Once Upon Water

Artists participating in the residency were studying and exploring the material and magical notions of water.  Art mediums included painting, drawing, photography, video, mixed media, installation and performance.
Teresa Ascencao from Arts Unfold coordinated the residency.  Terry Costa from Mirateca Arts helped facilitate and acted as our guide.  Through Mirateca,  Terry is a big contributor to the island’s cultural programming.  He brings in musicians, performers and artists from all over the world.  As artists we were able to support and participate in Mirateca’s Fringe Festival programming.

Getting to know Pico Island, Azores

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Photo taken in Pico.  Faial Island in the distance.

The above snapshot gives a sense of  the surrounding waterscape in Pico, Azores.  The water is in constant motion.  The weather changes continually throughout the day.  As expected, the sea is an important part of the local economy.  Tourism has been increasing every year.  Efforts are being made to attract more visitors.


Loungers at the Baia da Barca.  A an amazing amount of sketches completed in these chairs!

While getting to know Pico, I found it surprising the island did not feel isolated.  Faial was a short, inexpensive ferry ride from Madelena, the little town the residency was stationed in.  São Jorge could be seen from other cities on the island.  The tiny airport was busy.  Sata – Azores Airlines has a program making it easier to travel between the Azorean Islands.


View of Madelena Harbour.  Faial in background.

When we first arrived the lava rock retaining walls caught my eye driving along the coast to Madelena.  I would later discover all the different ways the lava rocks were integrated into the local landscape.  The rocks are used for drainage systems, architecture, road paving, wine making and sculptures made by local artists.  Those rocks part of my introduction to Pico.

View of a village in Pico Azores, Portugal

Village in Pico.  Lava rock used for retaining walls & drainage.

When you were walking around it became obvious the lava rock is used in paving.

Pico Azores Vineyard

Vineyard in Pico Azores.

View from the Museo de Vinho

Museu do Vinho (Wine Museum) Madelena, Pico, Azores

I really enjoyed seeing all the different shades of black on the lava rocks and the colour changes throughout the day.  As a photographer, trained in the darkroom the tonal values within those rocks had an appeal.  Later in the residency I started to notice more of the island’s reddish brown rock and all the colours within the rocks. Natural Pool in Pico, Azores

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Lava Rocks on Pico Island, Azores

Pier - Madelena, Pico, Azores

While I was there to study water and catch a glimpse of marine life in Pico, I quickly started to sense the land has it’s own story.  Land and sea start to intersect at points.  Pico Mountain has it’s own appeal and acts as a backdrop just about everywhere on the island.   Although the mountain is not always visible.  It is usually cloud covered in most weather conditions.  Being able to see the mountain lit during sunset, only happened once or twice during our 10 days on the island.


The geological changes on the mountain terrain and along the coast lines are worth experiencing on any of the Azorean islands.  As flights become more available to the islands and places continue to develop, the land and seascapes will continue to change.


Part of Holly McClellan’s process for Once Upon Water residency Getting acquainted with my chosen source material:  seaweed.   The seaweed itself, and a few locations were explored before I was ready and able to create work for what became Shallow Views.  At this point I started to realize my original ideas, plans and experiments … Continue reading Discovery

Shallow Views

Work created during an art residency in Pico, Azores   There is a literal and symbolic shallowness to the images.  The photos are a visual study of shallow ocean waters in Pico, Azores.  What started out as a visual exploration of seaweed, evolved into a study of shallow water aquatic life living in the seaweeds … Continue reading Shallow Views