Morag Iles is a part time PhD student (in the second half of her first year) researching artist residency spaces and their impact on artists’ practice and the wider sector. Morag is one of 13 studentships within SGSAH’s AHRC Creative Economies Research Hub.
Researching artist residencies
The value of artistic practice is hard to define, especially with regards to its long-term impacts. Building on this, my research will develop methods to evaluate the impacts that artist residencies have on artistic practice.
In collaboration with industry partners Cove Park, The Bothy Project and The Work Room, the artist’s experience at the heart will be at the heart of my research. My goal is to use existing data and generate new data in order to quantify and describe the value of rural, urban and interdisciplinary residencies.
Research Support Training Award
In February 2019 I received a Research Support Training Award. The award covered the travel expenses I would incur attending the Res Artis conference at the Kyoto Arts Centre, Japan. The conference runs annually and spans over 3 days.
Res Artis is a worldwide network of artist residencies. Each year its conference brings together some of the 600 organisations, centres and individuals that host residency spaces. There are 70 countries which make up Res Artis’ membership.
The conference is internationally facing. It highlights sector trends, issues and developments across the global North and South. Peer learning is encouraged through the conference, as well as expanding and documenting knowledge in the field of artist residencies.
Creative Encounters: re-imagining residencies
When I arrived at Kyoto Arts Centre, there were 146 delegates from 45 different countries. The conference was titled Creative Encounters: Re-imagining Residencies and addressed the evolution of artist residency models. Traditional models were compared with new residency types, including both start-up and virtual residency spaces.
The programme included lots of exciting opportunities. There were presentations, panel discussions, excursions to local residency spaces and Kyoto City University of Arts and hands-on workshops. In the workshop I attended, delegates explored methods of evaluating artists’ experiences, including how to archive residency outcomes.
The benefits of attending the conference
The conference provided a valuable international context for my research. It was an opportunity to network with organisations, individuals and institutions. It enabled me to better understand different residency models, particularly those that sit outside Western ideas of art and production and state funding structures.
As a delegation we discussed and interrogated the impact that mobility issues, political and social disruption and ecological change are having on the art world and how they are shaping contemporary residency opportunities.
During the conference Taru Elfving and Irmeli Kokko launched their new book Contemporary Artist Residencies: Reclaiming Time and Space. The book is also edited by Pascal Gielen, as part of the Art in Society series.
The history of artist residencies spans to 1900, to patronage and artists’ colonies. Yet, in the growing and ever-changing field, little, before this book considers the role and impact of contemporary residencies.
Whilst at the conference, I met with Taru and Irmeli. To begin with, I introduced my research to them and we discussed how it compliments their publication. Then we had a conversation about how practice-based knowledge and academic knowledge could work together to quantify and articulate artist residencies. This connection was invaluable for myself as a researcher, the profile of my research and the work of my industry partners.
Looking to the future
Later this year I am going to Sweden to meet with two of the organisations I met at the conference. During the conference I met another PhD student from University of Melbourne researching residencies. Together, we intend to begin an international research group and Res Artis have invited us to present at next year’s conference, disseminating our research to the wider membership.
Without the financial support from the College of Arts, I would not have been able to attend the conference. For anyone who is thinking of applying for financial support, I would highly recommend the Research Support Training Award as it has enabled me to further my research and develop opportunities for the future.