Back in February my lovely hubby gave me the best present ever! In just two days time I’ll pack my bags and set off for the South of France, for my five day micro-residency at the idyllic Studio Faire!

Life is a crazy balancing act these days, lots of plates spinning all the time. Between multiple day-jobs and family life,  there is little time, or mental energy, to spare for contemplation, development, and just taking a step back to re-evaluate every now and again. When I do manage to carve out some studio time it has to be productive, nose to the grindstone, make-make-make; deadlines to meet, orders to pack, delivery notes to write, invoices to chase… The life of a ‘creative’ feels very far from ‘creative’ a lot of the time!

Make no mistake, I love my girls, they are amazing and unique, but the gift of solitude, time, and space, is just what the doctor ordered. Five whole days away from the mental load, not carrying around a schedule in my head of who needs to be picked up, dropped off, school uniform, ballet uniform, homework, better feed them every now and again too, but what the actual f**** am I going to feed them because magical Mr Tesco hasn’t delivered us any food for over a week!?

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Nope, this weekend I shall soak up the sunshine in the vast and lush gardens surrounding the artists space at Studio Faire, and soak up the character of the building that is just dripping with vintage charm. I will wander to the market and be inspired by the colours of the fruit stalls piled high, and I shall gorge on the visual feast of foreign food packaging in the local supermarkets. I’ll take a stroll to the local patisserie (which is conveniently right across the road) for inspiration, and to fill my belly with indulgent treats that I will not share with sticky fingered toddlers! I’m packing my sketchbooks, and a pile of found materials that I will add to when I get there. I’ll spend the weekend collaging, sticking, drawing and painting, gathering inspiration, and I’m looking forwards to coming home with a tonne of fresh ideas ready to hit the bench in preparation for upcoming summer shows.

If you don’t know about Studio Faire, it’s a creative residency centre in the making. Creative entrepreneurs Julia and Colin have established the studio as a residency centre for visual artists, musicians, and creatives of every ilk. The 1840’s mansion house is vast and spacious, with quiet, private spaces for writing, drawing, thinking, composing… spacious communal workshops for experimentation and development, and mature shady gardens to socialise with other residents, and of course with Colin and Julia who are just the best company! But also amazing creatives themselves. Julia Douglas is a visual artist, who I collaborated with on ‘A Wee Bit of Light Relief’ back in 2010, and has now turned her hand to web design, tailored specifically to the needs of artists. Colin Usher is an amazingly talented photographer, he also runs photography classes from the ‘Usher Hall’ in the upper wing of the studio.

More on my return, but for now, here is a wee snapshot from our family visit last summer.

Photos and video by Colin Douglas Usher

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