A Sense of Place : The Acres : an artist in residence July 11 2023

So, what is an Artist's Residency? A residency is usually a set period in a specific place, often with requirements around work produced, an exhibition or perhaps community engagement. An artist is given time and space to respond to that place. Residencies have been around for years, all around the world, sometimes funded and sometimes the artist will fund the time themselves. I applied for one when I was in between my BA and my MA. I got to the interview stage but alas, wasn’t successful. The residency was in a healthcare facility in Bradford, the artist was required to work with patients and create a piece of textile art for a stairwell. I am still hopeless in interviews, and I was particularly terrible back then, plus spending 3 months in Bradford in the early 1990s was not that appealing.

Ever since then, I have wanted to participate in a residency, it's on my artist bucket list. The idea was filed away in the back of my brain until I went to talk with Dayboro artist Amanda Gardner in November 2022. She had just completed an artist residency, which was at her home. She had spent her time researching, reading, and making. While she was talking about her experiences and work, I had a light bulb moment. I knew exactly where I wanted to do a residency.

In 2021 I contacted a local flower grower about sourcing some flowers from her farm for a large still-life commission I had been given. My client was very particular about the flowers in the painting. He had stated no lilies, natives, or dahlias. I was truly uninspired by the flowers from local supermarkets and didn’t have the budget for a florist. I messaged the flower farm and headed out to the property to collect freshly grown local flowers and I was in awe.

Following my light bulb moment, I contacted the farm again and asked if we could meet for a chat. The owner had recently bought a local florist and I met her there. I briefly explained the concept of an artist’s residency she was immediately all in.I started the residency at The Acres in Upper Camp Mountain on 15 May 2023.  I intend to work and make work about the farm for a full calendar year. A farm is about the cycle of growth, renewal, harvest, restoring and replanting and I will be observing, responding, and recording that over an entire year.

By mid-May and I was ready to get going with the residency. The summer heat had gone, and a new cycle was beginning at the Farm.

It has now been 2 months since I started and I have been making drawings, taking 100s of photos, getting the know the dogs, painting and absorbing the rhythm of The Acres. It is a very special place and I love the time I spend there. My work will explore the idea of genius loci and a sense of place whilst documenting my year.

We are planning a mid-residency exhibition in November and a final one in May 2024. I will be making large-scale paintings for the shows, plus my sketchbooks, notes, drawings photographs and original prints.