The fourth edition of the The Old School residency took place in Gorna Lipnitsa between 16-25 August 2013. This year the theme of the residency was Ritual art. The work of the artists was based on previously prepared materials which represented different rituals – folklore, religious, occult, etc. In essence the ritual is an action or series of actions aimed to achieve a particular goal. Тhe purpose of the ritual art is to stimulate the artist to create a work using the techniques of the ritual. Every action in this process has its own meaning and should be done in strictly followed rules. The final result is reaching a significant public purpose.




Trevor Knott – U.S. – Performance/Painting 

Trevor Knott is a performance artist, who lives in Minneapolis, U.S. His works are focused on the correlations between ritual in spiritual practices and ritual in studio practices. Other topics in his art are advanced figure drawing; large scale installation work and abstract drawing; wood, metal and ceramic fabrication.

"There is something primordial—even elemental—about charcoal, water, and paper that speaks to me on a very fundamental level. This elemental quality strongly resonates with my intense investigations into the Lakota, Buddhist, and other gnostic traditions. Common amongst these traditions is the emphasis on ritual and practice—two things that are quite significant to me. To truly bring these aspects into the work, performance became necessary. With these performances, the audience has direct access to my process, projections, and an active meditation—the essence of drawing as ritual."

Fire ritual - performance

"Fire is the ultimate transmutor.  It exists in many forms (convection, combustion, radiation, etc.), but operates under the same function of releasing bonds and regressing matter to a more neutral or entropic state.  As wood is burned by fire, the chemical composition of the material is altered. Most atoms that are not carbon are released from the fibrous structure of the tree, evaporating and mingling with atoms of hydrogen, oxygen, magnesium, and many others, forming new gaseous compounds and separate simplified chemical forms.  What is left before us resting on the earth, after the fire has completed its consumption, is the carbon skeleton of the tree.  It has fully returned to its death-state in which its parts are separated in order to be reconfigured or reintegrated into another life-form.  This chain of events can serve as a metaphor for the spiritual and psychic fire that we are able to utilize in order to transmute the self to a place of neutrality and entropy--where the opportunity to reconfigure the ego is readily available.  This process can be painful as one releases their personal constructs of the self, much as the cells of the wood forfeit their structural integrity in the violence of the fire. It is in this space, the conscious choice of the death-state, that we are able to most drastically alter the alchemy of our consciousness to form a configuration that serves the self in a more holistic fashion. It is an opportunity to heal the wound.

As much as the fire rises in violent flame, it also sits in quiet meditation--lying dormant in glowing embers, waiting for the proper catalyst to awaken its luminous tendrils. It is around this type of fire than humans have meditated for eons, sitting in quiet reflection with the crackling warmth of the orange coals and small blue flames. What man has learned around this kind of hearth is impossible to quantify, but undoubtedly essential to our evolution. The fire itself exudes no meaning, but, through repetition and constant movement, it seduces the ego into loosening its grip on the rising unconscious.  It is then that the subconscious interpretations of the human condition are free to be projected into and animated by the fire--creating a symbol of manifestation for the human spirit.

It is this specific history with the element that I intend to conjure in my work--confronting the viewer with an aspect of fire in order to reveal a pattern of unconscious tendencies, ambiguous recognitions, and deep familiarities--to evoke in their being a consciousness less distracted by the endless artifices of the human psyche and more concentrated on a method of compassionate energetic exchange.

Blaze in the Balkans

My objective in Gorna Lipnitsa was to create a ceremonial ritual in which the people of the village and the artist residency could make offerings that would strengthen their bond to the land and generate a harmonious atmosphere. It had been made clear to me during my time in Bulgaria that the land holds many old wounds from the invading forces that sought to impose their will upon the people there. It was my intention to aid in releasing some of the pain that had soaked into the earth with a fire ritual where we could all ask for forgiveness, give thanks, and express our wishes for this place and its people."

