Artist's Statement: Laura Tonks, of The Beacon, on tarantulas and cicadas in Peru

| 25 November 2013

Artist’s Statement: Laura Tonks, the Learning Officer who created the Ice Age exhibition at The Beacon in Cumbria, on a kettle-less life in Peru

A photo of a young female curator sitting by a computer inside a museum office
Laura Tonks left for the "trip of a lifetime", to the Peruvian jungle, two months ago© The Beacon
“My day starts with breakfast of fresh papaya, mango and plantain, then it’s into the art studio to paint.

We are about 40 minutes' drive from the town of Tarapoto in a place called San Roque De Cumbaza. It's a small village. They don't have a radio station so they play loud music all of the time - from five in the morning.
 
The sun fades over the mountains and they glow the brightest blue in the distance. The mountains here are always covered in vegetation and seem so soft when I compare them to the angular rock mountains of home.
 
The jungle demands you go to bed early and rise early, so I have been going to bed at around nine and waking at 6am. It's great.
 
The insects and night creatures create the evening soundtrack: croaking frogs, buzzing, whizzing, creaking, and barking and howling: the village is full of small skinny dogs who like to sing after dark.
 
Night time, when we have to put the lights on, is when all the crazy bugs come out. They seem to take it in turns to pester us and fly into our food.

The best thing I have found yet was a stick insect. We called him Terry. He was on the floor of the art studio. The variety is really overwhelming.
 
Then there are the cicadas. They are the size of your thumb and try to fly into your head and get tangled in your hair. There was even a tarantula in the toilet the other day.
 
My artwork is flowing out so gracefully and changing all the time. It's a total adventure.

This village and local city are right in the heart of the jungle and the deep, deep forest surrounds us. It's very surreal but comfortable at the same time.

The sky is so blue and clear. It's a real privilege to be here.”
 

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