Sunday, March 17, 2013

Looking for Connections and Inspiration

Stella, Laura and me in Colonia
In early March I went back *home* to Uruguay to spend a week reestablishing family connections and looking for much-needed inspiration. Part 1 of this search: Colonia del Sacramento, which was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 and is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
Small dish by Ariel Chape
I spent a spectacular day with my sister, Stella, my niece, Laura, and my nephew, Gonzalo walking the cobblestone streets of this old city that sits directly across from Buenos Aires. Inspiration was everywhere: the chattering of flocks of parakeets in the palm trees and the buzzing of hummingbirds; the patterns of the cobblestones and ancient stone buildings; the deep colors of the bougainvillea; the swift currents of the Uruguay and Paraná rivers as they come together to form the estuary of the Río de la Plata; and the warmth of the sun on a clear, warm day.  My inspirational purchase of the day was a sweet little dish made by Ariel Chape that I bought at a craft shop run by the Grupo Artesanal de Colonia.

Franco, Gonzalo, Leo, Laura and me

The next day we went east. Gonzalo drove again and this time we were joined by his wife Leonor and Laura's son Franco. It was another lovely day that took us off the main highway at the coastal town of Solis where we instead followed route 10 through all the small coastal beach towns: Bella Vista, Las Flores, Playa Verde, Playa Hermosa... I decided then that any of those beach towns would be the ideal place for the Southern Hemisphere branch of Glynt Pottery! 
Gonzalo, Laura and me

Small dish from Casapueblo
From there we continued on to Piriápolis and Punta del Este. I found inspiration in the calm sea and a walk on the beach after lunch; the magnificent art deco style of the Argentino Hotel built in 1930; and a visit to Casapueblo, which is at once a hotel, a restaurant and a museum housing the work of Carlos Páez Vilaró. My inspirational purchase was another small ceramic dish.

Stella, Laura, María, Franco and Victoria
Finally, we took a tour of Montevideo in a double-decker tourist bus. This time we were joined by niece María José and her beautiful 5-year old, María Victoria, who christened me *Tutú*. This was an emotional tour through the city of my birth that took us through places I remembered, including our old neighborhood. The inspiration was more personal this time: the fountain where Dad used to take us to float our wooden boats; the art deco building that housed Casa Soler (scroll down when this link opens for a series of photos of this magnificent building); Pocitos beach where we used to go on lazy summer weekends. The trip ended at Mercado del Puerto in the port of Montevideo where I bought one last pottery inspiration. This raku bowl really spoke to me with its very organic form and deep colors. The bowl is made by potter Victoria Vazquez Young and I purchased it at Acatrás del Mercado.

So I came back renewed, with a new sense of family connections and love, kissed by the southern sun, and feeling that everything had come full circle: finally home after going home!