~Trevor Knott




Presentation of the performance during the closing exhibition of the residence


100 x 70 cm., charcoal drawing on paper





Daniele Villa – Italy- Visual art and Installations/Performance  

Daniele Villa is a visual artist, lives and works in Rome, Italy. His background and formation is erratic and multidisciplinary including art, theatre, cinema and film critics. He directs his visual research towards the territory of collage, creating collage-based works, made solely with paper, scissors and glue.

Free from the perfecting powers of computer manipulation, the concept of his collages floats between the nostalgia for lost harmonies and a frantic search for new ones. Rather than being driven towards fragmentation and disorientation, his work leans more towards a paradoxical unity. His film-making background leads to him pay meticulous attention to the images, their editing and their narrative. About his latest activity in the movie field, in 2011 he produces ‘The Dark Side of the Sun’, directed by Carlo Hintermann, premiered at the Rome Film Festival.

His research is gradually moving towards assemblage, installations and performances investigating the concept of memory and divination of life.

Gorna Lipnitsa is a flower/ Ritual for abandoned houses 

"I came from my home town Rome, Italy, to Gorna Lipnitsa with the idea of working on the memories of the people through some objects they own, as my current research is focused on the way some objects can retain our past life and in some way embody it.

In my idea the people of Gorna Lipnitsa would have given me one object important to them to tell me something about their life and I would have collected them in order to create with all them a ‘personal collective’ memory, a sort of living museum in which they would all have been shared with the others. Step by step, meeting the generous people of the town, I realized that in this village and maybe in this country, the perception of memory is a little bit different than in mine. Ten days are surely not enough to understand a whole culture, but it seems to me that here things from the past are kept more in consideration, with a sort of nostalgy that I have rarely met.

(In a country like Bulgaria that many times was menaced to be deprived of its traditions, maybe keeping memories, songs, objects, photos and pictures of the past generations was also one of the fundamental way to keep alive the fire of the local culture. Maybe the past is still an anchor that helps in keeping the culture stable. Maybe.)

After these thoughts, I found that I had to open more the field of my research, and I decided to continue my work in two directions:

-          on one side I worked as planned on the objects that the people I met found worthy to tell a story about their life, gathering fragments of the memories of some of the Gorna Lipnitsa  inhabitants. These memories for me belongs to their PRESENT lives as they contributed to shape them in the way they are now.

-          on the other side I wanted to create a bridge between the PAST and the FUTURE of the village.

In the first case I worked on a small museum-like installation entitled ‘Gorna Lipnitsa is a flower’ from the title of a collage/assemblage I made while in the residency, included in the installation as the objects gathered and the traditional Bulgarian songs that one of the elders of the village, Baba Janka, singed to me. (Baba Janka said that all her memories are not in the objects but in the songs, and those are her personal contribution to my research).

On the second case I decided to work on the other side of my perception of the village.

The people in the village are gentle, with a great spirituality and a great richness in their heart. The houses of people in Gorna Lipnitsa seem to reflect a genuine gentleness and cure, always prideful. But next to a nice house, fruit of the love of its inhabitants, there’s one in ruin since young people are going away searching for a better fortune, and many locals go in other cities and other countries and come back only for holidays.

The old school is closed since there are not so many kids in town,  weeds are growing in the pavement of the streets, animals take the abandoned houses and all the efforts to keep the memory of the life of the town and its community seems to be in danger.

I decided to focus the attention of the village on this side and  to pay homage to all the people which now are not in town and their houses, to the hidden wounds in the village soul. I did this trying to set, as I said, a little bridge between the past and the future of Gorna Lipnitsa.

In Western USA the pioneers used to put a light in the abandoned houses to feel less alone.

I asked the children of the village – the future of Gorna Lipnitsa - to put candels in front of some of the houses that now are in ruin in a night parade through the main streets in town in which also the other partecipants could join bringing flowers as a sign of beauty, decay and hope for renovation. A little ritual to remember the past life of the town, but with the hope that soon the houses will be inhabited by new people and the village could become more and more lively.

