From Abi Box

12.01.2015 - 03.02.2015

Residency Garden Snowed Under
Residency Garden Snowed Under

On 12 January I arrived at Geneva airport with a suitcase full of more paint 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 the 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.

Abigail Box in the Trélex studio making paintings
Abi in the Trelex studio making paintings

The set up is a self contained live in work space 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.

Local shop

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 company, 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.

Painting detail, Abigail Box
Painting detail, Abi Box

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.

Rebecca Molloy on bike toward forest
Rebecca Molloy on the way to the forest

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 a 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 view over Nyon and Lake Geneva. 

Snowshoeing in St.Cergue
Snowshoeing in St.Cergue with Becca and Fanny

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 forget) but it also goes into much more detail and has links to extra bits of information etc…  12 Jan (day one)  > >

Abi’s Facebook Page

Facebook album

Flickr album

From Rebecca Molloy

12.01.2015 - 03.02.2015

I arrived to the residency with artist Abigail Box in the middle of January and within a couple of days we had completely settled into our life in Trelex and had begun making our new work.

To explain briefly about my practice, I am a painter interested in mostly the body and the ‘weird’, the outcome is largely installations that combine collage, painting, objects and film. I came to the residency with the intention of being quite experimental and open minded about what I would make but there were two parameters that I set myself in order to start a new body of work.  Firstly, I wanted to make work that would be easily transportable and so decided quite early on that I would make mostly videos and secondly I wanted to explore ways of making paintings without actually using any paint. To my delight both Abi and Nina were excited and stimulated by these ideas which made my time on the residency very productive and enjoyable.

‘Just Sit Down and Let the Colours Go in Your Eyes’ 1 minute video, 2015

Just Sit Down and Let the Colours Go in Your Eyes’ was my first finalised piece of work from the residency.  I wanted to move away from a more abstracted way of working and instead make the content more apparent and so began to experiment with the use of an isolated eye on an ipad and iphone, which existed within a mini installation of surfaces, textures and sensations. Within the installation there is a tension between the cutting of string, eyeballs and sound and is influenced by the idea of leading the viewer which is often used by film makers.

‘Stop Licking my Cornflakes’  1 minute video, 2015

In terms of thinking about painting without painting, I also made a series of videos that involved the use of foods. This included going into the Trelex Woods with a canister of squirty cream and also using chocolate milk and vegetables as a replacement for paint within compositions. There was a focus on the lusciousness of food, it’s colour and textures and it was an important process to think about painting and it’s materiality within a wider sense.

‘Council Pop’ 12 second video, 2015

During our second week of the residency we held a coffee morning, to invite local residents of Trelex amongst others to see our works in progress.  The attendees were mostly non artists, and it was a challenge to try and explain our ideas behind our practices, particularly when thinking about work that had squirty cream as a dominant feature. It was challenging but I also really appreciated being able to speak about my work and to try and answer as coherently as possible, such questions as ‘but how is that art?’ I hope that I managed to give some credence to my work and show that I am genuinely an artist that is very much interested in painting… even when there is not a brush in sight.

Studio Shot, Trelex Residency, 2015

Myself, Nina and Abi spent a large amount of time in the studio, working alongside one another, with regular intervals of tea, chocolate and discussions. These pauses were a massively important part of the residency. I felt I was really able to appreciate both Nina and Abi’s practice as I began to gain insight into their motivations and interests. Our conversations bounced wildly between art, science, philosophy and life itself and I particularly enjoyed that however big the detours were, the conversations often came back to ideas around painting.

Whilst spending a large amount of time within the studio, we also ventured out for bike rides, walks, trips to Nyon and Geneva.  We were introduced to some of the people within Nina’s network of contemporary artists, collectors and gallerists which was also a wonderful part of the experience on the residency.

Walking up Fruiters de Nyon, from St Cirgue, 2015

Abi Box in the Snow, 2015

Our last Sunday was spent snow shoeing from St Cergue to the top of Fruitiers de Nyon and for me was one of the highlights of our stay. We trekked for  7kms through feet and feet of snow and as an English person who’s only seen small amounts of snow fall, I was as excited as a child. There was a painterlyness to the landscape as everything was covered with white mounds and Santa Claus was mentioned frequently. Our final few hours were spent in St Cergue drinking beers and so felt like an appropriate way to mark the beginning of the end of the residency.

Celebrating 3 years of residents

As the third anniversary of the residency approaches, I have tried to celebrate the artists who have passed through The Trelex Residency with a page that gathers all their websites in one place. Here is what it looks like for now. Not everyone who has come has a web page and I have yet to meet an artist who feels that their website is entirely representative of their practice. Mostly we sigh: 'Oh, my website needs updating...'. But the intention of this page is also a quick link to contacts for everyone so that the exchange, discussion and collaboration that is so central to the Trelex Residencies can stay alive.

Follow Nina Rodin-Artist's board Trelex Residents on Pinterest.