The ‘Unlock Your Creativity’ retreat will be led by Florence Devereux, an artist, who has been spending time on Shona since she was five years old and her parents bought the island. We caught up with her to talk about her experience and relationship with Shona…….

‘My earliest memories of Shona are of long, blazing hot days on the beaches and in boats with my family - white sand and turquoise sea.  Walking on the top of the mountain ridge with my mother and her shushing us to be quiet as a huge sea eagle - it seemed the size of a deer to me - flew by.  And winters - which I love too - snuggled up in front of the fire in the sitting room - but still clear, blue, beautiful sunny days out walking and in boats on the water and picnics with hot soup.

‘We all feel a special connection with the island, but I also think everyone who visits does too. I always feel safe and protected - despite it’s epic-ness. It’s exciting, with amazing landscapes which take your breath away, but also a sense of softness from the moss and ferns which cover the ground.  There is a richness of species, which create a texture and a delight to the senses.  The island is big enough to get lost on, but small enough to know and orientate yourself on - I can always place myself even though there are still areas I haven’t been to.

‘Spending time on Shona has given me a deep appreciation and respect for non-human nature and a real love for the environment.  Intellectually, spiritually and sensorially the island has informed my art practice, which is about how we place ourselves in our environment.

‘On Shona something happens - you have the space to open yourself up and let go of background noise.  The soundscape is beautiful - not hearing cars, only hearing the wind through the leaves, the sea, the birds - it opens your mind to receive images, whatever your practice - whether you are a writer or not even an artist but just want to go deeper into your soul and psyche - you have the sonic space to do that.  And the physical space -  to walk - and for me walking is important for my creative process - the rhythm of my feet on the path as I climb the mountain creates a container for my imagination and interesting things emerge.  

‘Its a very dreamy place - the amazing, shifting colours and tones and textures - the mountains are like crushed velvet and the sea at sunset goes a molten silver pink. The whole place is like an incredible deep oil painting.  Having that expanse of horizon gives you space to dream and be inspired - the lack of people removes you from the human drama of life which you experience in the city and exposes you to ideas outside of yourself. 

 

‘I feel so grateful to be part of this island’s life for a tiny period of time and to be part of the long lineage of people who have lived here.  I think the island should be shared and I want to open it up for people to come here and find inspiration for their creativity, whatever form that takes, and to benefit from the nurturing nature of the island. With the retreats that we are organising I hope people will come and feel a sense of expansion and respond to the beauty of the landscape. I always feel both a sense of freedom and playfulness on Shona - and this can help free up the creative process and not feel trapped by assumptions about what you should be doing. I am always inspired to write poetry while on Shona - its very romantic.

‘As well as the time to be on your own with the island and dig in deep to personal work, there will also be time with other people, to learn and share and grow together with.  I hope the retreats will be a combination of deep inward searching and investigation within the landscape, and also, most importantly, fun, with people having a good time around camp fires - with wine!