The Third Something

046 / Residency

Artists residencies are a great way to find focus - but you don’t have to wait to be invited to one!

A painting of a misty scene by Adam Westbrook

A few weeks ago Nathalie Sejean, a fellow journeyman who I have long been inspired by, sent out a letter encouraging artists to make a residency.

Yes. MAKE. Not do. Not attend. MAKE it. 2019 has been a year of many things and one of them was finally understanding that the best way to complete projects is to claim to the Universe that you are going to take time to create. And then do it.

Well, dear reader, I’m writing this from a small Airbnb in Cambridge, England where I’ve been on my own personal residency, that I have made just for myself.

(In fact, I’m actually writing this bit from one of the studies at Trinity College where my friend Guy has just begun a fellowship. It’s a lovely oak panelled office and outside I can hear bells pealing.)

Whereas on a normal day I manage about 90 minutes of writing/drawing in the morning (on a good day!), this week I have been able to indulge, noodling and doodling away for hours. In the afternoons I’ve been taking long walks, meandering in bookstores, reading graphic novels, before meeting up with good friends who, fortuitously, have all recently moved here.

I’m cheating a little bit, in that residencies usually are not spent in solitude - but hey, who says there are any rules?

It also helps, as I understand it, to go to a residency with a project in mind. Well, I’ve come with the opposite intention. Outside of my video commissions, I do not have a creative project on the boil at the moment.

I usually find this frustrating but, thinking in terms of systems instead of goals (#45), I am trying to be at peace with this uncertainty, instead focusing on habits.

What I like about Nathalie’s idea is the fact that you don’t have to wait to be invited to an artist residency, or to find one that will have you. You can make your own, and you don’t have to be a loner like me about it - you can invite your own fellow journeymen to join you and surround yourself with friends and colleagues you find inspiring.

My week hasn’t been perfect - it took me quite a long time to get into the flow and to leave the problems of home behind and, because I have had no specific outcomes, I didn’t achieve anything concrete - but I absolutely intend on doing this again in 2020.

In a year when I haven’t made a ‘thing’ outside of my day job, it has been a moment to touch my creativity on the shoulder and say ‘I’m still here and you still matter.’

Until another Sunday soon,

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