Artists interviews - 2017
Caitlin Staebell - Actor
USA - July - August 2017
I am an actor who was called to spend time in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, two months with Trina and Daniel at their home. My life is changed because of my time here, which led to even more experiences I couldn't have dreamed of or considered while I was at home planning. I suggest keeping an open heart, and allow the path to be unveiled for you, one step at a time. You will not regret your strengthened ability to listen to your true heart.
The synchronicity and ease with which I was able to find Sachaqa Centro de Arte was the universe working in conjunction with my deepest desires and highest form of self. I discovered their residency program through ResArtis, an online international database of residencies. Pachamama sang out to me through Trina's photos of the River de Cumbaza, the two-story earth lodge hut, through their pup Arcoiris, and through they themselves. To my astonishment and obvious realization, my future, past, and present self converged as I sat in the hammock on my porch at Sachaqa and listened to the monkeys chirp, watching them jump through the trees while I sipped my fresh Peruvian morning coffee. Even that sentence! I had read Trina's description of this experience! Swimming in the River, creating in the studio space, the earth houses, the communal kitchen, and where I stayed, the individual hut with its own compost toilet - had been imagined by me months earlier. My dreams more than came true - Trina, Daniel, and their kids hold a magical place for the most harmonious experiences.
This is not a place, however, to think all will be simple, relaxing and taken care of for you. If this is something you need, there are other places. This home offers you an opportunity to learn how to live in the Amazon jungle, walking up the hill to get home, wringing out your laundry, lighting palo santo to rid your room of mosquitoes at dusk, being aware of jungle life.lo. Not to alarm you (you'll have a mosquito net for night time, and it's never graceful to get into, so give it up :) but this is somewhere to be aware, and to perhaps expand your comfort zone. You'll have a refrigerator and a propane stove, and you'll need to boil your drinking water - but as a vegan I loved everything about this. Food can be purchased in town, and larger items like olive oil can be purchased in Tarapoto.
San Roque de Cumbaza is also a glorious place of life, activity, and community. I was lucky to be there during the biggest annual Festival Patronal in July. There was dancing and music through the night. Kids made paper lanterns and walked them through the roads in a parade, and I danced with Amirda, one of the San Roque cooks, until 2am! You'll get to know two restaurants in the village, and you'll become familiar with swimming in the magic River as a way to refresh yourself on a hot afternoon. On one occasion, a group made up of artists, travelers, and the community of San Roque held a storytelling evening where some of the most curious and creative souls I met gathered to tell how San Roque had impacted their lives. The evening was one of the best in my time on earth. You're able to bring yourself, nothing more or less, and be welcomed whole heartedly without a moment's hesitation.
Trina and Daniel will lead you with advice on where to go, what to see, where to travel locally, and even take you on tours themselves. Daniel took a group of us to the waterfall, where I recited my monologues and filmed for a project. This is also an idyllic place to write, to reset, to allow you to be whatever you need for your greatest good. I took full advantage of this and slowed myself down and lived. While very challenging, as I believed I was always needing to do or accomplish something, I accepted this was perhaps the programming of my culture, and did what I could to let that go. Trina and Daniel, along with the other artists, were pivotal in helping me understand this aspect of my process, while asking questions and pointing out alternative perspectives. While there I participated in a shadow puppet show another artist had organized, jumped on board with an interactive art installation, and created a short film highlighting the Festival Patronal.
I mean, you really cannot go wrong with choosing Sachaqa, either for a residency or a place to stay. There will always be an adventure, each day revealing the wise words of Pachamama through rays of sun or drops of rain.
Charlotte Jolly - Painter
New Zealand - November 2017
My time at Sachaqa was like stepping into a bubble. Trina and Julie spoke about San Roque as the unplugging of the matrix. Goodbye high-velocity image consumption and aggressive globalization. Hello, trees, monkeys and bugs. Hello, slow-paced, simple, sweet life. Being so removed brought clarity to mind that I have never experienced anything like. Days consisted of waking, drinking a lot of local coffee, painting, reading and daily dips in the Cumbaza river to cool down. This simplicity was a beautiful base for creativity.
Julie Kim - Painter
Seattle USA - October 2017
I decided to come to Peru for a change of scenery and abundant landscapes. I picked Sachaqa because it is in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by nature and away from big cities. I’ve lived my whole life in the city so I really wanted to experience the opposite.
