2021 Gunyah artists-in-residence program announcement

Congratulations to the artists selected for the 2021 Gunyah artists-in-residence program: 

James VicarsMelinda YoungPrudence Holloway & Benjamin KiehneRox De LucaWendy TsaiBlake LawrenceAnnelise Roberts & Jack PalmerNadia OdlumDanica Knezevic.

You can follow their residencies on Instagram @gunyahartists #gunyahartists 

Thank you to everyone who applied – the number of applications more than tripled last year! 

Gunyah sun deck


Residency report: Isabelle Devos & Helena Pastor

Isabelle: I made the long drive down from the tablelands of NSW to the coast, towards the promising thoughts of creative focus, rest and restoration with friend and writer, Helena Pastor. We had agreed to meet at Gunyah that afternoon. As I unpacked my car in the driveway at Gunyah, I marvelled at the simple natural beauty of the place. 

The following ten days were long, restful and creative. Never before have I had such time to myself to devote to creative introspection and outward expression. I collected botanical materials from each walk, created daily bouquets and arrangements, exploring their shapes and colours. My creative work was to be purposely undefined, allowing myself time to play and create, based on no outcomes, some of the work in response to the location and some work out of my memories.

The water of the cove was mesmerising to someone who lives far from the ocean, ever changing from clear and inviting to dark and ominous with building storm clouds and winds. I found myself down at the jetty many times each day to sit and observe the water, land and light. I allowed myself time to breathe, rest and observe for periods of time during the day and the studio space became a place of focused creativity. After the multiple challenges during the past 18 months, this residency was the perfect antidote.

Each afternoon, I met up with Helena and we shared stories and laughter and enjoyed preparing meals together. Helena began writing lyrics to a song based on stories of my childhood memories of my French grandmother’s house. I hope to create a painting to go along with this song, when completed.

Thank you to all who make the gift of Gunyah possible. I will never forget my time here. 

Isabelle Devos, December 2020

Isabelle Devos, Approaching storm at North Arm Cove

Isabelle Devos, Ink painting on paper, study of beach at North Arm Cove

Isabelle Devos, Study of North Arm Cove water and land, acrylic on paper

Isabelle Devos, Botanical colour study, gouache on paper

Helena: I loved every moment of being at Gunyah with my fellow artist-in-residence, Isabelle Devos. Over the ten days of our residency, my world became very small and I often felt like I was living on a peaceful tropical island. My Gunyah routine consisted of a morning coffee on the window seat overlooking the ever-changing waters of North Arm Cove, then a long walk past a variety of interesting letterboxes and house styles, meeting local residents and dogs, and then home – yes, Gunyah felt like home – to work on ‘One Fork, One Knife, One Life’ – a new memoir project that reflects on the wartime and immigration experiences of my Dutch parents who came to Australia in 1959.

With the help of a 2019/20 Create NSW Small Project Grant (a wonderful validation of this new step forward) and the nurturing creative environment of Gunyah, I completed the first big baggy draft of ‘One Fork, One Knife, One Life’. The draft is currently an unwieldly ‘prose blob’ that needs wrangling into shape and whittling down, but it exists and I’m feeling excited about beginning work on the next stage. I also enjoyed hearing about Isabelle’s fascinating and eccentric French grandmother, and I’ve nearly finished the song lyrics that came out of our conversations.

Like Isabelle, I particularly enjoyed the jetty at Gunyah, where I tuned in to the tides, listened to the water gently lap against the shoreline, and occasionally spotted dolphins. Shortly after returning home to Armidale – which certainly doesn’t feel like a tropical island! – I found out that I was one of two writers shortlisted for the 2020 Varuna New England Writers’ Centre Fellowship, a fabulous opportunity for writers in the New England area. Whatever the outcome of the judges’ final decision, I’m so happy to see ‘One Fork, One Knife, One Life’ resonating with readers. I’ve also just heard that I’ve been awarded a second Create NSW Small Project Grant to work with an editorial mentor on ‘One Fork’ once I knock the manuscript into shape. Hooray!

Thank you, Gunyah, for restoring my creative faith and optimism … I can’t wait to return.

Helena Pastor, December 2020

Helena Pastor, One Fork, One Knife, One Lifefirst big baggy draft

Helena Pastor, Feet up by the Gunyah waterfront 

Residency report: Riona Tindal

Riona Tindal in the Gunyah studio
Riona in the Gunyah studio

After finishing my PhD degree, I stopped making art full time. Utterly burnt out in 2016.
The urge and the trickle of the desire to create began towards the end of the year 2019 when I applied and was successful for a Gunyah residency. I spent the entire year planning and dreaming. And longed for it to happen “now”. Life was so hectic, even with COVID, losing one job, resigning from one, and starting a new job and a business at the same time, I had no time for art.
Busy work life with poor balance. 

