Scottish couple, Colin Usher and Julia Douglas, moved into a stunning mansion house in the centre of the vibrant market town of Nérac in South West France, in 2017 to set up Studio Faire. Studio Faire is not only their home but also fast becoming a centre for artistic development, providing funded and self-funded residencies, for all types of creative practitioner. Residencies offer a period of uninterrupted time, in spacious studios brimming with character.
The Studio Faire Residency Award offers one artist, selected from OPEN 2018, a one-month Artist Residency at Studio Faire, including accommodation, studio space and travel expenses from Scotland, a photo shoot and a public showing of the artist’s work. A stay at Studio Faire offers the pace and space to create, in one of the most picturesque parts of Gascony, but also access to the wealth of skills and knowledge shared by Colin and Julia.
Colin is a photographer, digital designer and drummer. He spent his 20s as a photographer for The Face, The List, Dance and Theatre companies, while playing drums in indie bands in the earnest search of a record deal and music-based career. He bought his first Mac in 1993 and has worked in and around the creative digital industries ever since. He now runs courses in photography from Studio Faire and happily helps residents with their marketing, crowdfunding and photography.
Julia is a mixed media visual artist, with a specialism in textiles. She has been a Professional Member of Visual Arts Scotland since 2007 and was a committee member from 2007 to 2010. In 2011, Julia started working for the SSA as Administrator and when she left in 2016, she was awarded Honorary Membership for her service to the society. Since winning six awards at open exhibitions, as well as undertaking four artist residencies, Julia fully appreciates the boost these both can give to an artist’s career and now manages the residencies at Studio Faire.
For this inaugural year of offering the Studio Faire Residency Award, Colin and Julia agreed immediately and unanimously on the work they felt best merited this award.
Sea Tangle by Sarah Gittins.
Sarah Gittins is a visual artist working across a variety of media, with a particular focus on drawing and printmaking. Her work explores issues of environmental justice, with a current emphasis on issues of climate change, resource use and food sustainability. Sarah’s images create a space where the activities of everyday life (in western culture) encounter incidents of (global) environmental concern, bringing those issues which are often pushed to the edges of consciousness into the here and now of personal awareness.
Sea Tangle was developed by Sarah Gittins during a research residency with An Talla Solais in Ullapool, Scotland, in April 2017, where her research focused on investigating how low-impact fishing practices are, or will be, affected by climate change. This artwork aims to ‘weave together some of the interconnecting threads of working lives, environmental change and life sustained by the sea’.
Through a little research of their own, Colin and Julia discovered that, in addition to an interest in climate change, Sarah was also exploring land use and food sustainability, and how she can enable engagement, conversation and action for change through image-making and, in some cases, performance.
The South West of France is famed for it’s farm-to-table approach to eating; with weekly farmer’s markets selling locally produced fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and wine. As Sarah has an interest in raising awareness of where food comes from (for example, Sarah is currently collaborating with artist Jonathan Baxter on Dundee Urban Orchard (DUO) a public art and horticulture project reimagining Dundee as an ‘orchard city’), Colin and Julia wondered if she might be interested in finding out more about the orchards of Gascony. They love to see people at the market who just specialise in one thing, tomatoes, mushrooms, strawberries, hazelnuts, kiwis, apples, pears, melons … it really depends on the season what you will find.
In addition to the growing and eating of fruit and vegetables in Aquitaine, France, every year the surrounding landscape fills up with a focus on a different crop. One year it may be sunflowers (SO stunning) and another maze. It is more agricultural crops than animal farming in that area, though there is a lot of duck. But if you don’t like duck, there is also duck!
Colin and Julia would be delighted if Sarah found inspiration for new work in this rural part of France where growing and eating locally produced food is the way of life. But there are no obligations for her residency. They are confident that simply embracing this slow pace of life in a warm climate will allow her time to think, play and develop her work.
Colin Usher and Julia Douglas are both delighted to be able to offer this funded residency award at OPEN 2018 and excited to see what will materialize when they welcome Sarah Gittins to Studio Faire.
For more information on Studio Faire and to book your residency see www.studiofaire.co.uk
To see more of Sarah's work see sarahgittins.wordpress.com