As :
Gorna Lipnitsa is a flower
Escaped from its vase
Searching for new roots
Long life to Gorna Lipnitsa!"

Daniele Villa


Ritual for abandoned houses - performance


Gorna Lipnitsa is a Flower - installation


detail of the installation


detail of the installation


detail of the installation


detail of the installation


detail of the installation


detail of the installation



Simone Haack – Germany – Painting  

Simone Haack is a painter, based in Berlin, Germany. She follows the tradition of classical art: she has placed herself in the long tradition of representative, realistic painting and has formed her own unmistakable style. The human being is her prime interest - mainly the female figure. The artist chooses unusual postures and perspectives in her nude paintings. The women usually remain in a body stance that hovers between being existentially highly charged and natural casualness.

Although  her paintings follow the rules of realistic painting, they still establish a reality which we associate with dreams, memory and imagination. This impression is strengthened by the artist abandoning a spatial involvement in the representation. Simone Haack's figures are often placed into a space- less nowhere – stimulating associations and the viewer's fantasy.


55 x 46 cm., oil on canvas



"Make up"
12 x 22 cm., oil on magazine


"Make up"
9 x 10 cm., oil on magazine


"Make up"
7 x 7 cm., oil on magazine


"Make up"
8 x 12 cm., oil on magazine



Damyan Bumbalov BulgariaPainting

Damyan Bumbalov is a painter, born in Yambol, Bulgaria. He lives and works in Veliko Turnovo. Damyan has graduated "Academician Dechko Uzunov" art school in Kazanlak, Bulgaria. He holds a master degree in Scultpure from "St. Cyril and St. Methodius" University of Veliko Turnovo.

Damyan Bumbalov is one of the founders of Gallery "Taralej" (The Hedgehog) - Veliko Turnovo. Various art events in Veliko Turnovo are organized by him, including "Art zone", open - air festival "Samovodska charshiya - craftsmen`s street", "Light installation for the "Earth hour", mini festival "12 hours art".





Images of social rituals from near and distant historical past. 

1. Title: Candle, Radio VEF with batteries - Staying in the dark because of the lack of electricity during evening hours was a ritual performed by every citizen of our country in the past, regardless of their willingness to participate.

2. Title: Always Ready – Acceptance in the Pioneer Organization was an important ritual which emotion is still alive in our generation. 

3. Title: Red Scissors – One of the tragicomedy rituals in our modern history – a ribbon cutting ceremony.  A famous and important person  (most likely Premiere, Minister, President) cuts the red ribbon at the opening of a new project – a highway, street, vegetable garden or the discovery of new animal species.  


Offering Sacrifice

Through the sacrifice I am performing and the fresh blood of  the animal, I provoke everyone to think over the question if we really feel the need to repeat these rituals in future. Everyone has their own opinion on them – what were the reasons for these rituals, what was their purpose and results. My idea is that if we think and act together in a positive way we won't repeat  the mistakes of the past.

Damyan Bumbalov       




Presentation of the performance during the closing exhibition of the residence

/three paintings; clothes in which Damian was wearing during the performance; sheets on which is written Damian’s speech; a model of sacrificial lamb; plastic school boards, spattered with blood / paints from the sacrificial lamb/


Candle, Radio VEF with batteries
60 x 80 cm., acrylic, oil on canvas


Red Scissors
80 x 100 сm., acrylic, oil on canvas


Always Ready
60 x 80 сm., acrylic, oil on canvas



Jenny Haywood – U.K. Wall – Painting

Jenny Haywood is a painter, who lives in Cornwall, U.K. Her main artistic interests are focused in the aria of painting, wall-painting, sculpture and installations. 

„I have been fortunate to work with a whole array of great artists nationally and internationally and have drawn great influence from many of them, as well as from the fantastic places I have had the privilege of living and working in.“


Magic is Alive

"This Mural depicts some of the rituals used in Bulgaria in the past and are still present to distract and banish plague. This mural is in two sections:

The Chuma comes from village to village bringing the plague. She is often accompanied by children and carries a bow and arrow to shoot down her victims and take them to the afterlife.

