Project 2: Artist Residencies

This was her job, but it wasn’t her life. Her life was out there, down by the river, in that garden where the soil was alive with worms and ants and those tiny coral beetles that looked like ocean creatures. Where the sun came out to turn her shoulders red. Where the fists of white blossom punched their scent into the air and sent shivers of petals tumbling to the compost heaps.  

(Lucy Coombs, “What she is made of”, Artist’s Residency Project)

Community Learning Ambassadors: Sorcha Sheehy Williams and Janani Suri

Community Gardens: Riverside Community Garden & St Peter’s Community Garden

Short Description of Project:

In an allotted amount of time, perhaps a month, the garden would provide a ‘residency’ for a local artist. In exchange, the artist would contribute to work in the garden, and at the end of the residency produce a piece. The garden will provide the artist with a space where the artist can work undisturbed for an amount of time. The artist could be anyone, from a local student with an interest in art and gardens, to someone more well-known and established in their field. The work the artist produces will be considered to be at least influenced, if not directly about, their time spent in the garden. At Riverside Community Garden any discipline will be considered, be it poetry, sculpture, painting, etc. The piece for the first residency in Peter’s will be a mural on one of the outdoor walls. The artist would also have the opportunity to hold an art therapy workshop at St Peter’s.

Goals:

  1. It would connect members of the community with the gardens who might not otherwise done so.
  2. The residency and the work produced by the artist might achieve some publicity for the garden.
  3. It will probe the connection between art, community and nature, with the common link being the way in which we draw on and interact with the resources around us in a creative way.

Benefit to the Community Gardens:

  • If the piece is such that it could remain in the garden after the residency it would make garden more beautiful.
  • It would connect with more members of the community, including the wider artistic community
  • It would promote the garden

Benefit to the Community Learning Ambassadors:

  • How to write up an artist residency programme/proposal
  • How to promote the advertisement
  • How to select a suitable artist
  • How to accommodate multiple, potentially conflicting parties’ needs
  • Learn about how sustainability as a concept can link the creative arts, community and gardening
  • How the importance of natural environments can be communicated in a different way to ‘scientific’ or ‘development/economy-oriented’ language.

Outcomes:

The writer’s residency at Riverside Community Garden was a huge success and resulted in a small booklet of beautiful writing inspired by the garden (see top of page for link).

Though a mural artist wasn’t found within the time constraints of the programme, Janani did find an artist to join Global Gardens for a future residency!