I have been on tour around the world, worked on creative development processes and collaborated with amazing artists. But I can't remember an actual block of time where I was able to focus on myself as an artist and refuel for the next stage and new directions of projects.
My studio residency is for two months in Paris and being so far away from the little faraway diamond of Tasmania I needed to prepare myself for this rare time so I wouldn't waste a second. Some tips I recommend:
1. Don't forget your passport
It's definitely every travellers worst nightmare and a story to write home about, which came true for me during check-in at Brisbane airport. I was so prepared. So prepared. I saved all my important travel documents to a cloud and even photocopied my passport. I was so prepared that I didn't need to pull out my ticket until I was close to the check in - after about an hour line up. So when I did pull out my ticket and my passpor... oh dear. Where, where the hell was it? Brain racing, heart suddenly surging and then the image comes to me of the passport sitting snugly inside the printer copier. Luckily - and oh so luckily my dear dear friend who I was staying with and only nearby was able to drop it in to the airport - but boy oh boy - that experience is definitely to be avoided. So some friendly practical advice is check your passport is in your possession before you leave for the airport and make sure your friends are on standby!!
2. Pack light, very light
Realistically, two outfits will do you for a couple of weeks and a warm jacket - thickness depending on the season. And sturdy shoes, those cobbled streets really work the body. Paris has a top end range of fashion and a reasonably affordable range of clothing - I will post some fun and affordable shops soon. You will be hand washing smaller items so I encourage you to bring a stick of soap, something like Sard Wonder soap (not affiliated link) is very handy.
3. $ave $ave $ave
It is more expensive in Europe than Australia, and although there are cheap and cheerful alternatives to living inexpensively, it is highly recommended to pull together some savings to reduce anxiety and truly immerse yourself in some particular delights (blog post coming soon - my Parisian delights). I really do recommend reading into the Barefoot Investor (not affiliated link). No, you do not have to be in a couple situation to enjoy the benefits and big yes to investing in the book. It really has taken the edge off my finance anxieties and made sure I had funtime savings.
4. Learn the basic language and culture
Big fail for me here on the language part. But I have been trying! To understand the culture I have been reading into the history of Paris which helps me to understand the sites across Paris better and visualise a very enigmatic, political, raw, treacherous, intellectual and aesthetic place. Current reading is Andrew Hussey's Paris - The Secret History which I have found really interesting and an enjoyable read so far. I have been taken right back to the beginning of Paris before the Romans came and as I write, I am beginning the renaissance. It really is providing me with some leads to dig deeper into.
5. Visualise your studio time and establish a routine
Trust me, this is not woo woo. It really does help leading up to departure if you are heading somewhere into the unknown and especially if you are self directing your own studio/art residency. Whilst it will be different once you arrive and you settle into the place, visualising yourself doing particular activities that you expect or desire to experience is really just making sure your head space smoothly transitions into a new routine. It's a little different to planning research outings, this is more about establishing your state of mind and maintaining focus, especially if structure is your jam.
Do you have any top tips to share when preparing for an arts residency?
You can also follow my Paris adventures on Instagram @freeingartisticdesires and/or sign up to my newsletter.