From Henry Byrne

01 Nov - 30 Nov 2016

I was booked to stay in Trelex for the month of November. Prier to my residency I had been working towards commissioned portraits and (primarily) ‘selling’ exhibitions. So I was looking forward to some headspace and time to try out my newer ideas by testing old ones. 

Trelex is a beautiful place set 3 miles north of Lac Lamen. The village is perched north of the roman town of Nyon in which a major highway passes connecting Geneva with the rest of Switzerland. The program is situated in a beautiful House with a large garden and Nina’s wonderful family. The studio is on the top floor of the three story house. From there looking north the forests rises to the foothills of the Alpes. It’s very quite in the house and  the village is very still. I had been anxious about the lack of activity and distraction However I found that the still ness enabled my to hear my ideas clearer and for the better ones to be louder. 

I drove from London which was great to have a car there tho Nina offers her car to residence to get around. It enabled more flexibility as I enjoyed going of in to the mountain for hours. I'd split the month up as follows; The first two weeks working on the portraits brought from the UK and the final two weeks working towards a show. Having no distractions enabled my productivity shot up. I painted so quickly and confidently. The big difference compared to my studio in the uk was from 6 pm onwards (this is the time I normally stop painting in London). In Trelex there are no social requirements/options so I continued to paint getting immersed in the work. It reminded me of when I was younger, when I first discovered art and how it relived me from the cronic ‘boredom’ of feeling unfulfilled. Portrait commissions can some times feel methodical the repetitive. The lack of distraction focused the mind and brought back fun and excitement of creating things. 

After completing my allotted paintings I begun playing with my light boxes (out side of portraits I create light boxes that mimic the atmospheres of significant areas) I wanted to make a piece of work that was sight specific. I had hoped/ expected mist over the lake and valley but it never fully transpired. The nights were drawing in quickly and the sun sets where getting slower and slower. Rich colours oranges and violets would transform the landscape highlighted by the residual mist of the lake. This was cemented on a train back from Nyon to Trelex at 5.15pm just as the sun was setting. The sky was violet and pink but there was a thin strip of yellow between the sky and the foothills.  As the train moved up the mountain I saw dog walkers standing still looking at the sun setting. Looking away from the view I noticed on the train all the Swiss staring at the sun set. I thought they must have seen it a thousand times but were still struck by it. In tern I was struck by there similar expression of carm and wonder. They were united in there expression and as a group. I wanted to show the thing that provoked this communal wonder. I then new what I wanted to make my work around this. 


Using a LED strip light I started to rap pre bought coloured filters. I started combining different filters to tailor the different colours of the horizon. I wanted to make the strip of light that was so stunning between the clouds and the hills.

In the studios there are dividing walls. I thought it would be fun to use them as a light box to recreate the horizon. I experimented with a cardboard box getting the shape and colours right.  I took one of the panel off the dividing wall and set up the light inside. I did not want the source of the light to be seen and this would conseal the strip light. 

I then traced and cut the skyline into the board and screwed it back to the wall. Paper would be put over the cut horizon, to allow the light to be defused. The work was realised when Nina thought the reflection in the mirrow would mimic the sky line. This in my opinion became the work. The reflected strip of light in the glass mimicking the mountains it was inspired by. 

I cannot recommend the residency enough. Nina’s inputs was so useful It really reminded me that there are no rules and anything is possible it art. As the residency is run by artists for artists it realises the importance of time and personal development. Thank you very much for the most enlightening experience. 

Henry Byrne website