For the past few weeks I have been focusing on writing the person specification for the upcoming residency in Tampere, Finland that is taking longer to pull together than expected. To research how to structure the residency call out I have been looking at the KULES and Wysing Arts Centre application process. When I write I do tend to get the order of things the wrong way round and over simplify the text. Having another person look at it has helped to make sure that I’m not missing anything important out of the content and that the specifications gets the right person for the opportunity. The most expensive part of this residency is the travel costs as there are no direct flights to Tampere although there are direct links to Helsinki. When I travel with my family in July we will depart from London Heathrow, which is around £500 pound cheaper to fly from. I am aware that this may not be suitable for the other resident artists’ and co-travellers but it is certainly something to consider not only for the reduction in cost but also getting the chance to see Helsinki. When people think of Finland the capital city is often thought of although Tampere has so much to offer. I feel well known and unknown residency locations are equally important to explore, have new experiences and to share artistic practice, not all artists live in the capital cities we are everywhere!

Developing working relationships with all the different people involved in the project is quite a juggling act although so important to the workings of it. We all need to be clear on what we all want from this research process and develop the best way to go about it. The visiting Finnish artist Saara Sillanpaa has two young children and I feel it is really important for them to feel welcome with a space of their own to create. On my previous visits to Islington Mill I have noticed some storage sheds in the yard and I have been thinking that one of these could make a really interesting space to explore. The shed is also located next to the B&B where the family will be staying which would offer a break out space for the children. How can we design a space together and how could they document their daily experiences? What can be learnt from these evaluations? Could there be potential to connect with the local school, which is just over the road from the studios? Could I use the postcard concept to get to know the children and start designing a studio space for them before they arrive? Lots of questions, thinking and research to do…



It has taken me a while to be able to write about this last event I hosted at the University of Salford, Overcoming barriers to artists’ residencies as I am so critical of my own performance and a little disappointed with the final turnout. Although the event was sold out I would say at least half didn’t actually show. I know you are always meant to overbook which I did take into account the people who actually let me know that they weren’t coming but clearly that wasn’t enough. This threw me for the entire event and I am so pleased that I filmed it as more people have viewed the talks online than who actually came. However the people that made the effort to come seemed to get a lot from it and maybe gave people a chance to talk more with the artists’. The event was for everyone and myself to understand more about the residency experiences of Jason Wilsher-Mills, Helen Knowles and Pool Arts. Working with Jason I had not taken into account his access costs as originally I applied for funding in 2015 at which point I hadn’t finalised the programme. This is a chance to ask Jason for the ideal, full cost of what his access needs are. I gained more insight into my own work preparing for this talk and can see how my practice is really changing. I was surprised that people didn’t ask me questions about the We Are Resident upcoming residency opportunity in Finland this was such a good chance to talk with me about it, or maybe I just covered everything in my presentation?

To watch the artists’ talks and end panel discussion from the event: Overcoming boundaries to artists’ residencies please like + view We Are Resident Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/weareresident/?ref=bookmarks


To continue my research thread into what are the barriers to taking part in an artist residency the most common responses on the postcards where confidence, lack of experience, and funding. As part of my support from the University of Salford I will be giving a day of teaching and I feel a workshop around residencies with the students could help with experience and confidence to create there own. Although there are residency opportunities offered in the second and third year I feel a session where we quickly create an on-site residency could be fun and install confidence to make their own structures. I take it for granted my confidence in applying for things which comes from really wanting that opportunity for whatever reason that may be this doesn’t mean that I will get it but putting my thoughts and ideas into words I find a creative process in itself. Having the postcards at the end of the event to stimulate the discussion worked well especially for people who did not want to talk face to face. However being on the panel I felt really under pressure to know all the answers when I am really only at the beginning of my research.

Thinking About Doing

The event has got me thinking about the questions I found difficult to answer such as how children are involved in the residency experience. This is an area I will be looking into more prior and during the residency when the Finnish artist comes later this year. What do ‘access’ costs really cover and who are they for? Could this definition be expanded further? I have to remember that I am an artist researcher and that the events where a way of gathering responses in a divergent way that will inform the programme. Reflecting on the feedback I have had from the postcards the most noted was MONEY and I have raised the artist fee in response to this. Concerns around taking time off work and loss of earnings I have reflected on and thought that offering a shorter stay could help open up the opportunity to artists who have another job. FAMILY was another popular barrier and it is clear that the whole group not just the artist will need to have creative activities available to them during their stay.

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Post research event at Manchester Art Gallery in November I have been crystal clear with the headline in my upcoming artist talk poster; Overcoming barriers to artists’ residencies. The University of Salford have been supporting me with providing a venue, organising the event and marketing. What I have learnt from advertising my previous event is not to get caught up in the creative and to simply communicate what it is about. Although not as many artists’ attended my last event the most surprising finding was how potentially anyone could benefit from an artist residency experience. Another lesson learnt was to use an online booking system to gage how many people will attend and for this I have used eventbrite, which is really easy to use. So far bookings have been steady with 35 in the first week my aim is for 60 although up to 90 people can be seated at the Old Fire Station venue. I had my first Skype meeting with Susan Jones, which I really needed to reflect on where I am at with my project timeline and she suggested a chair for the event. This would really take the pressure off me to focus on meeting the artists’ and my own presentation. This week I met with Paul Herrmann director of Redeye, the photography network (http://www.redeye.org.uk) who was recommended to me as a suitable chair and it was really refreshing to talk with him about artist residencies. He clearly has an interest in this area and spoke about developing a residency with Redeye with probing questions about my research. Again having another thinker around the subject and foreseeing questions that the audience may have is pushing the content of the event programme. To continue my research thread into the barriers that stop people taking part in an artist residency I intend to ask the audience to write down there responses and use these to open up a discussion at the end.

I am really looking forward to hearing the invited artists talk about their residency experiences and selected people who I think are overcoming boundaries through the work they are making. The first artist I invited was Helen Knowles and read her Santa Fe residency report here: http://www.culturalreproducers.org/2013/12/residency-report-helen-knowles-at-santa.html. After researching Knowles work more and finding out about her curatorial practice I was really inspired by how she is creating an intervention in the art market with the Birthrites collection which is located at the University of Salford (http://birthritescollection.org.uk). Jason Wilshire-Mills work came to my attention when I recently carried out a research trip to London and met with Shape Arts (http://www.bluejaywaydigitalarts.co.uk). I visited Shape gallery space in Westfield (https://www.shapearts.org.uk) and got to see the group show of work produced at the Doha, Qatar residency where I got to see Jason’s large scale self-portrait painting titled ‘Portrait of a Western Gentlemen’ which really needs to be seen first hand to appreciate the finer details that was produced on an iPad. I am a member of Pool Arts and worked with them as an independent artist/curator who co-create large scale projects. They are the only artist group I have been involved with who chair there meetings in a democratic way with no egos involved or single dominant voice. Pool Arts run the SHED based in Levenshulme that is used as a gallery/residency space on an allotment where the artist and the local community come together (http://poolarts.org). If you want to find out more about the artists’ work then you better book your FREE place at the event, Overcoming boundaries to artists’ residencies: https://weareresident.eventbrite.co.uk