Why Travel?

With Nes artist residency directer Kerryn at the studio in Skagaströnd, iceland.

With Nes artist residency directer Kerryn at the studio in Skagaströnd, iceland.

I’m writing this from Geneva Airport where it is early evening waiting for my first flight on the long leg home. Already it is Sunday in Australia, but I won’t see Sunday as I will be in the air watching movies! In Europe people have said to me ooh Australia, that’s so far away, but my reply is well it is 5 movies away. Even Iceland seemed too far for many Europeans and yet I heard so many Australians in Iceland. Our accent is unmistakable for we are indeed a nation of talkative travellers.

For artists in general and Australian artists in particular, travel is essential to seeing what is out in the world, what inspires you to make new work and particularly to get a degree of recognition in your field if it’s an outside the box art field like mine is with handmade paper.

To say that travel has helped grow me personally and as an artist, is an understatement. I have long loved travelling and did the big overseas stint when I was just 21, spending my 22nd birthday in Crete. In the past 20 years I have travelled to amazing places like Ethiopia, Mexico, Cuba, Timor-Leste, Taiwan, Europe, USA and now Iceland. Each has influenced my artwork in its own way and given me the confidence to keep creating.

I can never underestimate the kindness of people I have met along the way, people I have stopped and chatted to at bus stations, in queues to get coffee or to use the ladies toilets (always a big queue) fellow travellers and ordinary people who have helped me when I have fallen down, given me a place to sleep or a friendly smile. These connections with people make the world a wonderful place (despite the politicians).

Of course I am happy to be heading home as travel is also stressful, especially airports. I am already planning my next trip back to Iceland and next year will be the International Artists and Paper Makers Association conference in Japan which I am looking forward to. So why travel - well why not?

The October 2019 Nes artists outside the Skagaströnd studio

The October 2019 Nes artists outside the Skagaströnd studio

Heather Matthew