TRELEX RESIDENCY 2015
On 12 January I arrived at Geneva airport with a suitcase full of more paints than clothes to spend three weeks as an artist in residence on the Trélex Residency programme. The residency was founded three years ago by artist Nina Rodin and takes up the top floor of her family home in Switzerland. Nina and I came to know one another during our BA studies together at Camberwell UAL and so I’d been keen for a while to come and spend time at the residency and work alongside each other again.
The set up is a self-contained live in workspace complete with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom and a large studio space with plenty of light, shelves full of books and materials and two movable walls. I shared the studio with both Nina and fellow artist in residence Rebecca Molloy and although we did a fair amount of wall manoeuvring we chose mostly to arrange the space to be as open plan as possible. The windows look out on to the garden which is surrounded by countryside and in the distance the mountains. Trélex itself is located on the northwest side of Lake Geneva, in the district of Nyon, it’s a small town with a bakery, restaurant, post office and little shop – which I saw open only once in my whole time there.
I went with the intention of getting stuff done but in reality, three weeks isn’t that long and between the three of us we had a lot to say. So our time was split generously between making work and talking about work. Actively sharing thoughts, challenging one another on our ideas in an effort to refine what the point might be or to push a concept further. I completely underestimated how much input I would receive simply by working in the same studio space as Nina and Becca, I was pushed even on a technical level in terms of my use of colour and painting technique, I really tried to keep an open mind and to listen properly. Since being back I’ve missed working in the company of others, there’s something better about being able to spread a conversation out over a longer period of time, with space to think in between comments and come back with thoughts as and when they come to you. In the same way, I also found suggestions would sink in better, you don’t forget because the conversation surrounding them is ongoing.
We also made time for adventures. There’s so much countryside in the surrounding areas to explore, early on in the trip we took the bikes out into the forest to experiment with some installation ideas. I had in mind an idea to light a fabric forest fire and take photographs for incorporating into my series of forest fire paintings and Becca took a can of squirty cream to use in a series of short forest graffiti video pieces. We spent a number of afternoons going for walks and when it snowed we built a snowman in the garden with some less than conventional fixtures.
On a few occasions we went further afield and took the 30-minute train journey to Geneva for exhibitions and sightseeing and nearer the end of our stay, we hosted an open studio coffee morning where Becca threw everyone in at the deep end with the squirty cream videos. On the last day, we took the train up to St.Cergue and went snowshoeing through the woods and over the mountains and were wowed by the view over Nyon and Lake Geneva.
For anyone interested in being an artist in residence in Trélex then I would recommend reading this post, which Nina wrote to reflect on some of the achievements and realisations from having run the residency for two years. Nina talks here about lots of things including the affect the residency environment has had on her own practice, the growing network of Trélex residents and the benefits to be found in not having application forms. To go for between three weeks and three months is recommended and all that’s required is for you to check the availability and book your flights. It’s also worth mentioning that Nina has recently helped to set up a second residency in the amazonian rainforest in Peru… for something a little different!
This is only a short summary of our time in Trélex – I did also write a diary of sorts, a little each day, which has been mostly for myself (so not to forgot) but it also goes into much more detail and has links to extra bits of information etc… 12 Jan (day one) > >