I was so grateful to just get away and do something purely creative.
Once I arrived at Gunyah, it was a familiar environment as I spent summers as a child not far from Gunyah. The first night I was excited and set up everything and had a dinner looking out the cove.
Next day, I hit the ground running doing videos, sketching and planning.

Then… 24 hours later, I got stuck! Mentally stuck.
I was surprised. I completely could not function creatively.
Thank goodness for the Residency. If I was at home or at a studio, I would just give up and focus on my job or house, neglect my art again and again, possibly for months if not years, not dealing with it.

The residency – I was in a space that I had to deal with my mental mindset. It was a very good opportunity to do this. I needed this. I finally broke through on the Saturday (halfway!) and my creativity changed when I went back to my grassroots of my art education, right all the way back to when I first learned to paint, and then travelled with my memories, the people who were part of my creative journey and my skill sets, exploring and finding myself again and I slid into the creative groove that was mediative, into the zone. And I know I prefer this art style and it is not “modern”, so I removed the pressure of myself to be on the ‘trend’ and do what I am confident in.

It clicked.
I worked and explored colours across two main mediums and felt more in the groove. While I have not yet found what I want to do, I am more comfortable and letting go.

After the residency, I got offered a studio space/office space which to me, the universe is saying I need to do this! so this is my journey into reclaiming my creative side and explore being a full-time artist down the track. Will be applying for exhibitions in 2022.

I am grateful for the opportunity!

Riona Tinda
November 2020

Riona Tinda, Field study of the North Arm Cove, 2020, acrylic on canvas
Riona Tinda, Field study of the North Arm Cove, 2020, acrylic on canvas

Isabelle Devos and Helena Pastor: upcoming artists-in-residence

Isabelle Devos is a visual artist and Helena Pastor is a writer, they both live in Armidale NSW. 

Isabelle Devos and Helena Pastor
Isabelle Devos and Helena Pastor

Isabelle Devos grew up in the Great Lakes area of Canada, graduated from Art School on the Canadian east coast, and moved to rural Australia in her adult life. Her creative work includes painting, photography and conceptual art. Her collaborative conceptual piece The Insecurities Project received international attention from 2002 to 2004 from New York Times and in Vogue Italian magazine.

Isabelle Devos, Looking Back, 2009

Isabelle Devos, Looking Back, 2009

acrylic on linen 60 x 90 cm

Isabelle has spent the past fifteen years painting the suburban and rural landscapes of her region, and she exhibits her work in both group and solo shows in Sydney, Canada and across the New England area of NSW. Her work has won art prizes and been selected as finalist in several art prizes in both Australia and Canada. Her work is in the collection of the Art Bank of New Brunswick and her paintings have been commissioned by the University of New England among others. In her paintings there is a sense of disquiet, a seeking to capture the unsettled feeling of being on the verge of recalling an elusive half-remembered dream. There are stories in the landscapes and suburban scenes, and the viewer is asked to consider what stories are within these scenes. Isabelle has always enjoyed working with other artists within the arts community and has collaborated with Arts North West for an annual artist studio tour as well as a sculptural work Putting the Pieces Together with rural and isolated artists with disabilities. 

Isabelle Devos, Wallaroo Lookout, 2014

acrylic on linen 90 x 110 cm

Helena Pastor was born in Australia, but the rest of her family were born in the Netherlands. Through memoir, fiction and song lyrics, she explores topics close to her heart including women’s issues (especially all stages of motherhood), troubled youth, the aftershocks of war, and growing up in an immigrant family. Helena's writing has attracted Australian Society of Authors’ Mentorships, along with residencies at Varuna Writers’ House, Bundanon Trust, and Booranga and Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centres. She has completed two postgraduate degrees in Creative Nonfiction writing, and her first book, Wild Boys: A Parent’s Story of Tough Love (UQP, 2015), is an intimate insight into reconnecting disaffected teenagers with their families and communities.  

Helena Pastor, Wild Boys, published 2015

Helena Pastor, Wild Boys, published 2015

For the past five years, Helena has been collaborating with Armidale composer Chris Purcell, creating emotionally engaging songs that illuminate sensitive aspects of human life. Pastor & Purcell are currently recording their songs for an arts project called ‘Stories in Song’ (funded by Arts North West and Regional Arts NSW). In 2019, Helena collaborated with photographer Bernard Alberecht for the Art.Word.Place exhibition at Artstate Tamworth. 

Helena Pastor, FourW Twenty Seven New Writing, 'A daughter's dream', 2016

Helena Pastor and Bernard Alberecht, Art Word Place exhibition, Art State 2019 Tamworth

"... We are two friends – an artist and a writer – who have been living in a drought-stricken landscape, looking forward to a focused time away from family and other responsibilities to meet up for a restorative creative residency at Gunyah. Our new collaboration will be nurtured by spending time together in a house made with love and good intentions, surrounded by water and bushland. We are excited by the possibilities and projects that may emerge between painter and writer – words and thoughts, textures and stories. We hope to explore ideas around family, memories, and the flora and fauna of the beautiful Port Stephens area..." 

