29 Aug - 20 Sept 2017
This summer I had the privilege to spend 3 weeks at the Trelex residency, an opportunity that literally fell into my lap when sitting on the tube in London in early July while thinking how great it would be to get out of this busy town and to focus on my writing. Voila! A few weeks later I was already on my way to Geneva airport. Going on a residency is always a funny thing because it feels a little bit like going on holiday but at the same time, it is not a holiday because you want to make sure you make the best out of having time and space to focus on your practice or in my case writing. (Self-imposed) Pressure to produce on residencies can be paralysing and thinking about Nieztsche and how much he got done during his visits to Sils Maria (Engadin, Switzerland) during the 1880s didn't really help me to decrease it. No comparison with Nietzsche and myself is intended in this statement. Anyway coming back to the residency in Trelex, it just offers a great environment to deal with this double-edged-sword of pressure and pleasure. While diving deeply into the theory and analysis of my practice, I also managed to dip my feet into the lovely lake Geneva and climb the hills right behind Trelex. All activities that are connected and beneficial to each other. The first time I went up to St. Cergue, I wasn't entirely sure about distance and how long it would take; like being on the residency, you don't know entirely what to expect when you walk a path for the first time. After 90-minutes of uphill walking, I heard some cowbells…and there they were, two of most content cows I have ever met. Having an entire meadow for themselves, enjoying what nature has to offer.
A potential analogy to the residency? Maybe… two artists having a huge amount of space and enjoying what nature has to offer?! The second time I went up the mountain (by bike, just for the record) … by the time I heard the cowbells I started feeling content as well, must be contagious. Content about so many things including my progress on writing, even though the number of words written at that point still remained low. What was important to me was the progress I made in the construction of ideas, themes, and connections; a process which requires a huge plain wall and an incredible number of different shaped post-its. A masterpiece in its own right. Realising at some point, that most of my neon-coloured post-its were purchased in a nearby town called Nyon, was just the cherry on the cake. No way to imagine what Nietzsche would have done had he had such a variety of post-its available. Again no comparison intended. Anyway, there were many highlights during my stay but I consider it pointless to put a number on experiences that are so high in value.
01 June - 17 Aug 2017
When I arrived to Trélex in early June, Nina’s youngest son quickly announced that there was an abundance of hedgehogs in the area. I commented that this was wonderful news as I would be thrilled to see my first wild hedgehog. Alexander immediately inquired about how long I would be staying, and when I told him I would be in Trélex until the end of August, he thoughtfully replied that there would be a high chance of a hedgehog sighting. Alexander then asked for a push on the rope swing hanging from the tall pines, and my residency at Trelex was off to a fresh start!
Nina’s family is a beautiful family, and while every member of this clan understands that artists have come to Trélex to work on projects, each family member also has a wonderful way of sharing their peculiar inquisitiveness, kindness, and generosity. Getting to know Nina’s family, Talisker included, is an incredible privilege of this residency.
Towns, villages, mountains, Mont Blanc, clouds, streams, Lac Léman, woods, forests, farm fields, and livestock mark the landscape, and I could not have wanted to experience anything more on my daily walks. It is a picturesque place, and it is a place where folks who aren’t living off the land are certainly living with the land. All these motifs were a perfect complement to my ever-developing painting and drawing practice—traces of childhood, animals, and the angelic made my time magic.