From Lia Brooks

18 Sep - 29 Oct 2017



Something about the Light – Lia Brooks (poet)  


Lia at window

I had never been to Switzerland. I had a small idea of what it might be like, but I purposely made sure I didn't research the country before arriving. Instead I set myself a task – to learn about the land, the people and the architecture.  

When I first arrived at the residency, I was sure that the sound I was hearing all around me belonged to chimes. I imagined every front door in the village had a metal or wooden wind-chime hanging outside of it. It wasn't until I had seen the true reason with my own eyes that I could believe the sound belonged to the cows – bells up under their soft, heavy chins clanging musically every time they chewed the cud. It was a sound I grew used to, and a sound I eventually needed to hear in order to sleep well at night.   




I don't know if I was lucky with the weather at this time of year (late October), but it was warm most days. Only the evenings grew colder, but it was still lovely to walk after dark. It would be hard to find an area more inspiring – the sky is somehow different in Trélex. I mean to say, different to what I know of my own land, the south of England. Both are beautiful in their way, of course, but the sky in Switzerland is striking. The clouds, the distant Jura, the tall, thin trees, and underneath, the fascinating buildings and the fields – all of it is different – the vineyards in their golden-red rows and the church spires pointed like witches' hats.  




The residency, Maison Binet, is a creative and fascinating place to return to each day, both inside and out. The rooms, halls and stairwells are filled with images. I found the artist and owner of the residency, Nina Rodin, inspiring. Her perceptiveness surprised and challenged me to push forward with my work. She is so particularly generous and keen to make connections between her residents, linking them up if she can, to unlock their potential. Her energy runs through the building like its own electrical charge. How glad I am to have had the opportunity to meet her!  


a small poem written at the residency

I was told that the small shop in Trélex was rarely open; that I would have to pick my moment well, so I took an early walk into the village. First, I went to the bakery. The young woman behind the counter spoke English very well and forgave my poor attempts asking for wholemeal bread – pain complet. I then walked past the small shop and saw someone through the door window. It was open! I smiled at the older gentleman behind the counter and roamed the shelves. He came over to the cold counter and tidied it. I asked if he spoke English. He said no. We both laughed. In my best French I asked for Cider. He stared at me, raised an eyebrow and said with astonishment, “Cidre??” I smiled and nodded (it's very hard to find cider in Switzerland so it was worth a try). He said one word, which I think was an exclamation, and picked up some keys, left the door wide open and disappeared up the street.  

I stood in the dim light of the shop wondering what had happened. Had I used French well enough? Had I said something entirely wrong? I just didn't know. I stood and waited. Time passed. I could smell the fruit and went over to the fruit trays. I picked up two of the largest apples I had ever seen. I picked up an avocado pear. I stood in the middle of the shop again, the wind cool through the open doorway, the quiet, low-lit shelves all around me. I reached out and picked up Swiss chocolate (well I had to, didn't I). Then I frowned... was he actually going to come back at all?... and how strange for him to leave a stranger alone in his shop. It just wouldn't happen in England. 

Trust is a thinner more delicate and brittle thing in England.  Just afterwards, when I was thinking about leaving my money on the counter, I heard footsteps hurrying outside, and then the shop owner appeared and rushed over to me with a large bottle. He held it out tapping the label. “Cidre?” he asked in a rich and warm Swiss-French voice. I laughed and said yes! It was apple cider. I can only imagine that it came from his own home; his own personal bottle of cider. What a generous and unusual man. He wished me well and good day in a ringing French language much like cow-bells and I smiled...   


  

What light there was, walking back to Maison Binet! I watched it warming through afternoon in the garden, and turn red by dusk, trees whispering their ancient songs, cow-bells somehow part of it and mountains all around me on the land like distant giants. This is how it was for me.  

I was not only there for my own writing development and private recovery, but also to support the research of close friend and poet, Lois P. Jones, who I was grateful to share the residency with. The research took us to Geneva and The Old Town, to the water's edge, on a train-ride into the mountains as far as Raron, and then to Sierre and Muzot. Even across the lake, by ferry, to Yvoire. I not only discovered Switzerland for myself, the romance of it, but I also discovered her Switzerland – her memories from years ago. I really did have a 360º view of the country!   

