Artist in Residency Programme

Date: 
3 years 3 weeks ago

Giving space to better thinking!

A new partnership for the arts and the environment

Arts Council of Wales has teamed up with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to create a three year artist in residency programme for aspiring and leading artists at the company’s flagship Elan Valley estate in Powys. 

This partnership, which is unique in the UK, will highlight not only the heritage and historic significance of this unique location, but will also celebrate and increase its current relevance to local communities and contemporary Welsh culture. Although initially for three years, the partnership could develop into a long term relationship which would be built up around how artists work and think and how they interact with the natural environment around them.

Located close to the imposing dam at the southerly end of Pen-y-Garreg reservoir, a small two-storey cottage (pictured above) has been renovated and provides the current accommodation and operating environment for this exclusive artist–led pilot project.  It is aimed at developing artists’ practice across media and ways of working whilst raising the profile of the beautiful Elan Valley estate and over time interaction with visitors.

In an initial phase of the project, the Arts Council and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water have invited artists to help research possibilities for the longer term base of an artists’ retreat and residency project in this off the beaten track reach of the Elan Valley Estate. Providing such access to this unique location is an innovative way of helping artists reflect on their current work, develop new projects and be inspired by the environs of the Elan Valley.

Artists will be encouraged to record their thoughts and experiences in written, audio, visual form or by some other means they deem appropriate.  Whatever the outcome, the intention is to use their materials to help shape future ideas around Elan Valley. The findings of the artists will be left, rather like in an explorers’ cabin, where other occupants that follow may find points of contact that prove interesting or inspiring.

David Alston, Arts Director, Arts Council of Wales said:  “The pilot programme’s purpose is to engage artists in a first instance, to gather ideas, materials and information. The collected experience and information is to be used as part of the definition process to help shape the programme‘s longer term future. The pilot is hopefully a mutually beneficial exchange. It assists artists in their continuing creative practice, offering them time and unparalleled access in an extraordinary locality. In return, it asks for a contribution of thought, a consideration of ideas stimulated here and in some shape or form, a passing on of information, of how an artist experienced this place.”

A visit to Elan Valley never fails to delight and inspire. Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and the Elan Valley Trust are the custodians of a beautiful area stretching 72 square miles with historic landscapes and thriving wildlife. The dams and reservoirs, the working legacy of remarkable Victorian engineering, add to the captivating and ever changing scenery, and this is the raw material that artists have to work from.

Ed Parsons, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water Area Lands Manager at Elan Valley added:  “The Elan Valley, as it exists today, is a powerful metaphor for human intervention in the natural environment. It is against this backdrop that Elan Valley offers a very rich and culturally charged landscape for artists to explore  and research - making it the perfect location for work such as this. We are very much looking forward to taking part in this adventure.”

The initial artists invited to participate in the opening phase of research at Elan Valley are:

Simon Whitehead, Eddie Ladd, Anthony Shapland, Gideon Koppel, Richard Higlett, Nils Norman, Catrin Webster, Simon Fenoulhet, Mike Perry, Alison Hayes, Morag Colquhoun and Carwyn Evans. The curatorial panel the Arts Council has convened to steer this work: includes officers from both organisations and the participation of Arts Council member Osi Rhys Osmond and National Advisers Rab Gahzoul and Heike Roms and Richard Powell, who is also acting as a project coordinator for this initial phase.