5th June - 29th June
I had been looking forward to coming to Trelex for a long time. I have been to Switzerland before, a long time ago in the 1970's when I bicycled from Manchester to Basel, but the country hadn't really created a lasting impression, in the way that France or Spain had. I was intrigued to see what my impressions would be this time round, forty odd years later, when presumably both me and Switzerland had changed a fair bit.
I was also fascinated by the thinking behind the residency. To be open to anyone willing to commit the time, with no selection process or hefty fees is refreshing, in what seems like a world increasingly dominated by money, results and accountability.
I mostly paint in oils and cold wax but these take an age to dry and so aren't really suitable for residencies where transporting them home would be a problem. I used the opportunity to try out oil bars (Winsor and Newton, now sadly discontinued). These proved brilliant - they dried well enough to transport in a couple of weeks as long as I used them fairly thinly, and acted like my oil/cold wax. I also did quite a few charcoal drawings.
As several other residents have said - it is the gift of having time and space that is the main benefit of any residency. Nina has created a unique space and is amazingly generous with her time, advice and materials. As always for me, one of the main values of a residency is meeting other artists. I was particularly lucky in getting to meet Julie, Min, Caroline and Sallie. Challenging yourself to go to another country and spend time with strangers is never an easy thing, but meeting such great people made it an absolute delight.
I found Switzerland didn't give up her secrets easily. I am naturally drawn to wild, western, edge places, like the west coast of Ireland and Wales, so landlocked Switzerland was a very different experience for me. Its bizarre rules and seemingly conformist residents initially seemed out of kilter to what i was used to, but slowly I came to appreciate the well signed walking trails, the trains that ran on time and the super polite people. Spending six and a half hours in A&E to get antibiotics for a tic bite restored my faith that every system wasn't quite so perfect and efficient!
I was happy with the work I did while at Trelex; the Jura mountains and the lake will hopefully provide enough inspiration for much work in the future. So many images and feelings still occasionally flash into my head - the clouds scudding over the mountains, the little train winding its way up to the top of the Jura, getting caught in a spectacularly loud thunderstorm high up in the mountains, sitting outside the church in Trelex in the evening looking at the Alps, yoga on the lawn….Ah, I'm already feeling quite nostalgic!
Thanks Nina for making it possible.