For anyone interested in attending the residency, I would sincerely recommend spending as much time there as your life allows. Mine was a short stay and I could have easily stayed for much longer. Even a few more weeks. The area around Binet House is beautiful. The transportation system is excellent and will take you anywhere you wish to go. A trip well worth considering is the ferry from Nyon to Yvoire – it's amazing that one moment you're standing in Switzerland and twenty minutes later you're standing in France!   

Château d'Yvoire
  

As it was, and even though my stay was short, I began to consider my writing objectively. I noticed the internal flaws and how I could improve them. I also found new ways to move my writing forward. I scribbled every idea down in my notebook and now have a great deal of material to work on. I'm excited about the future of my writing and it feels good to finally have a clear path forward. I have the residency to thank for that. I realise how often I've been caught up in the mechanisms of daily life – work, family, stress and financial worry. The hard stuff, too. Days and weeks pass, months even, and it is as if I am sleeping-walking through those hours. It's not a healthy way of living – certainly not for a creative person. The residency made me stop and spend time on myself and my writing. It was the permission I needed. And there are plenty of areas to sit and create. Desks, open floorspace, high windows looking out over the garden and fields. Even movable walls to help build your own working area just how you want it. The kitchen has a table and a window seat, which is also a good place to spend time and unwind. I spent a lot of time in the garden...  

I think the danger is that, when I'm at home, I am so easily consumed by the grit of daily life rather than writing about it. How easy it is to sleep through it all...  

No, no 
But I was awake that day – the day of the shop. The day in Trélex when light fell over the Jura and rode out among the trees so every patch of colour between shadows was burnt ochre and red. Wind skimming the grass and leaves as if for the first time. The light, for the first time. And myself, in my own private recovery, took a breath of both.   


residency garden at evening




From Sam Mould

26 Sep - 05 Oct 2017



Autumn is sweeping through Trélex. The hillside is a glorious patchwork of burnt sienna, leafy greens, bright yellow through to hues of flamed vermillion that soften into the deep embers of red.  The ground is cooling, leaves litter the footpaths and the forests of the hillside sing.

I’m out walking. Step. Step. Step. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Every pace a musical delight under foot. Small birds peer beady eyed from the pines, a red squirrel bounces across my way, a Jaybird flashes blue whilst pine-cones aim shot from above. The afternoon is warm and as I clear the treeline, a view is afforded to Lac Leman. I count my turns, my change in direction noted each time, as I clock up the footfall.

When walking time slows, in my mind at least. The rhythmic vibes of each step make space to think differently. That’s the beauty of a residency, time to get into the rhythm of creative thinking and allow it to articulate itself in any form. My creative thinking and problem solving brings a collection of articles back to the studio to re-map my walk, points and distance and rock reimagined.     

A quick swim in the glassy lake livens my thoughts and then the night falls quickly here. A full moon brings it’s marbled light through the skylight as I wait for sleep content in the day's work.










From Denise A.

29 Aug - 20 Sept 2017



This summer I had the privilege to spend 3 weeks at the Trelex residency, an opportunity that literally fell into my lap when sitting on the tube in London in early July while thinking how great it would be to get out of this busy town and to focus on my writing. Voila! A few weeks later I was already on my way to Geneva airport. Going on a residency is always a funny thing because it feels a little bit like going on holiday but at the same time, it is not a holiday because you want to make sure you make the best out of having time and space to focus on your practice or in my case writing. (Self-imposed) Pressure to produce on residencies can be paralysing and thinking about Nieztsche and how much he got done during his visits to Sils Maria (Engadin, Switzerland) during the 1880s didn't really help me to decrease it. No comparison with Nietzsche and myself is intended in this statement. Anyway coming back to the residency in Trelex, it just offers a great environment to deal with this double-edged-sword of pressure and pleasure. While diving deeply into the theory and analysis of my practice, I also managed to dip my feet into the lovely lake Geneva and climb the hills right behind Trelex. All activities that are connected and beneficial to each other. The first time I went up to St. Cergue, I wasn't entirely sure about distance and how long it would take; like being on the residency, you don't know entirely what to expect when you walk a path for the first time. After 90-minutes of uphill walking, I heard some cowbells…and there they were, two of most content cows I have ever met. Having an entire meadow for themselves, enjoying what nature has to offer. 





