Immersion 2019: Terra Magica

Presencing retreat in Rovinj, Istria, Croatia – May 2019

  • Visit Istria, one of the most enchanting Mediterranean regions
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture and nature guided by expert guides; from art historians, to master chefs
  • Develop your artistic expression, skill and meditative insight guided by expert artist and meditation instructor

What is Immersion?

Immersion is a cultural presencing* retreat developed around three pillars:

  • immersion into the culture of a specific geographical area, especially history and lifestyle of the people, their art, architecture, gastronomy, philosophy, religion and natural wonders,
  • immersion into meditative arts and
  • immersion into visual arts through painting.

(*Presencing = „To sense, tune in, and act from one’s highest future potential—the future that depends on us to bring it into being. Presencing blends the words presence and sensing and works through seeing from our deepest source.“ – Dr. Otto Scharmer)

Immersion is a deep dive into the unknown. Instead of trying to direct change in our lives, we host what is wanting to be born. Instead of trying to control, we let go and let come. Instead of expecting the future to look like the past with just a few tweaks, we invite a new future to emerge based on the learning of the past.

During the retreat, you immerse yourself into a carefully designed series of experiences connected with a geographical area abundant with beauty. In this setting, we are invited to use all of our senses to witness what is present. In such an encounter, it is easy for our mind to suspend our judgements, opinions, assumptions and habitual mental models, and to use our eyes and ears and the feeling of our bodies to sense into whatever the context is.

We listen into the space and learn from the present moment, letting go of our expertise and experience. This is the time to reflect by asking ”What wants to emerge in my life?” and ”How does that relate to the journey forward?” The key question is: how can I become part of the story of the future rather than holding on to the story of the past?

Then we “let come” what wants to emerge. We bring insights, sparks of inspiration, and crystals of ideas into prototypes – our own personal works of art. We learn to use painting as a medium of expression. Through painting, we explore our insights.

Where is Immersion 2019 – Terra Magica being held?

There are three regions in the Mediterranean belt renowned worldwide for their unique blend of beauty, culture and history: Provence, Tuscany and Istria. Istria, the least explored of the three, is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. Veiled in myth and mystery, the ancient Romans named it “Terra Magica”, meaning Magical Land. Here are just some of its wonders, hidden in plain sight:

  • Istrian Dirt Covers Treasure – Literally. The forest soil along the valley in Central and Northern Istria hides white and black variations of truffles. Istria is the world truffle centre, where the largest truffle in the world has been discovered and recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

  • Istria is the Land of the Liquid Gold – according to one of the most relevant European olive oil guides, Flos Olei, Istria is the best olive oil region of the world.

  • Istria is a gourmet paradise – It is the home of celebrity master chefs and food-trendsetters well established and known amongst gourmets, especially in Italy, Austria and Germany. Istrian cuisine has undoubtedly always been a fusion of tasty treasures with a variety of contrasts which always manages to give visitors something new served up on the menu. The perfect way to completely feel the wealth of delicious flavors and scents of Istria is by stepping inside any of the abundant Istrian restaurants and taverns, tasting what the culinary treasures of the Istrian region are truly all about.

  • Istria is the Land of Giants, Fairies and… Vampires. Some 240 years before Bram Stoker put his Count Dracula to paper, the villagers of Kringa already had to deal with Jure Grando. You can still see in their descendant’s faces – that was no picnic. Giant Veli Jože, on the other hand, became a hero and role model for the people of Istria for his hard work and his dedication to freedom and justice. Istrian fairies and leprechauns, here known as shiggy-miggy still roam around.

  • Istria’s Euphrasius Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary is an episcopal complex, an excellent example of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region. There are many stories about the significance of the building, especially its breath-taking mosaic.

  • The Istrian coastline is over 500 kilometres long and a great variety of beaches is on offer, from the modern urban beaches, sandy beaches of Medulin, to small, hidden embayments.

  • Istria – Inspiration for Literature Icons. Dante Alighieri, Jules Verne and James Joyce are perhaps the best known literature greats to have been inspired by Istria. Adventurous Verne was inspired by the Pazin fort and the deep pit nearby and used it as a central location for one of his novels.

  • Ancient, Medieval, Imperial and Royal Istria. In the 11th century BC Istria was inhabited by the Histri – prehistoric Illyrian tribe after whom Istria was named. Romans conquered Histri and took power of the Istria peninsula in 178 BC. They established the port of Pietas Iulia (modern Pula), built its Forum and Amphitheater – the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. Constructed in 27 BC – 68 AD, it is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the World. The first forts on the Istrian peninsula were erected over 3,000 years ago. Dozens of forts from the time when the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled over Istria are still very well preserved. During the rule Habsburg monarchs, Empress Sissy laid the founding stone of the shipyard in Pula. The market of the city was a glass and steel architectural wonder of the time, built in the same style as Eiffel tower in Paris.

