NEA artists Irina Korotkow and Mervyn Beamish recently returned from the International Artists Residency in Krakow, Poland.
Q: WHAT WAS THE RESIDENCY?
A: It was by invitation only to 12 international artists to live, exhibit and work together at the Hotel Leopolis (leopolis.com.pl) in Krakow. The idea was to share experiences, techniques and exhibit our works. It included Polish, Korean, Americans, Australians and Indian artists.
Q: HOW WERE YOU SELECTED TO BE INVITED
A: Primarily through social media. My (Mervyn) work caught the eye of New York based international art currator, Basha Maryanska, who invited me to exhibit in one of her exhibitions. Irina and I went to US for the exhibition where Basha also became interested in her work. This was about 5 years ago and we have struck up a close friendship with Basha and a number of other artists. We get invites to show and residencies two or three times a year, but can't accept all of them.
Q: WHY NOT
A: Ha! Time and money, I'm a pensioner so time is not so much a problem, but Irena is a nurse so it is for her.
Q: WHAT ARE THE COSTS
A: This can vary dramatically. There is the return airfare to the location, for both of us and accommodation cost. Basha has a knack of doing great accommodation deals for the group. Some residencies are sponsored by organisations such as the European Union. There is also profit from sales at the exhibition. We have made sales at every residence we've been to, which helps with the costs.
Q: WHAT WAS THE AVERAGE DAY'S PROGRAM
A: Fairly loose and primarily up to the individual. Breakfast included a group planning meeting. Generally the morning was taken up with visiting the old market town of Krakow. Krakow was one of the few cities in Poland not bombed in WWII and, indeed, never destroyed in war, so the old buildings an churches are old, really old. There are numerous churches, museums, art galleries, castles and a salt mine under the city that dates back pre-Roman.
This mine is no longer active, but so large it contains a night club, health spars and I think a hotel and concert venue .... I'll check that out next time (the group has been invited back). Local beer is wonderful and plenty, Polish vodka will knock your socks off (60% proof).
After lunch, which was generally taken under canvas in the central square, we'd come back to work at the hotel using their conference hall as a communal studio.
Each artist is expected to give a minimum 30 minute talk and 'slide show' presentation on their work, influences and history. Evening meal was a group event which generally was followed by more work or whatever.
We were also visited by local artists and invited into their studios, etc.
Q: IS THERE GOING TO BE AN AUSTRALIAN EVENT?
A: We have talked about the possibility of holding an event at North East Artisans, but interest was mediocre on both sides. There is a possibility of one in Melbourne. We will see. The general response from the group was good, but the belief that our beasties are all out to kill people, though a joke to us, to many overseas a true fear. We assured them that snakes are not particularly interested in biting people, spiders are of little concern other than in outdoor dunnies (few knew what a dunnie was in any case) and also suggested that they take any tales of terror kangaroos by Australians with a grain of salt.
Q: FUTURE PLANS FOR THE GROUP.
A: Next year the group will meet in USA and Italy with an exhibition in Paris. Doubt if we can afford to go to either. There was a suggestion of one in Thailand, and vague mention of China. They did try for Spain, but the Spanish hotels are a little over artists!
Q: HOW CAN ARTISTS GET INVOLVED IN GROUPS LIKE THIS
A: Social media, keep an eye on events, publish your work and friend other artists. Don't be afraid to put the word out that you are interested. With us it just popped out of the blue.
An Occasional Blog by Mervyn Beamish, October 2018
You can read Mervyn's blog on a previous residency here http://www.northeastartisans.org/news/the-occasional-blogger-merv-writing-on-his-artists-residency-in-poland
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