A potential analogy to the residency? Maybe… two artists having a huge amount of space and enjoying what nature has to offer?! The second time I went up the mountain (by bike, just for the record) … by the time I heard the cowbells I started feeling content as well, must be contagious. Content about so many things including my progress on writing, even though the number of words written at that point still remained low. What was important to me was the progress I made in the construction of ideas, themes, and connections; a process which requires a huge plain wall and an incredible number of different shaped post-its. A masterpiece in its own right. Realising at some point, that most of my neon-coloured post-its were purchased in a nearby town called Nyon, was just the cherry on the cake. No way to imagine what Nietzsche would have done had he had such a variety of post-its available. Again no comparison intended. Anyway, there were many highlights during my stay but I consider it pointless to put a number on experiences that are so high in value.





End.


Denise's website


From James Kao

01 June - 17 Aug 2017



When I arrived to Trélex in early June, Nina’s youngest son quickly announced that there was an abundance of hedgehogs in the area. I commented that this was wonderful news as I would be thrilled to see my first wild hedgehog. Alexander immediately inquired about how long I would be staying, and when I told him I would be in Trélex until the end of August, he thoughtfully replied that there would be a high chance of a hedgehog sighting. Alexander then asked for a push on the rope swing hanging from the tall pines, and my residency at Trelex was off to a fresh start!  

Nina’s family is a beautiful family, and while every member of this clan understands that artists have come to Trélex to work on projects, each family member also has a wonderful way of sharing their peculiar inquisitiveness, kindness, and generosity.  Getting to know Nina’s family, Talisker included, is an incredible privilege of this residency.   

Towns, villages, mountains, Mont Blanc, clouds, streams, Lac Léman, woods, forests, farm fields, and livestock mark the landscape, and I could not have wanted to experience anything more on my daily walks. It is a picturesque place, and it is a place where folks who aren’t living off the land are certainly living with the land. All these motifs were a perfect complement to my ever-developing painting and drawing practice—traces of childhood, animals, and the angelic made my time magic.










From Dette Allmark

13 - 26 Aug 2017



I arrived in Trelex after being overwhelmed by the short journey from the shores of Lake Geneva the heightened vista of Trelex. Taking a small red train up past fields n fruit trees with tree topped hills in one direction and the lake n snow topped mountains in the other. The Rodins' home was the sort of childhood stories n I was shown up to a massive attic with views across the gardens. Here would be my studio space for the two weeks I was to stay.  

During my stay I focused on a drawing project on the loss of a child, not a sunny topic but this was a place where I could engage n focus on the theme. I took daily trips to swim in the lake n eat ice cream to balance out the morning topic. Using drawn images from my imagination I produced a series of 12 images to illustrate the theme n explore a woman's physical and psychological response to the issue. I'm grateful for such a beautiful and serene location to hide away in produce work and benefit from the delights of another artist as a studio companion. Many thanks and find below some images of the work produced.




From Sara Ashrafi

01 - 31 May 2017



I am in a house that I don’t think was built. It must have been planted.
Because just like the tree in front of me, it breathes and grows. Its roots search for pure life deep in the moist and fertile lands of Trélex. 
This was my first experience of painting outside my own workshop. A beautiful old house in the green village of Trélex. 
I am mulling over the sources of inspiration here.
It’s a unique experience to be both calm and creative!
How much I need both silence and effervescence!
In this European village, people are sparse and calm…
These days I want to paint insects and at times wild flowers.
And the sky is always a beautiful subject!
Later, I might also paint the creaking of the wooden stairs.
Yesterday, I felt lost among the six trashcans and the gum in my mouth. I had never thought in which one I had to throw my gum! I finally swallowed the gum and that was the best way to end the dilemma. 
It is getting warm is Switzerland and it’s possible to go outside with summer clothes without any worries and stroll. 
Sometimes I bike around this dream village and of course in search for people who come out of their houses for strolling or biking.
They say hello and pass. They are gentle and calm. But calm to what extent? To the extent that I think if I stay here for one year, people would fly away from my paintings and I’d become the painter of nature.
I know of a lot of painters here who only paint the wild flowers and the singing birds. 
How cheerful the baby goats are and the bees make honey with love!
In the mornings, I wake up by the sound of birds and the breeze from the Alps. Sometimes, I feel like I’m dead and that I was so good that I have entered Heaven!
Now, I am preoccupied with the plan of going to the subway when I turn back to Tehran, going aimlessly from Tajrish to Rah-ahan or getting on the bus at 5 PM and watching all the city and all the people!