There are several ways to appease or distract the plague: Chuma, and she is very susceptible to bribery.

One is to offer her loaves smeared with honey which in the mural was not enough for the greedy plague, as she carries them with her. Another technique is distraction. Millet seeds are placed on the steps of an important house in the village with the idea that they will distract the oncoming sickness with the counting of them, and that she will not enter.

A young ghost child is depicted in the painting pulling her by hair slowly away from the families of the village.

Ghosts visit at night and are often seen in the form of a child on a baby animal. I have chosen a deer, as deer are often symbolised as being a transitional animal on the borders of the spirit world. This is conducive to the second part.

In the second part of the mural another ritual is being performed; the ritual of the ‘live fire’.

This must be performed by two people who are either twins or have sworn brotherhood. These are the former and it is shown in the mural.

The rub together two sticks from one of the sacred trees: juniper, linden, hazel, beech, ash, or willow trees (In this one is beech, and they grow above in a forest; a sacred place, at midnight) to create a spark of flame which lightens the borders between the worlds of the living and dead.

I have made the style quite simple and fairytale-like as it is in its nature as a wall painting a gift to the people of the village and they must all therefore children through to old age be able to understand the forms and have the opportunity to relate to it in some way.

This is my contribution to the people of Gorna Lipnitsa. I hope you enjoy it."

Jenny Haywood



The mural was painted by Jenny on the wall of a house in the center of the village



















Goran Pamukov – Bulgaria – Painting

Goran Pamukov is a painter born in Sofia and now living and working in Ruse. He has graduated graphics in VTU “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” – Veliko Tarnovo.

“Everything around me could be used

WHAT? I create paintings – collages, made with mixed media in which different expressive portraits and forms are built-in with vanguard style, showing the current psychological state of the creator.

HOW? I stretch one old sheet on a rotten frame of window. Then pour a jar of glue C 200 on the old, eaten by moths sheet. There are several cans of paint and ferrolite around me.

I use different textures for the background – foil, old socialist papers, fabrics. After a few hours painting with a stick the piece is ready!

INSPIRATION. I draw inspiration from the cave paintings to the modern painters like Willem de Kooning and Basquiat."


“Transformation" - triptych /mixed media on canvas/

"Everything around me could be used. Mixed technique, performed by different textures and oil.

The triptych depicts the possible duality of each ritual – it shows the process of transformation from mummer/beast to wood nymph"




40 x 50 сm., mixed media on canvas


"Mummer/ Wood nymph"
60 x 70 сm., mixed media on canvas



"Wood nymphs"
46 x 55 сm., oil on canvas


"Freedom" - installation
acrylic on canvas, old portrait found in the school

"This installation shows the differences between two worlds:

1.    The past is represented with the portrait of Lenin – this was time of socialist regime and the inability to express yourself;

2. The present /expressive figures / -  the possibility to express yourself freely;

In creating this installation I worked with model – a girl from the village. First I painted her body with red paint, and then I made prints on canvas. "

Goran Pamukov


70 x 100 сm., charcoal drawing on paper


acrylic on paper



Martin Petrov– Bulgaria – Painting


"Floral ritual dance"

60 x 60 сm., acrylic on canvas



50 x 60 сm., acrylic on canvas


"Ritual paths"
50 x 60 сm., acrylic on canvas



"Ritual masks"
50 x 60 сm., acrylic on canvas


"Simone‘s ritual"
80 x 100 сm., acrylic on canvas

"While Simone draws, she makes mysterious ritual with hands."

Martin Petrov



Children from the village with the assistance of the artists - Anelia Ivanova and Petar Petrov


90  x 90 сm., painted plaster casts of the faces of children from the village




hand made paper



Yana Kuneva  – Bulgaria – Painting

My home is my temple

"The temple is a holy place for the act of a ritual. It is God‘s cloister, powerful energy center, the portal leading trought the reality of sacredness. The temple is not only an image and product of the religious institution. It is the nessesary premise for the realisation of a ritual and mystique act. The temple is a place for meditation, where a person can observe his inner self a place of solitude and detachment from the world, the transition to another reality.

