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 and Helena's work at