In its tenth year, the artist in residence programme at Glenfiddich distillery has been a bit of an anomaly. Running as an international residency that appears to parallel the growing foreign whisky markets, artists are fully paid to work and live around the distillery grounds just outside of Dufftown.
How the artists are chosen is all but a mystery, as this year the Canadian candidate was juried by an OCAD University panel led by Charles Reeve, Curator of Onsite at OCAD. Cho, a former OCAD graduate, was selected from a shortlist of nine artists including Deanna Bowen, Jess Dobkin, Kelly Jazvac, Nestor Kruger, Alex Morrison, Paulette Phillips, Nicholas Pye, and Laurel Woodcock. A total of 125 artists from across Canada submitted proposals, but the criteria from which they were judged remains unclear.
I first heard about the program when artist Jonathan Kaiser attended, who was then recommended by then-Walter Phillips Gallery curator, Sylvie Gilbert. Other past Canadian attendees have included Vancouver-based artists Arabella Campbell, Damian Moppett and Annie Pootoogook in her first international residency/exhibition, based on a recommendation by Reid Shier. I remember asking Kaiser about it at some point after his return, and he seemed to give a positive impression of his experiences, as the residency after all is quite well-funded, receiving close to $20,000.
This year, Helen Cho from Ajax, Ontario, but currently living and working in Berlin for the past ten years, has been running a community workshop in the main studio (see above) that will culminate in an exhibition piece by multiple contributors from in and around Dufftown. Continuing her interest in repetition and systematic breakdowns, the works on round leather pads, hand sewn based on a pattern created by Cho, reduces and reveals her artistic process into a series of easy to follow instructions for the workshop attendees.
A short tour around her studio and accommodations, and it all appears to be a pretty sweet gig, save for the drive out to Elgin for groceries and living in tourist land. Not quite the retreat atmosphere of Cove Park, and not really living in a functioning town like Huntly, this residency seems the toughest in some ways, but that’s probably why it’s also paid the best. Putting a value to the presence of working artists is undeniably the best part of this programme, and a reversal of fortunes for many who have to pay for their residencies.
Artist in Residence 2011 Group Exhibition Opening on Friday, August 12 at Glenfiddich.