Art and Understanding

Having been at the first Magdalena Festival in 1986 and many since in many parts of the world, this Munich Magdalena has a very different feel, due to the Munich City supported artists’ residency scheme which gives the festival its three month shape.

Helen Chadwick. Foto: Cecilia BolañosI was welcomed for a month’s residency at Ebenböckhaus where I was given a beautiful large light room facing onto a garden. After the busyness and noise of East London where I live it is the perfect environment to concentrate and let the mind expand into new ideas. I was working on a performance based on stories and interviews around the theme of TRUTH.

The length of my stay incorporated two solo shows in theatres with excellent acoustics (HochX and Meta Theater) and a singing workshop with a talented international group of artists, theatre makers and singers. Through these activities and at other performances and events, I met a huge range of women creators in Munich as well as international women in residence at the Villa Waldberta. Alongside the individual creativity that each artist is involved in, conversations led to collaborations, and collaborations led to further creativity. Interviews were made, recordings, further collaborations planned, art works created, songs composed and ideas for a voice festival developed. This was a new experience in a Magdalena festival where normally the span of the festival would be ten days or two weeks; artists would be busy preparing their performances or giving workshops, and have little or no time to develop their latest work or to collaborate truly with others in a way that comes naturally out of conversations and meetings over time.

For this Munich experience we are all deeply grateful to Helen Varley Jamieson and her team and to the city of Munich. Helen has worked tirelessly to make this unique creative hub exist, one that promotes collaboration and understanding between Germans, Serbians, Brazilians, Mexicans, Italians, Danes, Jordanians, Colombians, Chileans, French, Dutch, Spanish, Biritsh and New Zealanders. What other activities can boast the same? And I discovered many things about how the City of Munich generously supports artists: as well as the Magdalena artists, I was living with young documentary makers from Cameroon and Ghana and I was also inspired to see the house for retried artists near Marienplatz. This showing of respect and encouragement to artists, gives a greater sense of their worth and that in itself fosters the confidence to risk and create. Thank you!