Zen modelling

PhD, writing

Last Monday I imprisoned myself. I took a bus from Helsinki to Turku and then another bus to the surroundings of Mynämäki in the Finnish countryside. The location is not random. Here you can find the amazing Saari Residence, an old manor  bought by the Kone Foundation in 2006 that has been receiving artists and researchers since 2008. As I started writing my thesis I realized it really needed a push and this just fitted the romantic idea about writing I’ve had since I was a kid: a heartbreakingly beautiful isolated place where the priority is on creativity and creation. The experience lasts two months and includes cohabiting with 9 talented artists.

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Finnish sunlight at the Saari Residence

Since I arrived I have been gravitating around the computer 24/7. I know writing 24/7 is not possible, at least it is not for me, but I’ve managed to gravitate around writing, which has yielded a much higher productivity rate than whatever I had in Helsinki. However, on the 7th day, after intensive gravitation, I started to reach a sort of ceiling. I could work mechanically but I felt my thinking was starting to be affected and I started to stress. Basic PhD stuff. Thing improved after some jogging and some sauna but the day had for me a hidden mood-changing task: I was asked to model for a painting by talented painter Hodhayfa Salih.

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Fast portrait by Hodayfah Salih (Oil on paper; Size A3; Mynämäki 2017)

I can’t be clear enough about how cool is to be surrounded by artists and creators, every encounter has sparked some interesting conversation. But to be able ot participate or collaborate one step beyond that was a great experience and, apparently, it fixed my annoying block. Posing turned out to be a quasi-zen experience, like weirdly self-aware meditation. After self-pressuring for a week to work and be efficient, knowing that I was now not allowed to do that but only to sit and be still, gave me the peace of mind that I needed.

Well, you find tools for productivity in the least expected places.

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