At Workaway, we absolutely love getting to know you all, whether it’s meeting you on the road, at a Workaway trip or hearing about your adventures through e-mails and social media. We couldn’t be prouder to be involved with such an inspiring community of travellers, which is why we just have to share some of the stories you tell us!
Recently our attention kept getting drawn to a few spectacular murals we saw online. We wanted to find out more about the talented workawayer behind them! This month, we’re glad to have finally caught up with workawayer Aude from France:
“I would never have known that I was able to paint and love it so much if the workaway host in La Codosera, Spain hadn’t given me the opportunity in October last year. And now my only dream is to travel and paint as many walls as possible along the way, filling my travel map with completed projects around the world!”
After ten months workawaying Aude is on a non-stop mission to leave a trail of inspirational murals behind her as she travels around the globe on a one way ticket. Some of her friends call her “an artwork machine”, because when she starts painting she is in the zone and there is no stopping her…!
Your murals are so vivid and detailed. How do you bring your ideas to life?
It happens quite spontaneously. I only sketch the general outline first and then my hand somehow finds its own way once it reaches the wall. 🙂
Isn’t it hard to paint on such a large scale and get everything in proportion?
The size doesn’t change anything, except that now I want to take on even bigger and bigger walls to paint! Haha!
So let’s rewind a bit to the start of your adventures – what initially motivated you to leave everything behind for a while and travel?
Well, it had always been my dream to travel the world one day, but it took me time to really make the leap into the adventure. I am from Le Havre in Normandy. After high school I studied graphic design in Paris, then I found an internship and later a job in the same city. However, as a result of a very difficult period of my life five years ago, I realized that life is a gift that should be lived to the fullest. Even though I had everything, friends, a nice job, renting a nice apartment something was wrong, something was missing. I was bored, wasting my time instead of pursuing my dreams. So, with the encouragement of a colleague and dear friend I left my job and all my past behind me, to embark on something entirely new.
That move must have taken a lot of courage and conviction. How did you embark on your new life?
In September 2016 I went to Spain for four months as a workaway volunteer, armed with basic Spanish, a sketchbook and an enormous appetite for all the news things that I would meet along the way. I went with an open-heart and mind.
Once there, I learnt Spanish staying with a family in the Pyrenees, and had time for sketching the natural surroundings. This was followed by a stint on the permaculture farm where I experienced the flavour of naturally cultivated food and saw how much effort and love you have to give to earth to produce it, I also painted my first mural here :). After that I helped at a pilgrim hostel along the Camino de Santiago (Santiago Trail) where people from all over the world meet and walk for months. From there I went to an art colony, an oasis of cultural and artistic expression in the desert near Alicante; it is magical place where everything and anything is possible…I decided to buy my plane flights for Mexico the following year with the sole desire to keep exploring. I ended my travels in Spain at a foundation in Granada that helps people with economic or social difficulties to find a place to live. After four months I went back to France and prepared myself for my BIG journey, but this time with NO return date!
So the second time you were even braver and made an even bigger leap of faith! What happened next? Did you satisfy your desire to keep exploring and discovering?
I arrived in Mexico in April 2017 for six months, and here again I learned more and more about the world and about myself.
Tell us more…
I lived with a family in the beautiful city of Zacatecas that had a project to make an eco-village where taking care of the environment is given the same importance as education. Here I had the wonderful opportunity to be able to paint a lot of colourful birds. 🙂 Then I helped in a ranch in Veracruz headed by an old wise German and Mexicans who have been cultivating without using pesticides for the past 20 years as well as rearing pigs for meat, but in a considerate and respectful way. This farm attracts young students from all over the country with the aim of spreading the word regarding this type of agriculture and aiming to provide its own energy supply too. Here I was also able to paint a lot, an entire building and more!
Workaway has opened up a lot of possibilities, not only because it has enabled me to express myself with painting but also to learn new things every day. I meet people of all ages and nationalities and it makes me realize that we are all citizens of the same world, all equal, facing the same issues, depending on the natural environment we are living in. After four months of travelling and five different workaway placements, I have realized more than ever how much we are all citizens of the world, despite our cultural differences, we all have the desire to discover and learn from each other through art, music or community projects. Each person is precious.❤️
Would you say that your experiences have changed your life in any way or, changed your direction for the future?
All of these experiences have changed me! They make me grow, open my mind, extend my tolerance, trust and respect towards others.
The friends I made along the way opened new possibilities and determined where I would go next… After Mexico I headed to Guatemala with a contact of a Workaway host in Izabal, there I met two friends and we travelled around together. We found a hostel where I plan to go to in December because they want me to paint all the walls. Right now I am in a house of one of their friends on the coast painting turtles. 🙂
Do you live by any particular personal philosophy to help you on your way?
In this small amount of time I have learnt to never give up, to always give the maximum of myself, to keep learning from both good or bad experiences, to treat others with respect and equality, to listen what they have to say, to be kind and to trust, to keep asking and get curious about everything, to keep myself awake and active, to fight my fears, to never forget to say thanks, to be grateful, to listen my instinct and my inner-self.
Thank you so much Aude, for sharing with us your love and respect for life, humanity and nature. Your stunning artwork is a testimony to this. Congratulations! We hope that you continue to decorate your path by “covering all the walls of the world with your paintings”. How wonderful to literally “leave your mark” wherever you go and be remembered even when you are long gone.