Lorene Taurerewa: Diary from Nepal

New York-based, NZ artist Lorene Taurerewa has recently embarked upon a residency in Kathmandu, Nepal. Lorene keeps in touch with us at Artists Alliance and has agreed to let us publish her recent email from Nepal along with some stunning images she has taken on her arrival at the residency.

“…I am in Kathmandu, Nepal, having the time of my life on an artist in residency program at the Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Center. I am based at the Patan Museum, a UNESCO site and one of the oldest museums in South East Asia, where I have my studio in the garden at the rear of the museum. I am one of three international artists and we pay a small fee for the studio, which helps to support local Nepali artists, who get to spend  up to 6 months in a studio space they might otherwise not afford.

It has been crazily busy with so much to see and do. My first two weeks were spent walking and taxying all over the city looking at temples, stupas and palaces. The major religions are Hindu and Buddhism and the people are always busy doing something in the temples, which seem to be everywhere, worshipping, ringing bells, singing, dancing, drumming, chanting and so much more. The people are a big part of the charm of this place, colourfully dressed and always patient and friendly which, when one considers Nepal is a third world country, with no infrastructure to speak of, is amazing! 
I am enjoying the natural beauty too, the Himalayan mountains, their peaks, can be seen in the distance from the roof of my apartment, which at certain times of the day, early morning and sunset, are incredible. There is something about the light and the colour of the sky, which is always the same shade of brilliant blue everyday, that makes everything feel good. And, even though it’s winter the nights freezing, the days are warm and sunny and there is plenty of time for basking in the heat. Time is forgotten and the pace of life slow and peaceful. 
My studio is now working well and I have a number of paintings under my belt and working on some larger drawings too. There aren’t any art shops here so I am having to hunt for materials in very strange places. I can’t find paper but I stumbled on a very small dark shop down a dusty alleyway and after poking around in the dark (there are power outages here and every six hours the power moves from one side of the city to the other) I discovered some Nepali hand made paper, so giving it a go! so like everyone here in Nepal, adapting to the environment without complaint and taking it all as it comes!
The courtyard where I live has a master Thangka painter working right opposite my house and I have spent several afternoons watching him at work. Often these painters are from families devoted to Thangka painting for generations and who still follow old traditions, making their paints from plants and natural dyes. A large painting can take up to three to six months to complete, working from morning till night seven days a week. They can train for up to 10 years and I saw many students hard at work in the Thangka schools, which I visited on several occasions. The working conditions are quite hard, they sit on the floor cross legged all day, craning their necks. And, the interiors of Nepali houses are very dark and  hard on the eyes. However, the paintings have to be seen in the flesh to really appreciate the drawing and detail in the work.
I have another 6 weeks to go and planning to have an exhibition in the Patan Museum so better get back to work! ”

Lorene Taurerewa, January 2015.

Images below can be enlarged or viewed as a slideshow with a mere click!