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The sustainable art of the Earthforest Residence


Croatia Gorski Kotar and ARThforest Residence


Cava de’ Tirreni SA Italy

Loredana Avagliano




The realization that art leaves marks not only on the spirit but also on the environment is a mantra that Croatian artist Sandra Ban has been spelling out for the past decade and has led her to produce ceramics in a totally sustainable way in the magical place that is the forest of the Croatian mountains.
Her entire artistic production is marked by the need to convert the art of ceramics to unconditional respect for nature and the use of the earth, its colors and products as infinitely reusable and transformable raw materials. The experience gathered through years of research and experimentation on the regeneration of materials and energy is passed on to her guests in the workshops Sandra organizes right in the heart of the forest, in her mountain workshop-residence in Gorski Kotar, an isolated and quiet enclave dedicated to contemporary art, not far from the villages of Skrad and Kupjak. 
eARThforest Residence is a place where Sandra Ban welcomes guests and engages them in a contemporary artistic dialogue with the landscape through a first of all visual contact experience that then becomes overwhelmingly material. The space in which the residence extends is conceived as an ideal exhibition site for green installations. A proscenium for artistic activities where the natural element becomes the inescapable essence of human action. Stimuli for artists, musicians, composers and writers are at hand, and the performances and works produced are documented and connected to the rest of the world via web and social pages. 
From the eARThforest Residence you can enjoy unparalleled starry skies, thanks to the total absence of light pollution, and you can quickly reach a special geomorphological reserve where you can admire places of unspoiled natural beauty such as Devil's Pass Canyon, the Green Vortex Waterfall, and the source of the Kupica and Kupa rivers. 
Building on the past experience of "Earth Evolution - Earth Elevation 0.1," which on April 22, 2021 on the occasion of World Earth Day brought an art collective of artists from all over the world to the residency, what Sandra is now proposing is an international artist residency project with the evocative title "Connection with Nature for Regeneration of Culture." A cultural renewal that passes through contact with nature in the places dear to her and from which she herself has drawn the energies for a "natural renaissance" following ancestral codes of alliance with the environment that surrounds her.

Sandra tell us about yourself, what you do, what inspires you and what animates your work. 
I live perpetually in a state of creative challenges, constantly driven by so many ideas and the desire to realize them. This requires tremendous effort both in terms of time to be consistently devoted to various activities, and in terms of design and implementation techniques that are complex in order to remain true to the principle of self-sufficiency that animates all my work. It takes inner strength both mental and psychological but also emotional impulses managed with rationality and courage, perseverance and patience. I believe that art is a profession that you do not choose; it chooses you. If talent is only 5%, everything else is work, discipline and passion.
Is it the ideas that influence your works or do your works end up influencing the ideas? 
Good question! Actually the creative process starts from both directions, from the inside out and vice versa. By this I mean that the inner impulse drives toward materialization just as the outer influence of life circumstances drives toward deep cognitive and creative processes. Life has taken me through many different cultural and artistic activities. I have been living with art since I became aware of my existence. During 30 years of experience in which the first 20 dedicated to drawings, paintings, murals, textile creations, digital works, classical clay sculpture, wood sculpture, and installations with mixed techniques, in the last 10, since I have returned to live in the natural habitat of our human origins, in the core of nature's essence, my dominant medium of expression has become the earth. Using clay, I can express all other art forms. The artistic value of ceramics, therapeutic in itself, is combined with a scientific and spiritual value at the same time, matter and vibration of life energy, as clay is composed of the basic elements of life itself. 
In your Croatian forest residency so no one can get bored, how did you organize the space to make the whole artistic process effective and therapeutic? 
I have always been afraid of one thing, boredom. I am convinced that combining spontaneous creation with clay stimulates and attracts deep memories from the subconscious that create a connection at the level of neurons, storing data in the amygdala and stimulating the creation of bodily matter that takes us back to the emotions, all of which manifests during the creative act, so on and so forth in endless cycles. The artist residency is an open and fluid concept that covers a wide range of activities and engagements. Through new technologies, new experiences are achieved, including the possibility of working in connection with distant places through digital space. Currently filming is underway on a documentary about the residency, through which one will have the opportunity to see what the entire estate looks like.The basic idea is to create a real symbolic Noah's Ark that emerges from the earth collecting Creation.
Are you satisfied with the international collective event "Earth elevation 0.1" ? 77 thematic works received from artists from 7 nations mostly members of the "Pandora" association. Are the works "Planets" still levitating at your residence or amid the snow and frost of the harsh forest winter have they returned to its origin, absorbed by the earth itself? 
Thanks to Pandora Association, the event was a great success! A stream of works arrived from generous women with a great sense of unity, sensitive to environmental projects like this; they made this event unique. Most of the works, the planets, regardless of the clear layer of frost and moisture protection I applied to all of them, are still here, some transforming, some unchanged. Some, however, have not withstood the frost and have gradually turned into animal houses or shelters for flying seeds that in the next growing cycle will give birth to new shoots. So we can say that some works have evolved, and others have elevated. Among my works some have survived after 10 winters, and some have not, and this has taught me the line between breaking and enduring. This experience is an incentive for two different workshops, one on basic construction techniques for beginners, the goal of which is to avoid destruction or breakage of the piece over time, the other on creating complex forms with chemical processes of deep penetration of glazes into objects aimed at professional potters. 
It is wonderful to see the spheres shimmering in the darkness in the moonlight because of the thin layer of ice, they really look like celestial bodies, stars. I thank everyone for the excellent work and special thanks to Anna Rita Fasano president of ApsPandora Artiste Ceramiste.


eARTh EVOLUTION permanent installation opened on the occasion of International Earth Day 2021
Sandra Ban and the Forest Residence