A residency that is looking for maverick artists

Premium content
Gina Fairley

Making art in a whisky distillery is far from your white-box residency. Glenfiddich is calling for visual artists to hit the Highlands, but packing a kilt is optional.
A residency that is looking for maverick artists

The landscape has been inspiring for artist Stanislava Pinchuk, who is currently in residence at the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland; Photo courtesy Stanislava Pinchuk

Australian artist Stanislava Pinchuk (aka M-I-S-O) arrived in Dufftown this month. While that might sound like a cartoon suburb from The Simpsons, this small Scottish Highland town is home to one of the most sought after artist residencies internationally.

Imagine this: A town with a population of 2,000, over 18 hours of sunlight a day, free reign on one of the world’s best whisky distilleries in the world, fellow artists from aboard for stimulating conversation, isolation to forget the day-to-day grind of home, and a dreadlocked go-to-guy-in-a-kilt whose knowledge of the area and all things ‘art related’ is like your personal Google search engine. 

The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize is currently open for applications and is inviting Australian artists to consider spending three-months in Scotland next year.

Submissions for the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Artists in residence is now open.

Recipient of the 2016 Residency Prize, Pinchuk says, ‘It’s really beautiful; the light is really magic here.’

The Residency came about as a way of pairing the maverick spirit of whisky making with the creative energy of artists. More than 100 artists have been through the program over the past 16-years.

Kilt-clad Curator of the Residency Program, Andy Fairgrieve explained: ‘It’s always been the Glenfiddich way to do things slightly different from the rest of the herd; no doubt some might have thought we were a bit crazy to invite a group of artists into our lives each summer but that’s just the way we roll in the valley of the deer!’

It is that curious blend of a maverick spirit and isolation that attracted Melbourne ex-street artist, home tattooist and minimal artist Miso to Glenfiddich.

‘Plus I am a massive, massive whisky drinker,’ she told ArtsHub.

She continued: ‘I have been on four continents this week. I am a bit spent and just want to slow down a little bit. I wanted the isolation to reconcile all my bodies of work, and to have the time and space and to think about the next step.’

Fairgrieve added: ‘Twelve weeks can, at the outset, seem a very long time, and although there is a timeless feeling to the pace of life in Dufftown, the three months can speed past so quickly.’

Is this the right residency for you?

Pinchuk’s great grandfather was a resistance fighter in the Ukraine. That spirit is clearly in her DNA - she is known for her works that map conflict zones with delicate pin-pricks on paper, from the Ukrainian civil war to the Fukushima and Chernobyl Nuclear Exclusion Zones.  

‘Being in a highly radioactive site, you can't taste it, or see it, or smell it, or feel it. That's the weird thing about Fukushima — it's dead quiet,’ she said in a recent interview.

Scotland offers a different kind of stillness. ‘The contrast is really beautiful. In one way or another, a sense of place is a huge inspiration for me.’

Her advice for applying to the Glenfiddich Residency was simple: ‘You have to really be ok with solitude.’

Want to make art in a whisky distillery? Click here

Stanislava Pinchuk in the studio; image supplied courtesy the artist

Maverick spirit blends malts with artists

Pinchuk’s studio practice has been patched across New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Berlin and Melbourne for the past few years. ‘I don’t think I have been in the same place for three months for about 10 years,’ she said.

‘There is an attraction to being on the road and just forgetting that you are an artist. I love that passive way of looking. And then you come back to the studio and build up all those ideas,’ she explained.

‘I have such a laborious, full-on studio practice; it’s like falling into a vortex. A residency offers an interesting half-way point to think about other things.'

Pinchuk is the second Australian to head to the distillery, following Joan Ross who was awarded the inaugural residency in 2015.

‘This is the first time ever that I’ve applied for anything; I am not that kind of artist,’ she said, wanting to discourage “the usual suspects” syndrome we often attach to prizes.

‘I have an eyes-open-mouth-shut policy, which makes it really hard to apply for things. It not like, “I’m going to be here and I’m going to do this and I’ll meet this person – it will be profound”. It doesn’t work that way for me.

‘You don’t necessarily know why you are drawn to something; sometimes the answer doesn’t reveal itself to you immediately,’ said Pinchuk, adding that everything is an ongoing dialogue and that the residency environment teases out the unexpected over time. 

How to apply

The Residency Prize is valued at $21,000, which consists of travel costs, accommodation, a monthly per diem, and a materials allowance.

The residency is for a three-month period sometime between April and October 2018 - a period long enough to grow a connection with the landscape, and catch on to the accent. The program is also open for artists to extend that period.

The selected artist will have the opportunity to show their ‘in progress’ work or perform a project during the residency period.

Read the application guidelines.

Candidates will be shortlisted by jury consideration, with five finalists presented at Sydney Contemporary art fair in September.

The winning artist will be agreed upon by the Artists in Residence project manager / curator in conjunction with the Glenfiddich Australian Brand Manager. They will be notified by 18 September 2017.

Applications close 31 July 2017.

About the author

Gina Fairley covers the Visual Arts nationally for ArtsHub. Based in Sydney you can follow her on Twitter @ginafairley and Instagram at fairleygina.