Go with the....FLOW - a global watercolour conversation

by SUE WILD


Szczepan Urbanowicz in action

It was a first. The first 24 hour global watercolour conversation, “Go with the Flow – a global watercolour conversation.” 105 watercolour artists from around the world participated with a global audience that grew to over 15,000 by the end of the event.

A New Zealand-born artist, living in Brisbane, is the man with the vision, the power behind the event. Szczepan Urbanowicz trained as an architect at Auckland University, left to see the world and after a varied work life has settled on trying to make life as an artist. As he honed his skill, he became a keen watcher of video events, demonstrations, exhibitions by international artists and art groups.

When lockdown happened all went quiet. Szczepan (call him Stefan) wanted to re-open the channels of international watercolour communication. His family had conversed online, 12 of them, located in various countries. Why not make this happen for the watercolour family? He envisaged a 24 hour presentation involving watercolourists around the globe. His idea was brilliant and challenging. Fortuitously, he met a young Chilean who was marooned by the pandemic in Brisbane and living next door. Alberto added his technical skills to bring the vision to fruition.

So Szczepan sent 300+ emails/messages to artists inviting them to contribute a brief, colourful snippet of their watercolour life to a live global audience.

The plan was to open 24 time-zone ‘rooms’ sequentially, one time-zone after another, with each ‘room’ to include 4 or 5 artists and a group of hosts. They would take turns ‘on stage’ for 50 minutes. A short pause would allow the focus to move to the next zone and viewers to stretch their legs.

Three months of scurrying preparation followed and on Saturday 6th June 2020 Szczepan sat in front of the camera connecting the watercolour world. He invited us all to relax and enjoy the ride, to go with the flow. The event was free – free for participants, free for viewers. Yes, there were occasional connection problems, technical problems, and the occasional initial reluctance of artists to join the event. Szczepan
didn’t expect perfection. “We didn’t know what to expect. We were hoping to glimpse the artists’ personal space – their studios. We got more than this – we had the privilege of being invited into their homes, their kitchens and meeting their families! They appeared relaxed, some in t-shirts, others with family around them, babies sleeping, a partner working nearby... you can’t choreograph this! This was real life!” People love to peep into the world of others. This fascination certainly added to the appeal.

The event started in New Zealand at 11 am. For the full 24 hours, Szczepan stayed with it, appreciating, encouraging, host to all. “When it ended, my wife and I went – Wow! What just happened! I was an emotional wreck.” The only payment he took is invaluable – a bigger broader family of watercolour friends.

The experience has shown Szczepan that the international watercolour community is resilient and is using the pandemic as a time to look internally, to regroup. Watercolour will move forward. He plans to repeat and enhance the experience. Watch for even greater things!

ZONE 01 ARTISTS & HOSTS: Jacky Pearson / Svetlana Orinko / Michael Barker / Rob Candy / Szczepan Urbanowicz



Watch the rest of the stream on Szczepan Urbanowicz youTube channel

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