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!