Association of the temple with the home lies in the natural course of individual human development. It is intuitive vision created by human‘s need to feel protected. Images of the temple as home exsists in almost all world wide spread religions. Transfering their spiritual experience at home, people create altars, as often these altars have the form of temple. Small models of the „home-temple“ are placed in the  sanctuaries all over the world . In a lot of the most non-dogmatic tribal religions and mythologies home has been accosiated with the center of the world. Every habitant had the belief, that exactly his home is this center and this was his temple.

Trough the way of urbanization and social structuring however, the home started to lose it‘s sacred role. It transformed from a place keeping the individual world and spirit in a simply place for living – a shelter . Home in it‘s contemporary type  is more like an expression of certain material benefits and achievments or the lack of the same. More than half the world's population resides in urban environment. The bigger part of this urban population is literally multiplied in panel appartments. Almost 70 percent of the world population lives below the poverty line, directing the majority of its energy in the interest of survival . The world‘s spiritual life has been massively profanized and our civilization is still in it‘s materialistic phase.

The are of course different spiritual levels in the differents places in the world. General categorization is too extreme however. The religions of the East – buddhism, hinduism , dao and even more ancient and archaic religions such as japanese shinto and bonpo religion are forming a large group of people. They are  also living at the edge of survival , but for which is not valid the term „ poor thinking“ . There are still individualities for which the ritual is not an archaic phenomenon, which appears regulary in the modern living.

Home, it is my temple, my image, my shelter."

Yana Kuneva


"My home is my temple"

acrylic on vinyl


"My home is my temple" I

140 x 100 сm., acrylic on vinyl


"My home is my temple" II
140 x 100 сm., acrylic on vinyl



Ivo Simeonov - Bulgaria - performance

Dialogue - performance


"My name is Ivo. I joined the residence in the village of Gorna Lipnitsa and the Ritual Art project as a guest - artist. I liked the theme, and I had an idea about it. I did describe myself in this case as a figurative conceptual artist. The project I worked on was directed to the participants themselves - nine artists and one biologist who I met on the spot. My idea about my participation was to communicate with the artists in the form of a questionnaire with 12 questions. Each artist had to answer it in the form of graphic drawings. I only had one requirement - the answer to any question to be spontaneous and to reflect the very first reaction of the artist. The questions were simple and intelligible at first glance, but they contained information about the psychological state of the person who answered them.

This was the starting point of my work. I spend some time to figure out the meaning of the images of each author and to analyze them. For me personally, it was an amusing challenge. Here I used my longstanding knowledge in the field of symbolism of images, religion, cultural studies and my newly gained knowledge gained in psychology.

As an artist, I had to exactly copy the hand, the manner and the peculiarities of the style and the painting of each of the participants, to sort and merge his answers in a new composition. All the time I felt awkwardly, because imitating somebody’s hand and way of painting. I hoped that this would improve the communication between us and will expand our scope of imagination and knowledge.

I turned the final layout of my drawings into postcards.

I put my cards in envelopes addressed to the participants and posted them.......

They had to receive a gift - memory of a conceptual Dialogue. And they received it!"

Ivo Simeonov


Presentation of the performance during the closing exhibition of the residence


Postcard to Jenny  и and her response to Ivo: "Yeo, I got the postcard yesterdey eve but was working today. Thank you!! It's wicked. I will fame it."


Postcard to Trevor.


Postcard to Simone and her response to Ivo:
" i got you card today, i had to smile when i opened it!! you drew me a happy world with a lot of people and a house with lovers as the door, and the "self" (the dreamer with the magician heat) is floating over the whole happening, near the sky, reigning softly over light and dark...and even the dark elements get a light meaning with your composition.."