You can follow their residency via @gunyahartists on Instagram; and find out more about Isabelle's work at isabelledevosartist.blogspot.com.au and Helena's work at helenapastor.com

Applications for the 2021 Gunyah artists-in-residence program are now open!

Gunyah artists-in-residence program provides low cost self-contained accommodation for solo, collaboration, group and family short term creative residencies for visual artists, writers, composers, designers, curators, new media and performance artists.

The 2021 residency program will run from May to November, with seven residencies each lasting ten days, Monday to the following Friday week.

2021 residencies at Gunyah will be partially subsidised by the Gunyah owners, so the cost to artists is $360 for ten days or part thereof (for the whole property, not per person). A refundable $60 key deposit is required. Artists are welcome to bring their families and friends, up to six people.

Before applying please read about Gunyah. In your application you'll need to include your contact details, preferred dates, bio and artist statement, three images and a short description of what you plan to do during your residency.

To apply please fill out the online form or email gunyahresidency@yahoo.com 

Applications close Monday 30 November 2020. 

Residency report: Kathryn Cowen

Kathryn Cowen and Natalya Shinn at Gunyah

It is with thanks and gratitude that I reflect on my time at Gunyah. What an unexpected gift it was to step away from the craziness of 2020 life to spend a couple of weeks immersed in my practice at such a special place.

Exploring North Arm Cove near Gunyah

After a few long walks to soak in the surrounding bush and beaches, breathing deeply and fossicking for treasures, I settled into the studio to start drawing and constructing small sculptures. It was a time of play and experimentation interspersed with long chats with my dear friend and fellow artist Natalya Shinn who came along to keep me company.

Fossicking for treasures at a beach nearby

Combining natural materials that I found in the local area such as rocks, driftwood, seed pods, shells and twigs, with synthetic materials that I had brought along with me such as string, feathers, fabric, paint, plastic, beads and polymer clay; I pondered the future of biological forms. A collection of specimens emerged.

Kathryn Cowen, Work in progress - Biofuture Specimens, 2020

The world and how we live in it has changed this year. I am curious as to how our relationship with each other and our environment will adapt as a result. I can only hope it is for the better.

Kathryn Cowen, Work in progress - Biofuture Specimens, under UV light, 2020

Thank you to Kath Fries and the Gunyah Collective for the opportunity to take part in this residency. My cup is full and I am excited to be back in my studio exploring the possibilities generated by the Biofuture Specimens made at Gunyah for an exhibition in 2021.

Kathryn Cowen
October 2020

Kathryn Cowen, Work in progress - Biofuture Specimens, under UV light (detail), 2020

Upcoming artist-in-residence: Riona Tindal

Riona Tindal

Riona Tindal is an artist and passionate conservationist based in Newcastle. She completed her PhD in Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle in 2016. Riona recently expanded her creative arts career as the Deaf Arts Coordinator with Accessible Arts and Co-facilitator of the Artist Run Initiative Inside Out in Maitland 2016-2018. Sharing her time between Sydney and the Hunter region, she is a strong advocate for inclusive, cultural accessible arts. Riona was born Deaf, she grew up surrounded by nature and takes inspiration from the environment in her creative practice. Being Deaf brings its own unique isolation, discrimination, different communication methods and attitudes, so Riona sees things visually and differently. However, deafness is not a main identifying part of her, nor is it a defining disability for Riona, but rather an aspect of a multifaceted part of her being. Art is her language. Riona uses arts as a visual communicative language working with mixed media, illustration, photography, typographic design, painting, poetry and writing.

Riona Tindal, Leaf Utopia study - detail from Moss Garden, watercolour and pencil on timber board

In both her art practice and conservation advocacy, Riona seeks out the impact of climate change in different landscapes, and these firsthand experiences have a profound effect on her arts practice. In 2018 Riona travelled solo through central Australia for two months, experiencing the diverse uniqueness of the landscape, reflecting on the symbolic shapes and structures that show the beauty of the earth that is slowly being destroyed or transmuted to serve humanity’s needs. Riona is expanding and exploring traditional and contemporary arts practice, with science, seeking to combine the three as a trinity in the arts. Conservation through science and arts where she hopes to educate the audience around our rapidly vanishing earth, climate change, species driven to extinction, communicating through creative media where it can immediately capture the audience and engage. 

Riona Tindal, Scientific illustration of a frog, 2016, stippling ink, 27 x 21.9 cm

During my residency I plan to develop poetry, narrative storytelling and imbedding poetry working on watercolour sheets and recycled timber boards to explore pathways that make connections and move between the rigidity of science into storytelling and communicative visual language.

You can see more of Riona's work on Instagram @riorioartist