With ‘artist in residence’ programs traditionally sustaining many a practice for artists across disciplines, we asked director and choreographer Sarah Neville about her experience of the relatively new model of ‘Family in Residence’:
Over the last two years I have been sustaining my arts practice through a ‘family in residence’ model. Having young children has changed my perception of work and life. I realised that this was not just a phase of life I needed to manage but that my life can positively inform my creative practice. I work in contemporary performance and my husband in music and visual arts but primarily in Human Factors. Together with Miranda 6 and Florence 2 we have pursued research on the theme of Weather Lore / Speculative Culture over a series of family focussed residencies.
‘Changing the world will always require action and participation in the public realm, but in our time that will no longer be sufficient. We’ll have to change the way we live, too. What that means is that the sites of our everyday engagement with nature – our kitchens, gardens, houses, cars – matter to the fate of the world in a way they never have before.’ – Michael Pollan, Cooked
Our first residency was facilitated by Foam in Brussels. As the quote above mentions, how we live matters to the fate of the world, and as a cultural operator Foam see it as their role to explore ways of living and working as creative processes. At Foam they prefer to put the artwork, the artists and all the elements that make up the arts organisation itself into the same pressure-cooker of daily life, and see what comes out. For more on Foam’s commitment to ‘family in residence,’ see http://fo.am/family_in_residence/ and http://fo.am/blog/2013/08/30/generous-generalists/.
The following year we trialled the Foam model at the art lab Adhocracy, at Vitalstatistix in Port Adelaide. Here I found that my creative drive was by necessity directed into being active in daily life; cooking, playing with the children, caring for our plants and talking to our visitors. I am still finding my feet in this new methodology and realise that trying something different is part of the growth for me as an artist: http://www.sarahneville.com/view/Speculative+Culture+Weather+Lore+2/93/
It is somewhat reassuring to see that the model of the artist as family doesn’t exist in isolation here in Australia, there is also a current blog – theartistasfamily blog, that defines family travels on bikes around Australia and sustainable living as performance art. Similarly, we are also interested in sustainable living and concerned about Climate Change. Our next reiteration of ‘family in residence’ is at Oratunga Sheep Station in the Flinders Rangers, facilitated through Open-Space.