Postcard to Daniele and his response to Ivo:  "ciao ivo,
the postcard was a wonderful surprise. it is like i have all the coordinates of my life in only one picture. very enigmatic and emotional."


Postcard to Yana and her response to Ivo:
"Иво, получих картичката ти. Направо не мога да повярвам , че не аз, а  друг човек е рисувал."


Postcard to Hristo and his response to Ivo: "Много хубаво се е получило. Благодаря. Ще работя над посланията."


Postcard to Plamen and his response to Ivo: "Очарован съм! Много ти благодаря!"


Postcard to Goran and his respose to Ivo: "Получих писмото. Страхотна картичка :) Мерси"


Postcard to Damyan and his respose to Ivo: "Тази сутрин ме зарадваха по пощата...... Как разбра, че всичко решавам на маса?"


Postcard to Martin and his response to Ivo: "Да, Братчет, много яко....много се изкефих. Благодарско!!!"



Alina d’Alva Duchrow – Brasil/Tunisia – Visual art and Installations  

Alina Duchrow is a visual artist, who lives in Tunisia.  

„My work consists in take risks. The risk to meet the other without a frame or pre-defined idea. The starting point of my creative process is to let myself be affected by the "world", be this “world” a place, a person or an event, and allow a poetic form emerge from this affection. Distract myself enough of myself to find what is not sought but that happened.“

"To give body to an absence"

"The idea is to make a "duo" drawing. During the five days of next week, an artist in Bulgaria and I in Tunisia will choose a specific time of day to sit down, do a meditation 20-30 minutes and make a drawing.

Neither artists will have access to these drawings until the final day of residence, when they will be exposed side by side as a single work."

Alina d’Alva Duchrow


The drawings of Alina d’Alva Duchrow, Damyan Bumbalov, Yana Kuneva и Trevor Knott made after meditation



Nigor Pilnatsa

Ritual art – installation

/three paintings – acrylic and oil on canvas; seven collages; white canvas on which is written text with acrylic; colored cords /


The installation represents a ritually created sanctuary which purpose is to make a ray by weaving the threads of the participants in the residence, their works, the spirit of the place and the theme of the residence in 2013 - Ritual Art. The newly formed ray is released to move freely in space and to have its effect on the reality. This effect is the ultimate purpose of the installation.


„Without end“ – detail of the installation
46 x 55 сm., acrylic, oil on canvas


 "In choosing the canvas/ on which was painted Without End/ the most important thing was its story. The canvas was purchased in the fall of 2010 from art store in Veliko Tarnovo. The owner of the store at that time was Krasimira Dimitrova – an artist and participant in the first residence in Gorna Lipnitsa  - "Legend Collectors", 2010.  Next year, during the second edition of The Old School residence - "The Fellowship of the Legends ", 2011, the canvas was stretched on wooden frame by the team of the residence. It left unused by the participants in the third residence – The End as a Beginning: Gorna Lipnitsa and the Beginning of the World - 2012". Finally, I decided to paint on this canvas after the end of the fourth edition of the residence - "Ritual Art" , 2013. My painting is created with paints which were collected from the palettes of the participating artists.

In other words – the canvas radiates the energy of all editions of the residence conducted so far.“



“The Forest” – detail from installation, Jenny Haywood and Nigor Pilnaca
50x50 cm., acrylic on canvas


„Jenny Haywood started to paint this painting during the residence in 2013, but she couldn`t finish it. Later on I wrote a letter to Jenny, asking her to let me finish the canvas. On 12.09.2013 I got her permission and I started painting.

The painting represents a version of group ritual with the participants of the residence in which each artist is depicted with a specific color. The color is chosen as a result of my concentration. With this specific color each artist will be presented in all elements of the installation – paintings, collages and color cords.”


“I believe” – detail from installation
50x60 cm. acrylic on canvas

“The painting represents an enlarged version of one of the stylized human figures from The Forest. The five main principles of the ritual art as a style of creation are written around the figure.“


21 Dec, 2013
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