I recently spent some time in Ecuador, visiting the family of a student friend of my daughter’s. A wonderful country with so many superlatives crushed into an area only twelve times larger than Wales! It is very clearly a land of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, but all the people we met were friendly and helpful to an extent that would be unsettling if encountered in the UK.
There was much travelling, mostly in the back of a van, looking out at the scenery and the, apparently, uncontrolled ribbon development. Technically, planning laws exist; in practice, homes and business premises appear started (with aspiration) but never, quiet, completed. Unbelievable, Modernist facades jostle with folk frenzy and ‘make do’, all hanging off the front of rudimentary blockwork. In some places, there’s a penchant for blue tinted glass, often curved or squared into elaborately squeezed bays; elsewhere (or just next door) petrol greens and fluorescent yellows ping out at the passer-by. And all along the roads, hawkers offer oranges, ices and other comestibles. The whole film played out through the windows of the van against a backdrop of Volcanoes and jungle.
Inspiration is there for an artist to take! Since returning, I have been working upon on a series of ‘frames’, trying to capture my memory of the country in a way that respects all Ecuadorians and does justice to the vibrancy of their culture.