Going to a new country can be frightening, because you don’t know where the unexpected can bring you. In my situation, it was not such a big change, for I traveled to a European country to do an artist residency for one month, in Bremen, Germany.
I had some knowledge of other cities in Germany, but not of Bremen. However, I was not going there as a tourist, this was a new adventure, self-driven and self-directed. The idea was to fully focus on my artistic practice, to create a body of work that was questioned and confronted by the eyes of different tutors and other artists, like minded and not. There would be no typical distractions that university tends to have (social, other courses, etc!).
What came out of this germanic month was much more than what I had imagined. Yes, the residency did provide me with a couple of artist studio and gallery visits, museum openings and critics around my work, however I met the most incredible people by my own. The key, I learned, is putting yourself out there, going to places, meeting people, being interested in what they say and promoting (to a certain extent) what you do, believing in what you have, who you are and what you bring to the table. Be prepared for your old thoughts to break and accept new ones, rebuild yourself.
This might sound like the typical ‘You can do it’ speech, but it is not a joke.
I found myself destabilised because I’m used to working with large metallic installations, and the studio the residency had provided me was quite small and had no infrastructure, at least not like I am used to working in. So I decided to focus on ideas I had had in the past but could not get a hold of, and using this time as a thought bubble. I found myself experimenting with eggs and egg yolks. How different from my normal artistic practice, but how enlightening. I knew the style I was making in Edinburgh, I knew it worked and works. So this time, woking with little, fragile organic round shapes was a huge change form my usual metallic, stale, large, heavy structures. And the result was refreshing, and mind opening. To put myself in a challenging situation, not knowing where it is going and where it will lead me was the perfect residency challenge I could hope for.
This residency also changed the way I approach my work. I am more focused and can get into greater depth with my subjects. This is something I will bring with me into my further/future artistic studies.