From Shameera Wiest

31 Oct - 23 Nov 2017

“When people concentrate on the idea of beauty, they are, without realizing it, confronted with the darkest thoughts that exist in this world. That, I suppose, is how human beings are made.”  ― Yukio Mishima, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion  

Here at the Trélex residency, I am surrounded by all that is beautiful and pure. Air--pollution free. Nature-- mountains all around me. Nurture-- a warm home to think and create..  

But coming to Trelex from Beijing,  I cannot find release from the grey smog that has been my near-daily companion for the last year.   

Smog from my window in China

The dark foreboding of cameras and guards that greet me at every step in my neighborhood.   

As the orange leaves and red rooftops of Trélex and dark leafy green peaks of surrounding Jura seek to make an impression, my subconscious remains assaulted by grey or pollution, metallic compounds, architecture and chemical-laden air.   

During this residency, I am working on a variety of projects.   

Drawing scenes of scenes at the window for further research on color

Reading books found in the book collection in my room, to understand the definition of sublime and subconscious, thematic concepts in my paintings.   

Editing video clips of daily morning window views from Beijing to supplement a series of oil paintings I have been working on in my home studio.  

Paintings in progress at Trelex  

Visiting art exhibits in Lausanne, Geneva, Basel and bordering Germany to gather inspiration. In Lausanne  Ai Wei Wei's exhibition on his observations of China; in Geneva and Basel fine art museums to study the exploration of sublime by classical and contemporary painters ranging from Titian to Barnett Newman; and in Germany the Vitra Design Campus to study the intersection of art and science. Inspired by this research, I painted a series of 6 oil canvases for my upcoming exhibit in Beijing, titled "To the Edge of Visibility"

Artist Zaha Hadid. Fire Station, Vitra DesignCampus, Germany. 1993

Engaging in vibrant, nurturing conversations with fellow artist and writer, Catriona to further self-assess for the purpose of our individual work.  I will cherish this experience at Trelex as a crucial turning point in my growth as an artist and thank Nina for her guidance and access to her lovely home.

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.


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!

Michelle Loa Kum Cheung

17 Mar - 01 Apr 2017

As it would appear with most of the artists who are fortunate enough to be able to spend some time at the Trelex residency, I arrived with an aim, a purpose, an artistic mission. Coming from a highly strung London life, and growing up in a generation where success is often defined by production, accomplishment, and efficiency, my mind was pre-conditioned to set a goal and achieve it, which would validate the time spent at the residency. However, after my time at Trelex, I've decided, to sum up how beneficial the residency was to myself in five different but interconnected ways:

To run your day to your own time, to your own schedule, even for a fixed period, is such a blessing. To have the extra time to think, create, reflect. The luxury of choosing how you spend your time, what you do, and when you do it is invaluable. Equally as important are the moments when you stop - and time flows with no significant and defining event, no conscious awareness and no pressure.

The result of having limited time in one's "normal life" is that the opportunity for play, being creative and exploring becomes an activity perceived as a guilty pleasure - but which is clearly an integral part of the artistic process, and should not be downplayed. On my third day, Nina took myself and the other artists, Sophia Starling and Ewa Wesolowska, through the process of book binding - both a luxuriously time consuming and precise art form. The tutorial resulted in hours spent afterwards investigating the properties of paper, the potential for a different display of and engagement with an object of art and a new line of direction for my work.

With the extra time to play, the curiosity of exploring around the studio grew, and this is testament to Nina's generous nature, both in her advice and her willingness to help others. There are supplies in the studio which are available to the artists, for experimentation. Using the supplies is like borrowing from the traces of past artists, their tools, their experiences. Also being never having been to that part of Switzerland, exploring the surrounds, Geneva and Lausanne was akin to a cultural escape.

Talking with Nina - fruitful, engaging, supportive
Talking with other studio artists - relaxing, intermittent, diverse
Talking with Nina's children - humorous, entertaining, impressive
Talking with Swiss people - challenging with limited French skills
Talking with Talisker - at à place!

As with the mindfulness craze sweeping the globe, it was an inevitable and necessary outcome of the solitude and disconnectedness of Trelex - to be content and settled to just "be", whether it be on walks, sitting in the sunshine, at your studio desk - the silence and retreat which Trelex offers also shines the light on what is going on internally, not just externally.

All in all, I was only at Trelex for two weeks, and look forward to spending more time there in the future. To say that it was a wonderful retreat is to state the obvious - to say that it was an enriching experience, both as an artist and human being, is an understatement. Nina is incredibly genuine and supportive, both as a person and in what she is providing through the residency itself, and much thanks should go to Abi Box who organises the roster of artists. Thank you for the amazing time!

From Jess Raby

23 Jan - 04 Feb 2017

I arrived at the airport a little anxious but very excited. In Geneva, I was greeted by Nina. She drove me straight to the house from there. On the journey I was happy to see snow. When we got to the village I was shown around the house and garden and introduced to Nina’s family. I was already looking at what could take part in my next projects. 

Testing out projections in the studio. Dead Rose, digital video

The house is just beautiful. I enjoyed the garden swing sometimes too! The bedrooms are warm and cosy, lots of books which are there for you to read. I loved the studio space, particularly the moveable walls which were key for me as I was able to make a darkened space to film in when blocking out light from the window too.

Filming a rose I found in the village

I started my first day getting to know my bearings and discover things, come up with ideas. The rest of my time on the residency I spent a lot of time playing and experimenting in the studio. I found the time extremely valuable as when the residency finished I felt I had developed my working process and approaches and returned home with clear plans as to what I was going to do in my next two upcoming University exhibitions. 

Filming snow as the sun set

As I came to Trelex on a cancellation I could only come for two weeks but I hope to come back for a longer period of time in the future. 

There are lots of materials and items Nina is happy to share with you. I benefited from a lighting set-up, fishing wire, tape, paper, glue and more. 

When I needed a break from the studio I enjoyed trips out to Nyon, Lausanne, and Geneva. I found the train easy to get. You just buy your ticket form the station in Trelex and head to Nyon for directions to the larger cities or you can catch the train up the mountains for gorgeous views and picturesque villages. 

A gorgeous sunny day in Lausanne. Well worth the trip.

I didn’t come with a plan for this residency, I wanted to open up and let go and enjoy the luxury of having a studio space and no other commitments for a full two weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from this. I am so grateful to Nina for offering the experience. 

I collected objects from my surroundings and experimented with them in the studio. I was glad to find one of few living flowers in the village. Other objects I collected included dead flowers, seeds, a dead wasp, and feathers.

Filming feather, shadow and fan

I loved having the luxury of having time to read a few books that had been on my list for a while. I enjoyed conversations with the other artists I met whilst at Trelex and Nina, talking about my work and artist influences. All in all, what a lovely experience. Time to think, read, make, and review. Perfect! 

You can view more images of my time on the residency here.  

I also made a few videos of my walks around Trelex and in Nyon on my first few days which you can view here.