Evewright Blog. The school attic in Nagykata-Erdoszolo, Hungary.
I did not know what to expect when I arrived at a remote village school in Nagykata Hungary. A two-week residency that offered the opportunity to discover new spaces is an important part of my art practice. So, on arrival I immediately began exploring the building to see what I could find. I entered from the front and the ground floor had separate rooms. On the floor in the first room, neatly aligned mattresses were ready to be occupied. Walking west along the building was a third door, on entering I was presented with three other doors and interconnected rooms. Like a child's game I was drawn to the locked door in the middle closed by a tiny metal hook. Opening the door, a ladder-like staircase led me to a forgotten attic loft space full of debris and dust. Not just dust, but rubble, soil and dust, layered upon dust. It was a treasure trove of abandoned forgotten artworks, children's drawings and used and discarded exercise books. I waded through upturned and abandoned desks and chairs like a forgotten classroom frozen in time but in the roof space. The attic spoke to me of a bygone age of communist learning and teachings of a now rejected worldwide ideology.
On first appearance, there were two small skylights that failed to threaten the darkness but once my eyes adjusted there was light. Little pools and shards of intense light penetrated the roof through small gaps and holes. The way the light bounced off the dust in the air reminded me of stars and constellations.
A magical feeling of enchantment set in. In the stillness, it felt like a temple, shrine and church all combined. This was the space I felt I wanted to explore for my residency. It was a complete contrast to me thinking beforehand, that I would work with the landscape again. Working with light and dust meant the start of an exploration of how the light interacted with the objects and how the light changed the composition and meaning of the dust and how the light beckoned leading me to find new stories.
Then as I gently tip-toed through the maze I saw something through the darkness. Peeping through the grey dusty matter beneath my feet, I found a small leaflet, brown with age published in 1966 by the then state. It was titled ELET ES TUDOMANY translated in English LIFE AND SCIENCE.
It immediately got my attention and intrigue because on the cover was a picture of a black woman with an afro who was playing an instrument. I didn't recognise her or the instrument but now know her to be ODETTA BALZAN an American blues singer and guitarist. It was a long way to travel to a remote part of Hungary to find a black woman in an abandoned attic. I had to find out more. However, as I flicked through the dusty booklet, used as a teaching aid, flicking past articles about Op-Art and Military hardware my eyes rested on the central article which, from the pictures and later research, talked about tribesmen surviving in South Africa. I was particularly captivated by the images, and the probably now deceased, picture of a man the Hungarian called 'Busman' (Bushman). He had cleverly found water in the arid and harsh environment he was living in and was sucking it up through a thin reed of grass. These two newly found cousins from two different continents coalesced in a European backwater to now form the epicentre and the base of my new work going forward.
The reason why they both arrived and summoned my attention, I do not know, only the future will tell.