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I’ve been following the fantastic residencies, workshops and programmes of Women’s Studio Workshop online for several years, and seem many artists I admire, including Emily Speed, undertake residencies with exciting results, so I really wanted to visit there while in New York.

Women’s Studio Workshop is based in Rosendale, in upstate New York. Without a car the only way to get there is by coach, about 2 hours from Port Authority Bus Terminal. It’s a really pleasant ride through many small towns, and I loved looking at the varying type of architecture which is so different to the UK.

The whole trip was very nostalgic as the last time I was at Port Authority Bus Terminal and in upstate New York was the summer of 2001 when I was an Arts and Crafts teacher at a Summer Camp in upstate New York. It was a great summer in the outdoors, exploring, visiting new places and the day reminded me of many happy memories.

Reminiscing aside, the WSW (as I will call it from now on) has an excellent location within Rosendale which is quiet, peaceful and within the centre of many walking trails. I walked from the bus stop (although they were kindly offered to collect and drive me) to their building through the wood there and back which was a delight after all the New York ‘city energy’ in me.

Erin Zona, their director met me and showed me around their amazing facilities and residency programme. In the last 12 months, they had completed an extension and refurbishment which has taken several years in total from start to finish. The making processes, and level of equipment are incredibly impressive – intaglio, relief, paper, bookmaking, screen printing, as well as digital and ceramic workshops. They also have beautiful new gallery spaces and project spaces to host exhibitions of artists in residence and those visiting for education and events.

On the day I visited education programmes were in full flow. Local high school students were working with resident artists in the printmaking and papermaking workshops. From a quick look, the work was at a very high level for teenagers. It is such a great experience for the local students interested in art to have close access to artists, individual techniques and such high-quality printmaking facilities. It must impact them immeasurably during their choices during school and after.

The WSW run a rolling programme for interns where they do a national call out to apply. All interns receive accommodation and a fee.

Erin and I discussed the ways in which they finance their residency programmes and the facilities themselves. They run a series of fundraising initiatives every year, and sales of artist books made at WSW are very important. Erin showed me their archive of artist books and talked about how they work hard for their artist books to be purchased in gallery collections.

Residency programmes run annually with opportunities always notified on their website. They currently run Artist Book residencies, Artist in Education residencies, Parent residencies and a variety of studio and printmaking residencies with a variety of level of funding. You can find more details of their residencies here – https://wsworkshop.org/

It was also useful to talk to Erin about the logistics of how they run their residency, as we are currently in the process of planning for our own international residency programme at Rogue Artist Studios and Project Space. We are at the initial stages but hope to be up and running within the next year or so.

Thanks to WSW for welcoming and letting me see their incredible community and facilities. It was a very inspiring day and gave me much to think about in terms of my own work and our residency programme as it begins.