It Is Not About The Quantity, It Is About The Quality


Confluence blog entry by Houssain Belabbes

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Meeting with Upland & Katie Anderson at The Stove, Dumfries
Meeting with Upland & Katie Anderson at The Stove, Dumfries

A one-week artistic residency may seem to be a short period of time to begin developing a massive artistic project such as Confluence, but believe me, it’s not about the length of time…it is about how ready and motivated you are to inject creativity and energy into the cells of a project.

                          Waiting for flight to UK at Marrakech Airport

                                In Scotland: Laura and I at Edinburgh Airport

The residency taught me how to act as a human, far away from my ideological and cultural background. During the week in Dumfries and Galloway, Laura and I had many meetings and visits where we had to think deeply about the common values and similarities between Celtic and Arabian culture. Having meetings with so many people from many different fields was fuel for my inspiration to work on and to focus.

After a morning to recover from travelling and a late arrival, Laura and I went to New Abbey village to visit Archie McCall (of Upland) and his wife Irena, we enjoyed conversations about Confluence and many other diverse issues and topics. In the afternoon, we visited The Whitehouse Gallery, to see the creative and inspirational photography on display by Galloway Photographic Collective. I then had the opportunity to spend the evening with some of the members of the collective at the Isle of Whithorn.

                                   The walk to New Abbey Village, Dumfries, Scotland

After an overnight stay at the Isle, we drove to the Upland office in Dumfries and had an exciting lunch meeting with the Upland team. We discussed ‘Confluence’ in much more detail and gave an update on the things we had begun work on already.  Upland then introduced me to Katie Anderson at the Stove Network, Katie explained about the Stove’s many projects and ideas and we were able to tell her about ‘Confluence’.

Over the next two days, Laura and I worked on the main themes, which would run throughout the project, and focused on the aspects of combining storytelling and photography. In order to reach the level of inspiration, which will allow me to link Celtic culture with Arabian, Laura suggested a day in Edinburgh to visit the Scottish Storytelling Centre, The National Portrait Gallery, and Stills Photography Centre.

                                              The highway to Edinburgh

                                                       At the Storytelling Centre

On the final day of the residency, we had a meeting with the fourth member of the team, storyteller Anne Errington. During our meeting we talked more about the themes, which Confluence will focus on over the next few months. Then, we recorded Anne for an introduction video.

On the final evening, we attended ‘Brave New Words’ in Dumfries, an open event for people to share poetry and music, I shared a poem of my own in Arabic. As it was my last night with Laura and Scott, we enjoyed a special dinner together.

                                                          Brave New Words

                                          Dinner at Abbots Tower with Laura and Scott

For me, Confluence is not only an artistic project which aims to link and connect cultures through photography and storytelling, but a way of life, for anyone who believes in Humanity - by always connecting, communicating and interacting with others. During my week long residency, I was ‘doing’ Confluence all the time, by meeting people from a totally different background to my own, through the artistic side of the project which was so inspiring, and with my soul and spirit as I learned so much about life and emotions, art and culture.