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.

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