 4 but found nothing -not even further news re the last project Pazienza!Heard from Daniel who mentioned that you had said something about a bandage on your hand -try to take care of it so that it doesn't get infected or sunburnt..etc. Just spoke to J re travel bag for next round -you need a 'soft'bag rather than a hard suitcase -so maybe the blue bag you have there -if it survives this trip!We are probably both coming to the airport but haven't decided in which car!
    The days are flying by now and before you know it you will be back so make the most of it and enjoy every minute - try to keep up journal and photos- in the one photo posted of your group on the trench project I noticed you had your camera with you!
    Here it is still winter and very cold -boring grey sky all the time...
    Kate and Paul had a boy called Michael -all went well- Carole and Stan elated grandparents!
    Nojma has left two messages wishing you well and sending good wishes for a happy seder.
    Uncle Rob says hi.Colin says 'hello and look after your left hand in particular'.
    I am as usual busy and getting ready to go to see Nonno.
    I have charged your phone.
    We are all fine and all send our love-hope your boots are still holding together!
    Lots of love -Mum xxx



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