Des Res

In a week or so I will be setting off to Japan for an artist’s residency of several weeks to further my Japanese woodblock printing skills. At present details remain sketchy: I know I am the British artist, but don’t know who my four other companions are or which countries they will represent. Interestingly this worries me far less than the thought of crossing Tokyo. Printmakers always have plenty in common; I and the noodle sprawl of the Tokyo subway less so…

On the face of it, an artist’s residency seems like a bit of a jolly. Five weeks to indulge. Indeed, ‘aren’t you lucky’ is something I have been hearing on a very regular basis. I wouldn’t argue with the fact that I am lucky, but what I see as luck may not be the same as the luck implied in the comment. Artists like me have the luck of possessing the drive to stick with a technique and work through the catastrophes, goofs and setbacks to get to a point where we can be good enough to be considered for residencies. After that, luck is out of the equation: selection committees select, they don’t tend to pull names at random from a hat (at least I’ve never been on one that’s done that, however dull the evening and close the pub).

The residency also brings responsibility. I am giving up earnings, cancelling a workshop or two and putting family on hold to go out there. I’d better have something to show for it when I get back. I’m gambling that five weeks far from my comfort zone will result in a move forward in my work. I don’t doubt it will be a marvelous trip and I am certainly not asking for sympathy. I’m more explaining that a residency has to mark a point of change for my work or I will have failed and not be lucky at all: I’ll just have been self indulgent.

7 thoughts on “Des Res”

  1. I recall a golfer, Gary Player I think, was once being interviewed and the impression that he was very lucky came up. He replied “Yes, and the more I practice the luckier I get!”

  2. All I can say is that I hope you have an amazing time out there. I am sure you will learn even more than you appear to know already and I for one am really looking forward to seeing the results. I think that just by being in Japan will be incredibly inspiring (I am personally extremely envious, I would love to go there) as it is a beautiful country.
    Something tells me it’s going to be worth it. All the best to you!

  3. I believe the word luck is simply used in the wrong context. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been a musician for many years and many people have used that word in context of what I’ve done and who I’ve played with, but it was a product of 8 hours practise a day for many years, bad nights, rejections and duff, boring and nerve wracking gigs and over stretched adrenal glands! The only fortuitous (a better word than luck) part is sometimes being in the right place at the right time and appealing to the right persons ears!
    You have done this through hard work, dedication and commitment and I’m sure many blisters! Forget what they say and just go and use it as part of your pilgrimage, for that’s what it is,; part of the journey you tread which has no discernible ends place yet. Exciting, therefore, and an opportunity to grow.
    Go and drink it all in.

  4. Dear Laura, I am so proud to know you and very happy for your success. How hard you’ve worked for that success is evident in your beautiful work. Best wishes for your upcoming residency. Please say hi from me if you see any familiar faces. I can’t wait to see how this experience will impact your studio work! xo

  5. Yes often the perception of an artist being ‘lucky’ is very far from the truth. I think you are very brave in jumping out of your comfort zone and taking this artist residency. I am sure it will be worth all the things that you are giving up for these five weeks in Japan and you will come back more enriched for your journey.
    Looking forward to reading your posts and seeing photos of your visit.
    Jacqui

  6. Hi Laura,
    It is great to read that you have got a 2nd residency in Japan – many congratulations. I loved hearing about the 1st one.
    I’m sure it will be of great benefit again, good luck with it and all the best

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