In short – Istria is a place where you can drink a shot of an ancient druid’s elixir, visit the world’s smallest city, feast in gourmet delicacies and admire Roman heritage.

Tatjana Krizmanic – artist and retreat leader

Tatjana Krizmanic is known for her brilliant pastel drawings and oil paintings, which depict ordinary life with a distinctly European sensibility. Krizmanic’s work is marked by a warm cheerfulness, where bright colors and swirling perspectives make everyday settings come alive, such as a trip to the farmers’ market or morning coffee. Surreal and inventive, her work recalls Chagall, Matisse, Klimt, Picasso – influences she grew up with.

Born in Zagreb, Tatjana started painting at age fourteen. After studying at the University of Zagreb, she moved to Washington, D.C. where she completed her studies at Georgetown University. Over the next ten years she created paintings for friends and patrons, while working as an art director.

Since her first exhibit in Boulder, Colorado, she has built a strong following, and her paintings reside in numerous private collections and museums. Her work is shown in galleries in United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. Krizmanic divides her time between her home on the Adriatic coast of Croatia and New York City.

A character of Tatjana’s work, whether figurative, abstract, or realist, is her inventiveness. Tatjana approaches new media, new subject matter, and new styles with a fearless trust in her creativity. That lack of timidity produces bold colors and confident compositions where the intention is to express mood, scene, the tonality of light and play of color. Thematic concerns and repetitive studies are less common in her work; instead a responsiveness to the world and life and an urge or yearning to express the human reaction to life comes forth boldly, playfully, and with a large dose of appreciation.

What is the program of Immersion 2019?

This is an 8-day retreat.

(You arrive at Rovinj and check-in at the hotel a day before.)

Day 1. Morning of the first day is reserved for rest after the trip and slowly getting to know the surroundings. The program starts after lunch, with the introduction to the retreat schedule and program. You will familiarize yourself with the materials that will be used during the painting workshops, have a chance to try them out and get the first intuition into what you would like to paint or draw.

Day 2. Every day we will start with a guided meditation in the morning, before breakfast. This will give your mind a chance to deepen the immersive experience of the retreat and open wide the doors of presencing, a state used in creative endeavors by artists, inventors, innovators, leaders… After breakfast, the painting class will start and you will be guided by an experienced artist in developing your ideas and painting skills. This will be a Studio class. The afternoon of Day 2 is free for taking a walk in the nature, exploring the local life, sports and recreation activities or further developing your artistic expression.

Day 3. Morning meditation, followed by breakfast. The class this morning is a guided outdoor sketching with themes from the local surrounding. One of the best things that you can ever do as an artist is to go outside and sketch the world around you. Sketching outdoors helps us to see the world with fresh eyes, it sharpens our ability to capture the essentials of any scene quickly, and increases our awareness of our subject. And we also get fresh air and exercise into the bargain! Sketching outdoors is not just a great experience – it can also help you become a better artist. Afternoon, following lunch, is devoted to further development of your artistic expression and skill.

Day 4. Morning meditation, followed by breakfast. We will use this day for a guided study tour with a local art historian through magical medieval towns of Motovun and Grožnjan. These are the two of the most beloved towns in Istria.  Situated at the hilltops in northern Istria, they are surrounded by vineyards and here you can sample the region’s finest wines. While Motovun hosts movie festivals during the summer, a cultural centerpiece of the region, Groznjan, boasts many artists and musicians, most of whom show off their talents in the numerous workshops and performances. We will visit the UNESCO Basilica in Poreč. The group of religious monuments in Poreč, where Christianity was established as early as the 4th century, constitutes the most complete surviving complex of its type. The basilica, atrium, baptistery and episcopal palace are outstanding examples of religious architecture, while the basilica itself combines classical and Byzantine elements in an exceptional manner. Next stop is the Church of St. Mary on Škriljinah, a 15th century Gothic church. In the church interior there is the Danse Macabre (from the French language), also called the Dance of Death, one of the most well-known series of frescoes and, along with the Arena in Pula and Euphrasian Basilica, the most recognizable cultural monument of Istria. The Dance of Death is an artistic genre of allegory of the Late Middle Ages on the universality of death. We will finish our tour with the visit of St. Foška Curch in the historical stone town of Balle. The narrow and cobbled streets that surround the medieval, 15th century castle belonging to the Bembo family, hide many unrevealed stories. St. Foška’s Church is a three-nave basilica. Preserved Benedictine paintings are probably the most fascinating example of the Romanesque mural painting in Croatia.

