I am Leonie Walton, an Artist from Australia travelling for 6 months in Galicia, Spain. Here, I will be creating a series of paintings celebrating the unique culture and beauty of the region, which will be exhibited in Santiago de Compostela (home of the Camino de Santiago) in September 2018.
I have been painting for 15 years in between work and being a mother. Last year I was able to retire from my previous work and take an exciting step towards following my passion for painting and becoming a full time artist. Without any expectations, I began an 800 km Pilgrimage across Northern Spain, seeking solitude and a new direction for my art. The immense beauty of the Spanish countryside and forests were overwhelming. As each day and then each week passed, my awareness of time diminished to the point where I didn’t know what day of the week or how many days I had been walking. I did notice that I had all the time in the world to just walk and observe nature, an artist’s dream. It was such a privilege, I promised myself that I would never allow my life to become so busy that I couldn’t spend time appreciating the creation of life.
When I returned home, I had renewed enthusiasm for my painting and soon created these paintings below. They are two of my favourite memories of the Camino de Santiago.
I decided during my walking that I would return to Northern Spain and just paint!
Now here I am, back in Galicia living my dream as an artist. My intention is to take you on an incredible journey through one of the most beautiful regions in the world. I will introduce you to some of the locals, giving you interesting insights into their culture, food, history in the land of witches and myths……………but are they??
My first home in Galicia is in the small fishing town of Cambados with a population of only 14,000, in the Rias Baixas. With a history which may have begun in prehistoric times and ruins throughout Cambados dating from the 12th century, there will be many places of interest for me to visit.
So far it has rained every day since arriving in Galicia and today was no exception, with the addition of gale force winds. Before having a chance to investigate any historical sites, the sounds of 100 women chatting excitedly grabbed my attention outside. Quickly donning my raincoat (my seventh layer), I braved the weather to see what all the excitement was about. In the harbour, women were gathering in waders, wetsuits and coats, pushing baskets on trolleys towards the water. Most were talking like you would expect from any other group of women in the world. However, I will never forget the look of dread of one young woman as she was pulling her coat on tightly. These women are called “Mariscadoras” (shell- fisherwomen). Every day at low tide, they trudge out as far as the eye can see to collect shell fish in their baskets.
Later I strolled out over the long walking bridge to get a closer look at the action. I felt so privileged to be witnessing such an event, even though for them it was their daily job. I felt so much admiration for these women, facing the wildness of the Atlantic Ocean, working together for a common goal. I would never have the courage and strength to do this! How will I ever capture these incredible women in a painting?
After only two days of exploring in and around Cambados, I knew, being an artist, I needed to stay here for 6 years…..not 6 months, to even scratch the surface of a region so rich in culture.