Day Three: at the studio at Gemini, La Serena, November 5, 2014
Slower start this morning as last night I was invited out by Gemini Facilities Manager, John Michael Plaza and Aura Telescope outreach team, Katie Kaleida and Steve Pompea (National Optical Astronomy Observatory) to a fantastic restaurant on the beach at La Serena — Kardamomo (Cardamom). I had fried conger eel with steamed papas (potatoes) and mixed steamed vegetables. It was all very fresh and delicious and we had a very good Chilean wine called Tamari from a valley south of our location. I was also introduced to a Chilean national drink, a ‘pisco sour’ that is a little like grown up lemonade but more complex. There are fields of pisco grapes grown on the way up to the Gemini observatory. We watched the sun go down in pastel shades over the waves lapping up the beach. It was a fascinating evening with far ranging conversations as the two Americans, one ex-pat Englishman/Chilean and me, the Canadian, shared stories about travel, science education, telescope management and ancient sea wrecks.
In terms of studio set-up, I cannot complain! I have a super main room with a deep sink and skylight giving onto a stunning terra cotta tiled patio, which is partially covered by a marquis tent. As a paid up member of the Gemini Coffee Club, I have access to a machine, which grinds up freshly roasted beans and produces superb coffee at the touch of a button. This is helping with the jet lag. Getting up is still difficult but luring myself over to the studio with the knowledge of the excellent coffee helps.
Yesterday I prepped handmade paper accordion books with printer paper for the 360-degree landscape exercise, in which a number of scientists have indicated interest. I got some sand from the beach last night for the same exercise and need to harvest some good twigs for drawing implements. I have some latex house paint, which can be watered to work as ink.
Lacking large Japanese hiragana characters for shodo and sumi-e workshops, I did a few hours of sumi-e and shodo myself to produce characters which might be of interest to Gemini employees. We have: outer space, the future, triumph, sun, good, eternity, samurai, stars, dream, planet, galaxy and the Milky Way. That should provide a good running start for people.
With everyone wildly busy this week with the international board meeting here, no one has any extra time to come by for workshops but that has enabled me to get everything sorted out here in the studio.
In terms of my own work, I am doing a daily drawing, which might well feature on this blog from time to time, a camera safari of the main Gemini building and scientists within it, still life studies, portraits and also researching the Inca star charts and beliefs about the cosmos.

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