To describe the Trélex Residency as unlike any artist residency feels like pointing out how deliciously warm the sun is after a long winter. But that’s exactly what it was like to spend a month in the countryside of the Swiss, French borderland.
Because I grew up in a woodland area in a farm town I tend to gravitate towards finding peace and focus working in natural surroundings. Instead of getting saddled with social guilt of going around town, I witnessed smiling faces riding horses on my morning and evening walks. While mostly peaceful, I did have an exciting blind encounter with what sounded like two foxes within my first week. Unbeknownst to me, Switzerland has plenty of foxes!
I had promised myself to journal everyday while on the residency, but what ended up happening was more productivity than I knew I was capable of. After a couple of days of introductions, I got the nudge to just put the paint to the paper, and so I was remembering how to mix colours and draw images with a brush-something I hadn’t done for almost two-decades. As I settled in the lovely surroundings, rekindled my fire building skills, I witnessed a change in my sense of doubt and security. Doubt is really important to me in my work, and sometimes I ebb and flow between venturing out to the edges of my ideas and swirl back to the practical need to attend to subjects I have committed myself to working with-namely beauty.
On the residency it occurred to me the way I talk about my work makes it difficult to understand-but that the encounter of the work itself is considered poetic. Hearing someone else talk about my work has always been deeply valuable, and an experience I really cherish. There is a special kind of magic in gingerly sharing an idea, to have it understood as a worthwhile endeavour. There’s a modern myth of self-confidence I wrestle with, and so I had experienced a real difference in the reciprocity of attention, listening, and compassionate critique. The input from fellow residents was generative, and thoughtful. We commiserated on various experiences with academia, work, migrant living, finding ourselves every few days gathered for dinner, ridiculous hours of giggles, and hugs.
The attitude of inclusivity, the sincerity, the lack of pretence or judgement tends to be rare in the world and so the residency became a place to fully embrace life and time without performance pressures.