Trélex was my first residency and an appetising taste of creative freedom.
I arrived at the end of March this year and already I am imagining going back – and for longer next time. It was three weeks of exceptional physical and mental space, as well as stimulating discussions with the other artists. I became more engaged with my ideas, working methods and influences, and followed the threads of my art practice more rigorously than normal.
My work is based in painting and spatial relations, so the mountainous landscape and the uniquely designed Maison Binet made a strong impression. In my first week at Trélex I absorbed the space, countryside, architecture, light, colours, textures and atmosphere. I took loads of photos, creating a reference library of images. I quickly got to know my fellow residents, Crimson Boner and Min Kim. Even though she was in New Zealand, I met the residency’s formidable founder, Nina Rodin, via Skype on my first night. Nina’s commitment to the residency and its artists is truly limitless!
Every morning I made loose cumulative pencil drawings on paper, reacting to my surroundings with simple lines. I now want to merge the drawings in a moving image piece emphasising fluidity.
I started painting by responding to the fast-changing light and weather of the Jura mountains. These elements mixed with ideas I had arrived with for continuing work.
I worked in diluted acrylic with large brushstrokes, seeking a sense of fluidity and intuitive bodily movement.
Since visiting the Ugandan jungle last year I have been working on paintings of that lush landscape and it was a continuing subject for me at Trélex. Working from images of the all-encompassing vegetation of the rainforest, I began picking out individual leaves with loose brush marks to create a minimal composition.
This jungle painting with its curving composition sparked an idea that the shape of a swag (a drooping curve) could be a useful starting point for work relating to flow and performance. I had brought with me a photo of myself paragliding, images of my grandmother performing as a dancer in the 1950s, and photos of the life drawings I had made over the previous few months. These interests could be combined in the creation of swag shapes, suggesting a theatrical space where performing figures might merge with their environment. I immediately started planning pieces around this theme for a solo show I am working towards in September.
I experimented with painting a piece of cotton fabric hung loosely from the beams above the studio space. I also drew swag-shaped objects and played with fabric hung inside the back of a wooden panel to suggest a stage.
But Trélex was more than just an opportunity to reflect on my practice. The residency is a chance to become part of a global community of artists. I made connections with many other artists: Min, Crimson and Nina, as well as previous residents and those represented in the substantial library of books in the studio. Discovering their work and processes, as well as drawing encouragement from them and sharing inspiration with them, was an invaluable part of my stay at Trélex. I feel very lucky to be part of our ongoing chats.
It was hard to leave Trélex and return to normal life but I came back to London invigorated, with a lot of work in progress and a determination to commit more energy to developing my practice, as well as to continue and begin conversations with other artists. Trélex provides a precious opportunity for many types of artists and I will always be grateful to Nina for creating it and encouraging artists through this generous offering of supportive engagement and creative freedom.
See more from my time at Trélex on my Instagram