I previously painted with oil colors but recently I have been questioning my materials. I decided I wanted to work a bit more freely, travel-friendly, non-toxic and produce less waste in my practice. This is what sparked my interest in natural pigments.
I spent the first week exploring waterfalls and nearby towns. Along the way I collected the rocks to turn into natural watercolor paint with gum arabic I brought from home.
Elien Noppe - Illustration
Belgium - September 2017
Although, in the beginning of my time at Sachaqa I struggled with the differences between my world and the world in the Amazon rainforest. The luxury I live in – makes me very empty and the poorness in the jungle – make people's life very rich.
I decided to mix my world with their world and made myself a few goals: Desolate landscapes, escaping to a paradise, a search for boundaries of fiction, the quietness of nature, I create mooring people and place them in this beautiful setting.
Virginia Fisher - Illustration
UK- November 2017
I had a wonderful experience during my two-week stay at Sachaqua. The tranquil jungle setting was perfect for the self-reflection and healing that I intended to do alongside and in conjunction with my painting. I started off wanting to create a piece promoting vegetarianism and animal welfare but soon felt that a more personal painting would be better. With the inspiration from Trina's work and our many discussions about plant medicine and healing, I looked inside myself and at visions, I had experienced in the past. I went on to paint 'metamorphosis' which is a reflection of my current position on the spiritual path. A cosmic being on her way home back to the infinite universe, through unblocking her chakras and healing with meditation and plant medicine. Other than the art, I also enjoyed a great hike in the jungle with Daniel with stunning views and a river for a much-needed cool dip!
Mathilda Dujardin - Mural artist
Belgium - June 2017
Tell me about the mural you made here in San Roque De Cumbaza?
The mural is called ‘Who worked, the weaver or the weaving?’ Created with natural pigments collected around the village.
I started by drawing a woman of San Roque origin, weaving a chumbe. The idea was that she was weaving not only a chumbe but the whole jungle … the more the process progressed, the more I realized that it was not she who created the domain but the domain that created her.
Lately, I am reflecting on the idea of creating non-anthropocentric stories, stories where the human is not at the center of everything. Supported by a stream of thinkers, philosophers of science and the Pre-Columbian cosmovision. They speak clearly of the natural cataclysms that are effecting our planet, due to our human carelessness. Using the earth as if we had a hold on it, and not as if it were part of us. To have a better relationship with our surroundings, and what inhabits us. We are part of the planet, and we also carry the universe in us. To diminish the speed of its destruction and ours – demands an urgent change of consciousness, a revolution of thought and habits of life.
Nora Teichert - Visionary Illustrator and Travel Blogger.
Germany - January 2017
Interview with Nora-
Why did you choose an artist retreat in the Amazon Rainforest?
I came to Sachaqa in search of creativity, as a digital nomad blogger I needed the space and time to focus on my work and create art without any distractions.
Sachaqa is a great place to work and the fact it is situated in the rainforest, provided plenty of inspiration, nature, culture, legends, spiritual healing, far away from the usual distractions, providing a space where I could connect with myself.
Why was Sachaqa a spiritual place for you?
The connection with nature; you are forced to spend time with it, forced to deal with the intense noises, so much energy…. natural energy….feels really good, you are connected to the soul of the forest. Nature grounds you, opening the door to the spiritual process, a type of meditation.
Poland - February 2017
Interview with Suzie Brezinska –
How did other artists influence you?
The artists staying at Sachaqa are a big contrast to the people I am usually surrounded by. I’m not around artists so much. Creativity is not indulged like it is here. The artists are young and can be themselves – unashamedly so. I felt that inspiring.
Other artists understand the need to be alone in our creative process, which I found really refreshing.
How do you think the contact you have had with nature in the Sachaqa eco-lodge will affect your life and work?
It is going to be really hard to integrate into city life again. Living here has scraped away at the city layers within me – the constant noise, stress, pollution and fast living. Things you have to put up with on a day to day basis. It puts everything into perspective when you are away from city luxuries, all the trappings of city life and all the things you think you need, such as gadgets, trinkets, clothes, indulgent comforts. I could strip away from all that here and it will be really hard to go back.
Anu-Laura Tuttelberg - ‘Puppet Animator
Estonia - Visitor July 2016 - interview March
Interview with Anu-Laura -
How has being part of a residency in the Amazon rainforest affected your art practice?
