29 October 2011

What is an Artist Residency?

Small Pond Arts is, amongst other things, an artist residency.  "Now what," you might ask, as many people do, "is an artist residency?"  At a minimum, residencies provide artists with space to create new work.  At Small Pond, we hope to give artists much more. 

"Supporting today’s artists in the creation of new work is essential to human progress — not as a luxury, not as a leisure activity, but as a vital and necessary force in society. Artists’ communities are not about retreat; they are about advancement. Advancing creativity. Advancing human progress. Advancing the way we examine the world." - artistcommunities.org

In the last year and a half, we have hosted more than 60 resident artists.  How they have used their time with us is as different as the artists themselves.

Resident artists are given free reign of our beautiful 87-acre farm, located just outside the town of Picton, Ontario, Canada.  If you have no idea how big 87 acres is, let’s just say you could easily fit a neighbourhood or a small town within it.  Artists are provided with a private bedroom or space to camp.  Starting in 2012 we will also have a funky 1967 airstream-like trailer that will be available for rental.  We have a barn that can be used as a studio or rehearsal space from spring through fall; we also use the barn for performances and exhibitions.  We have a workshop full of tools and supplies that is often a hive of creativity.  

Plus, we have more fresh air, green grass, wildflowers and butterflies than you can shake a stick at.

The Small Pond vibe is casual and creative.  We have few rules, relying on mutual respect and common sense to lead the way.  We eat our meals communally, making room for camaraderie and conversation to blossom.  We ask our residents to contribute one hour of chores per day – and other than that, their time is their own.

Some artists paint paintings.  Others take photos.  Some write plays, some make music, some create sculptures.  Puppeteers create and perform shows.  Students make short films. Lots of our visiting artists do more than one thing.  Many of them try something new.  When they need a break they ride bikes, bake cookies, swing in the hammock, scope out Picton’s thrift stores, take naps, walk in the woods.

We invite resident artists to play an active role in our festivals and productions; we have at least one event per month between June and October.

They are welcome to contribute artwork and installations to our artists’ trail.  There are no creative limits – our farm is an expansive outdoor gallery to which anyone may contribute.

Milé and I are both artists ourselves, and our goal with Small Pond was to create the type of place that we’d want to run away to for an artistic escape.  

Judging by the responses from our residents, I think we've succeeded.   Here are what a few of them have had to say:

“I couldn’t have possibly imagined what this place would be like, and it blew all of my expectations away.  The talented, awesome people who are drawn here fit perfectly into the amazing mould for community you have here.” – A.G.M.

“We had an absolutely amazing time here, we will definitely count it in among our favourite trips.  We don’t want to leave!” – N.M. & K.N.

“I’m so appreciative to have had this experience and get to see the beauty & love you all put in to this home/center/haven.  It was a beautiful week that felt so comfortable, warm & open – like being at the most familiar place I’d never been.” – R.K.

“This has been an inspiring experience for me.  The love and hard work that you’ve invested into Small Pond is fantastic and really left a great impression.  Thank you for having me!” – I.L.

We’re currently booking artists for future residencies.  Want to count yourself amongst them?  For more info, please visit our website:  http://www.smallpondarts.ca/residencies.htm... and start dreaming about the possibilities.

14 October 2011

Scarecrow Festival

This year Small Pond Arts took over the annual Prince Edward County Scarecrow Festival, previously run by our friends at Galloping Goat Gallery.  Each year the festival's proceeds benefit a charity, and this year we chose ArtsCan Circle, an organization that I volunteer with.

We held the event on the Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend, and the weather was absolutely glorious. 

There were a lot of things I loved about this event. 

I loved the family vibe, so evident at Thanksgiving when families come together.

I loved the way people worked together.  Making a scarecrow is just one of those things that is hard to do alone (and not nearly as much fun!).  Nobody was crying or rushing or complaining or fighting – everybody was just getting it done, in their own time.

ArtsCan volunteer David Joyce (L),  makes a scarecrow
with Executive Director Carol Teal (R)
I loved seeing people exercise their creativity.  I don’t think there were too many in the crowd that would call themselves artists, but everyone was forced to flex their creative muscles to make their scarecrow.

No two scarecrows were the same, but each had its own kooky charm.

How can a barfing pumpkin be so damn cute?!?
There’s something kind of primal about building these life-size images of ourselves, something that we all just know how to do…

Time to get topical: #Occupy Wall Street Scarecrow
And of course I loved raising money for ArtsCan Circle.  If feels really great to have so much fun AND get to make a contribution to an awesome charity.

A huge THANKS to our supporters this year: Picton Home Hardware, Second Time Around, County Photographer Phil Norton, Andrew & Emily’s No Frills, Honey Wagon Farms, George Emlaw, Galloping Goat Gallery, City Revival... we couldn't have done it without you!

See you next year!

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday October 6, 2012