The sequence of 20 photos in this post is a glimpse of the immediate environment in and around the two houses on the property of the Casa Na Ilha Art Residence, in Brasil, facing the Atlantic Ocean with the Atlantic Forest behind it. I have wandered in and out of these houses and up and down the grounds (the houses sit on the rocky slope that borders the forest). Since I am the only artist staying here this month, the days are my own. This gives me a chance to look at the small things and not just the magnificent landscape surrounding me. The forest is known to have a similar biodiversity to that of the Amazon. Daily, I take note of the diverse flora and the myriad of birds, butterflies, and fruit trees growing here. 60% of all of Brazil’s threatened animal species live in this forest.
What attracted me to the residency was the idea of slowness – an art residence that sits on the edge of the forest, on the island of Ilhabela, off the north coast of the state of Sao Paulo. There is one main road that runs north/south on the west coast and goes through three small tourist towns that are easy to avoid. 85% of the island is preserved. So… staying here I have the opportunity to just think and/or create without distraction. It is a retreat of sorts.
Before I arrived I had a specific idea of what I wanted to do: visit and photograph the native Caicara people and their homes in Castelahnos on the east side of this island (just beyond the state park) and on Bonete beach on the south side of Ilhabela. However, as it turns out, my first two weeks were more about taking the time to think and photographing the houses and land, here. This environment allows for reflection.
Trees bow and sigh in the wind. The ocean rolls and crashes or whispers a breath. At times, ones sounds like the other. Insects, such as beetles, ants (and of course mosquitoes) abound. The commotion and calls of parrots in the trees wake me up at 5am and later remind me that it may be time to stop working, or at least take a moment to listen to them, at around 5 in the afternoon.
My room, to date, has been a magnet for:
- a spider (non-venomous, hairy, approximately one inch long with a leg span of about three inches)
- a (dung?) beetle (about three inches long and one-two inches wide) – it sadly did what many beetles do: hit a wall or door, fall on their backs, struggle to turn over and fail, then die
- a baby tree-rat (that scared me half to death when I saw it at the foot of my bed)
- a cockroach
- a few fireflies
Of course, none of this is unusual given that most of the island is forest and the house sits at its edge.
Everything is on the move and has its rhythm and yet there is a quiet here – a stillness. In part, these photos capture this.