Day 5. Morning meditation, followed by breakfast. The class this morning is a guided studio class, dedicated to people sketching, learning to use different materials and deepening the skills of presencing while paining. Afternoon, following lunch, is devoted to profound deepening of your artistic expression and skill. This is the pinnacle of Immersion. Usualy at this point for presencing practitioners, whether in solitude with nature or during an immersive retreat, presencing gives way to a subtle yet significant shift in the nature of our experience. Various metaphors have clarified what is involved perceptually with this inner shift.  The visual metaphor of going through “the eye of the needle” (Dr. Otto Scharmer), “the distributed self” (Francisco Varela), “virtual subject” (Dr. Peter Senge), and “a deep connection with source” (Joseph Jaworski) among others. According to the Bible, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The phrase “eye of the needle” refers to a gate in ancient Jerusalem: For a man to fit his camel through Jerusalem’s gate, he had to remove all the bags from the camel’s back. Likewise, we have to let go of everything and offload all the baggage that isn’t essential. Going through that gate means encountering the two root questions of our journey: “Who is my Self?” and “What is my Work?” The capital-S Self is our highest future possibility. The capital-W Work is our sense of purpose or calling. It’s what we are here on this earth to do. In the evening, we immerse ourselves once again in the local culture, this time guided by a local master chef in a gastronomy and cooking class. Does seafood taste saltier when accompanied by the sound of the sea? This multi-sensory culinary voyage blends art and gastronomy in a way which will tease our senses.

Day 6. Morning meditation, followed by breakfast. We will use the morning for a nature tour – either a boat trip along the peninsula (weather permitting), or a gastronomy and local culture tour. In this way, we further immerse into unknown, opening our mind and our senses to new experiences. All of these immersion points serve to help us encounter and notice the three principal enemies of our natural, open being: the voice of doubt and judgment (shutting down the open mind / wisdom), the voice of cynicism (shutting down the open heart / compassion), and the voice of fear (shutting down the open will / creativity). Late afternoon will be devoted to studio class and finishing your artwork.

Day 7. Morning meditation, followed by breakfast. The class this morning is a guided studio class, helping us to polish what we learned about painting and finalize our retreat. It is devoted to collective presencing, learning from sharing our experiences and through question and answer session. In the evening we will have an exhibition, followed by a group farewell dinner.

Program details & summary

  • Location: Rovinj (exact event venue to be determined)
  • Date: May 2019 (exact dates to be determined)
  • Price: $3.600. The price includes art and meditation instructions, art historian guidance, master chef for cooking class and local excursions around Istria (boat, minibus to various cultural sites). The price does not include travel to the main event venue (Rovinj), accomodation and food expenses, painting materials and gratuities.
  • Minimum age is 16 years.
  • Cancellation policy: For a full refund, cancel at least 12 days in advance of the start date of the program.
  • Applications and inquires regarding the program: daniela.miljan@aspiria.org
  • Program summary:
  1. Saturday: Arrival, check-in, Lunch. Afternoon: Introduction to Immersion
  2. Sunday: 8:00 – 9:00 guided meditation. 10:00 – 2:00 Studio Class. Lunch. Free afternoon – walking and sketching, developing creative ideas.
  3. Monday: 8:00 – 9:00 guided meditation. 10:00 – 2:00 Outdoor sketching Class (local market colors, boats, sea, …). Lunch. Free working afternoon – developing an idea.
  4. Tuesday: 10:00 – 6:00 Guided study tour with an local art historian (Motovun, Grožnjan, Poreč Basilica, Beram The Dance of Death, Bale St. Foška Curch). Lunch. Time for drawing and sketching
  5. Wednesday: 8:00 – 9:00 guided meditation. 10:00 – 2:00 Studio Class (people sketching, with more materials, deepening the skill). Lunch. Free working afternoon – deep dive creativity.
  6. Thursday: 8:00 – 9:00 guided meditation. 10:00 – 2:00 Boat trip. Lunch. 4:00 – 7:00 Studio Class (finishing my artwork).
  7. Friday: 8:00 – 9:00 guided meditation. 10:00 – 2:00 Studio Class (Finalizing, Q&A, more materials, tips and tricks …). Lunch. 6:00 pm – Exhibition. 8:00 pm – Group dinner.
  8. Saturday: Check out and goodbye.
  • Total Art Class hours: 25
  • Total Free Art hours: 16
  • Grand Total Workshop hours: 41

This program requires a minimum number of participants to operate. There is a possibility that the program may be canceled after confirmation if there is not enough participants to meet requirements. In the event of this occurring, you will be provided the option to take the program on an alternative date or be refunded in full.