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This is the final week for applications for the residency in Finland and I am excited to see people’s work, also a little anxious to see if this is of interest to the artist community. I have to remind myself that this is a small opportunity in a sea of residencies out there but I am hoping that this will catch the eye of someone who will make the most of it. Today I booked our travel to Helsinki and I am looking forward to re-visiting Tampere and the Takahuhti art centre with my husband and now 2-year-old child. How will my son Cassius react to being in this new place again, will he have any memories of being here once before? I have started conversations with Finnish artists’ Ritvamarja and Varpu about my return to Tampere in July and how we could possibly work together to make the UK artist welcome on their arrival. I have been reading this useful Family Arts Standards guide of how to provide good family experiences and have found that it is really important for them to have a warm welcome with activities that the group can take part in together. Although when we went to Finland we where happy to make our own way to our destination and I created my own plan of what I wanted to do, however Cassius was only 6 months old then and required limited activity. During my residency at Takahuhti I performed at an event and presented an artist talk in my studio where I naturally connected with the local artists in my own time, although I am aware that my outgoing nature helped initiate those interactions. However I am aware that other people may want a different way of carrying out there residency and I want to support that the best I can.

I have been scamping some quick illustrations of ideas using the postcard format as a way of offering choices of activities to the visiting artist to select from. I am enjoying the handmade quality of them, which reminds me off the front cover of the Takahuhti residency folder. What if all the residency literature was hand written? So often text is typed and printed from a computer, to be honest I rarely read through lots of copy and prefer quick guides or picture menus. I am enjoying thinking creatively about how to visually communicate with a family aside from the administrative part of managing a project like this which is very time consuming and challenging for me to structure the written elements. I have felt incredibly well supported through all of this by my mentor Susan Jones and I really look forward to our Skype chats about the development of the residency. Working closely with a mentor I can see how important it is to have an outside critical perspective particularly from someone who has such a wealth of experience but most importantly for me Susan always talks to me in a supportive and nurturing manner. I am also very grateful for the support of Islington Mill, who will kindly provide the accommodation for the visiting Finnish artist family and the opportunity to experience living amongst the vibrant artist community. I met with the Mill’s director Maurice Carlin to confirm dates and discuss ways of using the resources in and around the studios such as the sheds in the courtyard, making a connection with St Philips the local school just over the road.

The final piece of the residency puzzle is who will be the UK artist visiting Finland? I will find this out very soon, if you are interested please follow the link below and apply the deadline is 12 noon 2nd May 2016.