This summer I had the extraordinary chance to do an artist residency in the south of France. In the Pyrenées mountains just near the Spanish border. Florence Peake was our guide. Peake is known for her visceral, somatic body movement, installations and paintings. We did a lot floor work, where I learned grounding techniques for the first time. I have a background in dance, so this was really perfect for me. A lot of our exercises invovled touch, which I think was really important after Covid, and not really touching people anymore. Humans need touch, it’s very important.
Camp is just like summer camp. The residencies that they offer are mostly to do with sound, music, and experimental field recording. They have a vegitarian cook, everyone has their own room and the showers are collective but private. The best part is the esquisite cadre, nature, pure air, simplicity, and a return to source. The town was built around several mineral water sources. Going to do “The Cure” in France is very well known, especially for older people. Social Security pays if you do it for 3 weeks (or a month, I can’t remember). You get spa treatments (with mud for example), mineral water bathing and massages. Camp click here to check out their program
One of the residents was inspired by these fountains that were set up almost like altars. She was intrigued by the contrast of an altar for making offerings and this one for receiving. I hope she does more work with the ideas she had during our stay. Her name is Jennifer Mawby.
What I was interested in most in doing an artist residency was connection with other artists. Hungry for the kind of conversations that are catalyst, I wanted feedback, to discuss and some accountability for my projects. The more people I tell about what I want to do, the more it motivates me to action. I got very useful feedback and likewise energy and a ton of ideas.
Certain residencies can help an artist’s visibilty. Sometimes curators and people from institutions come to visit to see what the artists are creating. So, I will be looking to do a least one residency every year from now on.
The last days of our residency we had the opportunity to work with the group or give a presentation. Annie Riga had us work with the clay to make a talisman that we would sacrifice to the river the next day.
At the river, a butterfly decided to bless me for about 20 minutes. Maybe she was attracted by my tattoo! My imagination was on fire because the butterfly is such an important symbol in my work. Something about which I’ve written many things about, and an image that comes up in my work often.
Another one of our exercises with Florence Peake was to move in space with sticks. This reminded me of my improv acting classes, but I had never done this in a group with movement and performance. It’s true that I usually choreograph my performances like this, but this time I was following instructions, or “scores” set up by the instructor. It was fun and pushed me outside of how I normally move.
A few of us got up super early one morning to leave at 7am to hike to almost the top of the mountain, where there was a gorgeous waterfall. It was quite the workout and we had the mountain all to ourselves. As we came back down there were a ton of people heading up. Therefore, going early is a very good idea!
Our group included people from Italy, Canada, Greece, Ireland, England, Scotland, America and France. Quite a variety of locations! No two people from the same place. The last night we all packed into two cars and drove, then hiked to the top of a mountain to see the sunset. This photo is of all the artists and the team who facilitate.
Photos by myself and my fellow resident artists.