Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Trelex Residency


I was offered an opportunity to take up a short residency in Trelex, Switzerland with my daughter as a first parent resident. 

As I only had a couple of weeks, I decided to focus on exploring the immediate surroundings of Trelex and nearby town Nyon. There are some attractions for kids in Trelex (walks, playground, exercise circuit in nearby woods, visits to local bakery for morning rolls) and plentiful in Nyon. The most surprising however is the house itself – large with numerous rooms often connected in a maze-like fashion. Combined with an enormous garden with hidden doll house, vegetable garden and swing/hammocks area, it creates an amazing adventure ground for kids (an grown-ups alike). The family was very welcoming and my daughter quickly made friends with the other children. We would join in their trips to the lakeside for an evening swim or to have a barbecue picnic in the woods. 

The living/working space felt very comfortable and easy. Spacious studio areas were easy to rearrange depending on my needs and provided inspiration to keep going back to making. There was a great variety of art supplies and tools to hand, plus and interesting range of materials in outdoor sheds which were ideal to use for temporary structures. I found making work in Trelex easy, at the same time enjoying trips out, playing with kids, writing and experimenting in the studio kitchen. I was particularly keen to capture the lighting conditions in the afternoon and having my daughter nearby proved beneficial. She was happy, in exchange for a chocolate-type reward, to perform for my photographs and short films. 

I arrived at the beginning of residency with few ideas to test and develop towards my upcoming show at the Slade. Much of my past work has referred to the idea of home as a spatio-temporal concept and the more recent inquiries dealt with negotiating perceptions about art, labour and the domestic. In a way the situation of the residency was a form of negotiation in itself. I have become intrigued by boxes as packaging but also temporary structures: Emptiness offers itself up as the box opens its folds. The surprise of the flat pattern, the icon both familiar and unidentifiable. Then the folds collapse back and carve out a bit of space. Walls are formed around a promise of home. For a short while the structure lies to us of its solidity until it dissolves again

During the last days of my residency I overlapped with Yuki Aruga and we started to strike up some great conversations. I would have loved to continue these as well as the conversations with Nina who runs the residency programme. The final presentation to Nina, her husband David and a few of local residents was not only enjoyable but it became a constructive critical debate. I particularly liked David’s comments on loose artist talk and contrasting these with his philosophy background and a need for making the arguments clear and understood (paraphrasing “you may not need to agree with me but I need you to understand me”). Many of the points raised still echo with me...

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