A Postcard from Beth Evans: The Hungarian Multicultural Centre

Clockwise from top: Beth Evans (on right) with fellow artists-in-residence; Beth Evans, Plant Head, 2016, monotype, 18 x 23 cm; Beth Evans, Mask II, 2016, monotype, 18 x 23 cm.

I attended an artist residency during the month of June at the Hungarian Multicultural Center Inc. (HMC), in Budapest. The HMC is a non-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring, connecting and exhibiting artists of all nationalities. The residency is open to visual artists, writers and performers and provides them the opportunity to produce new work while engaging with the arts community in Budapest. During the residency HMC holds artist talks, workshops and presentations, and participants visit a range of exhibitions. Its aim is to provide artists with a supportive community and uninterrupted time to work.

My fellow residents were a young couple Alyssa Dillard and Bret Adams from Texas, USA. I enjoyed their vibrant company immensely and we shared many evening conversations about art and life over a glass of Pálinka in the garden. Upon our arrival, Beata Szechy, artist, curator and executive director of HMC, marked our city maps with cultural sights and places of interest and sent us off to explore Budapest using its wonderful transport system. Beata kindly introduced us to her network of friends, artists, writers and curators at the various gallery openings we attended. Along with her constant canine companion Maxine, she generously took us on many informal tours of the city and surrounding countryside.

Its distinctive blend of the old and the modern makes the city an architectural wonderland. In Budapest you can find 2000-year-old Roman ruins, beautiful Gothic churches, fabulous Renaissance opera houses, lavish Turkish communal baths, grand Baroque palaces, impressive Classical train stations and glorious Art Nouveau architecture. The city is enthralling. It is simultaneously uplifting and down-to-earth, a busy metropolis and at the same time a peaceful haven. We were lucky to be there for ‘The Night of Museums’ held on Midsummer when the many galleries and museums are open from 2 pm until 2.30 am. Around fifty museums, exhibition halls and other venues welcome visitors with art, literary, folk and gastronomy programs. They feature a wide range of children’s programs, which offer both fun and education to the whole family on the longest day of the year. Not only do prominent museums and galleries take part, but also, curious places such as the Hospital in the Rock Museum and the Postal Museum. We also took the opportunity to see Beata’s solo exhibition Könny (v) ek/Tears of Books at the prestigious Petofi Literary Museum. Another highlight of my stay was a visit to the Aquincum Museum and its extensive collection of letterpress and printing presses.

The residency gave me the opportunity to experiment and to explore new directions in my art practice. The informal sessions in the garden, where Beata and I sipped our morning coffee, exchanged ideas and discussed the progress of my work, became a daily ritual which we both enjoyed. I produced a series of monotypes during my stay, two of which were included in the Környezetvédelem/Enviromental Project exhibition curated by Beáta Széchyin and displayed at Galéria 12 Kávézó és Borbár, Budapest, from 24 August to 11 September.

Beth Evans is a printmaker and book artist and works from the Tannery Printmaking Studio in Adelaide.