Staying at Sachaqa gave me the chance to communicate with other artists. I mostly work alone in a studio, so this aspect was really different. It was nice to meet good people from around the world with a common interest. It takes a certain type of person to do an artist residency in such an extreme jungle setting.
Amazon was perfect for my work, as I went with a nature film in mind. After spending a few weeks in the jungles of Brazil and Mexico, I became inspired to make a short film in a tropical setting.
Although there were many challenges in the jungle, which I had not considered while preparing my trip. I usually work in a controlled studio and the natural environment is completely different in Estonia. There is such a difference in light in San Roque and the day starts and ends at 6. The humidity is relentless on electrical equipment. My puppets which use a lifetime resistant glue, melted in a couple of weeks. So I had to constantly repair them, which are delicate and take time.
Mercedes Llanos - Painter
Argentina - February 2017
Interview with Mercedes -
You stayed in Sachaqa as a part-time volunteer – how was that?
Volunteering at Sachaqa was an exceptional experience. I never anticipated that a month in San Roque would change my life so much. Thanks to volunteering, I had the opportunity to really get close to the people in the village. By creating tourist routes and writing about them, I became friends with many people and learned about their life. The simplicity of the local people has motivated me a lot, encouraging me to follow my own life in a very similar way. How nice it is to realize that one really does not need almost anything to live happily.
What did you achieve at Sachaqa?
I Painted, made many drawings and clarified my thoughts through writing. Life in San Roque gave me everything I needed and more. Living in the Amazon jungle was like returning to my place of origin. I felt at peace, which I had not felt in a long time.
I learned to love myself and learned to celebrate and express my sensitivity. I think those achievements are absolutely irreplaceable.
USA - July 2017
Since I can remember I’ve been searching for something to believe in. The jungle provided me with spiritual and scientific information that has aided me in my research. During my time in San Roque I was met with different personal obstacles and offered multiple solutions on how to overcome these. My research is ongoing and incomplete and maybe always will be. Being in an intensely spiritual environment challenged my confidence in my own beliefs and I questioned whether or not I had any. My research began years ago with these questions, and I am grateful I was reminded of them once again. Although I did not choose a spiritual path at this moment, I feel like I have been given additional tools for my own self-discovery and creative process. My work during the residency focused on learning different ceramic, pigment and drawing processes derived from nature, and passed down through generations of practice. I have returned home with new insights about my own environment and knowledge on how to create art within my own ecosystem. I met many incredible people, made beautiful friends, and learned valuable lessons. After returning to The States I have developed several new proposals for projects and have started installing for a show at a small contemporary art gallery in Lowell, MA about my time in the jungle. I am excited to apply my newly acquired knowledge about traditional earthenware and natural pigments to my own countries landscape during my next adventure driving across the United States.
Germany - January 2017
Interview with Svenja -
It was great to meet Artists who work in different mediums and fascinating to learn how different people think about art. Good to see other people’s creative process, open chats in the communal house, deep conversations, no one is there to impress, people are real and relationships are open.the other artists influence you?
How did you find the natural pigments and
For me it was a breakthrough, to learn new possibilities in painting. To discover the pigments for myself, in the rivers and paths. I will defiantly continue looking when I get back to Cyprus. I love the natural paper too and would love for Daniel to send me more when I get back home.
Svenja Hohlt - Painter and make/up artist for films and theater
Sian Luxford - designer/illustrator
UK - February 2017
Interview with Sian-
What artwork have you been working on at Sachaqa?
My artwork ‘Herbal Designs’ are a combination of herbal medicine and botanical pattern. This is formed by replicating the remedies as a design. I designed 3 prototypes at Sachaqa for screen printing in the UK – on a collection of wallpapers and silk textiles. I will experiment dying with some natural dyes, bought at the Pisac market in Cusco.
I’ve created a set of Amazonian tinctures from local plants, which remain at the center. Please try them if you are visiting Sachaqa (see below for a list of plant tinctures and their healing properties.)
Sian’s Recipes –
What is the recipe for a plant tincture?
Firstly pick your chosen plant on a full moon as this is when their healing properties are most potent. Fill an amber coloured jar with 2/3 of the herb, then pour in organic vodka to the top. At Sachaqa Daniel and I experimented with 100% raw sugar cane extract as the solvent. Next, label jar with name of plant and date. Think of an intention you’d like to put into the medicine, feel it, and then blow it in. Leave the tincture in a dark place for 7 weeks. Swishing it around once a day. This enables an effective extraction of the essence.