“Follow your dream”… “Leave your comfort zone”…
You can see these motivational phrases everywhere, but what happens when you actually do? In other words how “cool” is follow your dream, when…
What made a Czech girl with degree in IT to come to Portugal and make sculptures?
I had a normal office job in Czech Republic, regular monthly income, rented apartment just for myself in Prague and enough savings on my bank account. I had probably all what a person might make happy, but I wasn’t happy, living with constant feeling that I was missing “something”.
I felt that I needed to do something creative where I could express myself. So once I found an offer of drawing and painting course on FB, I decided to attend and that was the moment when I first saw people making sculptures. First I thought they were all professional sculptors, but then I realized they were just students from another course. I couldn’t help myself and after a few words of my friend saying „If you are supposed to do something, you will do it anyway even when you’re 70.“ somehow it encouraged me and I booked the sculpting course.
I was really excited and never forget when I touched the clay for the first time, it was like an orgasm and I thought I must have done it before, maybe in my previous life eh. So that’s how I started to make sculptures…..my funeral sculpture
Well it would be a really long story, but it all started when I arrived to Portugal with EVS programme (European Voluntary Service) a few years ago and I volunteered at RATO-ADCC in Margem Sul for one year. It was the first time when I got a chance to work on creative tasks even I had almost no experience in creative fields such as movie making or graphic design.
They trusted me and gave me a space to learn and express myself while appreciating my creativity. This was an important moment in my life since I realized that I am able to perform tasks I didn’t know that much about while learning and enjoying the work at the same time.
Since I fell in love with Portugal and its culture I have returned several times with another European projects such as Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs but later also trying my luck with finding a regular job, unsuccessfully. Anyway thanks to my several arrivals and departures from/to Portugal, people already started to call me „maluca“ (crazy in Portuguese), but who is normal anyway.
And why …ela?
I like the concept behind the word “she” in Portuguese that’s exactly how I think about myself, I don’t find myself as an artist nor belonging to any other box. When my flatmate introduced herself as a painter and asked what about me, I said I was nobody ‘cos as nobody I can be everything, making movies, sculptures, cloths, paintings whatever without having any “restrictions” of being somebody such as “I am a professional … so I can’t do this or that” what I found ridiculous, honestly. So I just do whatever I like and I don’t care whether it is or not „professional“ enough. And also ela is part of my name, so it is just perfect.
How do you manage to live in Portugal, do you have any job here?
Well I am lucky that with my IT background and experience, I managed to get a job as a Czech Media Analyst. I was really happy at first ‘cos I worked part time and from home, so I had a lot of time to learn and make sculptures. But as time flew and my savings from previous job got smaller and smaller and also I started work on less and less projects, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to maintain this state for a long time.
I got several times into the situation that I had only a few cents on my bank account, my record was 3 cents. I found it challenging first, browsing all promotions of several supermarkets online to find the most things I could buy for almost no money. I also learned to use rice in several ways, for making milk, bread etc. also thanks god for several types of beans in Portugal, I managed to survive many times, but during the time I started to see the poor alimentation on my body and I decided to quit this “lifestyle” ‘cos I also have some limits.
What was the most difficult about not having money?
It will sound stupid but it was the feeling that I can’t eat what I feel like eating. When I stepped in to the shop and had to decide whether to buy bananas or rice and I knew I had to buy rice ‘cos I could eat it more days, it was really annoying.
Another thing was that I became kind of Hikikomori as without money it makes it kind of difficult to socialize, you cannot go and simply have a coffee or glass of wine with your friends ‘cos you think in your mind well I could have a 1 kg of apples for that. So I started to count all the stuff in my head, was kind of crazy and it started to disturb me from my creative work. Anyway I am lucky to have friends here, who knew my situation and invited me several times…but that was not a solution also it is not what I like to accept on regular basis.
But to not end up negatively, there is also a lot of I’ve learned when not having money, it will sound like a cliché, but the value of food got a totally different meaning for me comparing to times when I used to have a lunch in restaurants almost all days in the Czech Republic.
Similarly the meaning of friends who don’t show you their back when you don’t feel well and not being in mood to be that “funny girl”. It also helped me to strengthen my relation with nature (you can watch my last movie), as having only my bike, I spent most of my time in the nature, where I found a great amount of inspiration and peace of my mind while watching the clouds instead of TV so the feeling of freedom was just priceless.
I also think there is something/somebody who’s been holding the helping hand above me, ‘cos when considering my bike accidents, it always ended well somehow just with few stitches (giggling) or another examples when not having food, the flatmates were leaving so they left some for me, or when not having money to go to see a gig, I found 20 € in cash machine and several small coincidences, that at the end show that when you decide to do something you really love there is a help ready, when you open your eyes and believe.
What about the future are you leaving Portugal again?
Yeah, to be honest I am kind of tired of living in my “suitcase”, spending 85% of my income just to pay a rent and sharing an apartment with people that many times I can’t choose. But at the same time I don’t want to work 8 hours per day again sitting in front of the computer having money, but not a time for my stuff.
Therefore I decided to move back to Czech Republic and start living in a small cabin in the nature that my grandpa illegally built on a property that didn’t belong him. It has no water no electricity, but I believe that when not paying a rent and finding a part time job I can slowly start to improve its conditions and also continue working on my stuff that I believe will make my living one day.
Do you regret anything about this “adventure”?
Definitely not, I followed my dream, made 3 sculptures, many several up-cycling projects and got many new ideas that I am going to implement in the Czech Republic. This year was extremely difficult especially when dealing with my mind, but also extremely useful as it made me a stronger person.
I have met important people who taught me essential things for my life and also helped me distinguish between friends and between the others who like you only when you “happy free and cool” and listen to them.
So one cliché sentence to add at the end: many thanks to my family who gave me all the money for my B-day, Christmas etc and I could use for surviving in Portugal (laughing), if they only knew eh also thank you my dear friends…and of course follow your dreams, but first sort out your mind ‘cos it might be tough!
Want to know how the story of ela maluca is going to turn out?