two week residency 

May 2016

In January 2016, I applied for the Bath Spa Porthleven Prize and was lucky enough to get selected for the site visit at the end of February. This effected my practise considerably as it allowed me to take a step away from studio work and disengage resulting in a refreshed and renewing of my work. This was then furthered by the opportunity I was given of to return to Porthleven alongside four other incredible artists to do the two week residency. 

The experience was amazing and I have learnt so much, both from my peers, tutors I hadn't come into contact with yet and myself. Being with three third years and a PhD student was incredibly daunting however once I was encouraged that I was chosen for a reason and embraced the idea of not knowing and drifitng along I managed to get the most out of the experience. I used the residency very differently to the others, who produced final pieces down there, I on the other hand, used the two weeks as a gathering resource and spent my whole time drawing, photographing, recording and gathering. 

The experience has taught me how to practically embrace the stage of 'not knowing' and not just wish it was over. It has taught me alot about myself in my practise, it has reaffirmed ideas that were floating around before the first site visit. Ideas such as responding to natural forms being what actually interests me and is what I am passionate about. Walking, drawing, responding directly, mapping, tracing, linking, zooming in; these are all aspects of the work that I produced during the two week residency and will be carrying into my second year. 

The residency has set me up really well for second year, allowing me the space to almost start fresh and see what could come out of it. Responding specifically to a place was both a challeneg and yet so rewarding. Being immersed in Porthleven at times could be claustrophobic as it was so small, yet we all came to know every nook and cranny of the place and to some extent felt a real sense of belonging. 

Collaboration was another huge part of this residency. Unlike in previous years where lecturers put a real empahsis on the need for collaboration, this year they left it to its own devices. This actually resulted in a natural linking of ideas and strands of our practises, we ended up all helping each other with pieces of work which would not have been possible without all five of us. It has offered me the opportunity to get to know four incredible artists who all have such diverse ways of working and have fed into my own practise and pushed me to create ambitious work and ideas.  


The links that I have made with my fellow artists and lecturers Bob Fearns and Angela Cockayne have been, and I'm sure will continue to be, invaluable.  The residency culminated in an exhibition at Walcot Chapel in Bath in January 2017 through which I sold my first painting. 

Show More

© 2019 Holly Nicholls