Two Residencies in Val David

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From June 25 to July 8, 2012, I did a two week residency at Atelier de l’Île printmaking studio.  Located in the heart of Val David, in the Laurentians, the studio is a joy to work in.  It is infused by a warm and peaceful atmosphere, not only due to its idyllic natural setting but also because of the artists who work there.  It also helps that the studio is in ship shape, thanks to the workshop’s efficient technicians, Olga Inés Magnano and Paul Ballard.  Everything has a place, and as my mother says, that is the key to keeping organized.

 

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The studio is equipped for intaglio, silk screen, lithography, photo etching, photographic and digital processes, and paper making.  There is also a small gallery upon entering the studio.

 

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Atelier de l’Île got its name because when it originally opened in 1975, it was located on a small island on the Rivière du nord. It has been in its present location on Dufresne Street in Val David since 1987. Founded by Michel Tremblay, it was modelled after S.W. Hayter’s  Atelier 17, in Paris.  Artists, writers, paper makers, poets, printers and book makers worked together at Atelier de l’Île on creative projects, most notably on artists’ books.

 

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It seems fitting that I created an artists’ book during my residency. When I started working, I realized what a delicate balance and interconnection there is between life and art.  My book consists of stories and prints based on my impressions of Val David.  My studio work was nourished by hands on experience in and around the village.

 

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I am lucky enough to have gotten a second residency to complement the first.  While I work at Atelier de l’Île I was staying at the International Writers’ and Artists’ Residency, also in Val David.  The Centre is directed by Flavia Cosma, Romania-born Canadian poet, author and translator. This is where I  slept, ate and wrote.  Nestled in a pine  forest with a sweeping view of the Laurentian mountains, this is an ideal spot to empty one’s head and fill the page.

 

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Flavia built this spacious, three-story house nine years ago.  She designed it so that it would be conducive to creative retreats.  When I was in my third floor bedroom, I had the impression that I was alone in the house.  I felt at peace at my desk, typing away as birds sang.  Flavia explained that the house was built over an immense rock and that perhaps the electromagnetic energy emanating from the rock is responsible for this zen-like sensation.  Private writing time was balanced by shared meals at suppertime with Flavia and another artist from California, presently doing a residency.

 

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My two weeks proved to be productive.  I wrote the rough drafts of eight stories and created eight collagraph prints to accompany my texts.  I spent my second week printing proofs of my images. I worked seven days a week, around the clock, only taking time off for my precious swimming breaks.

 

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I wrapped up my residencies with a conference, at Atelier de l’Île.  The event was well attended with Madame Nicole Davidson, Val David’s mayor and staunch supporter of the arts, local and Montreal artists, writers and interested folk. I displayed original prints and artists’ books, gave a digital presentation of my work through the years, connecting my images to my narrative approach and to my writing.  After a break, I presented my residency project and gave a demonstration of how to print a collagraph.  My public was warm and it was a pleasure sharing my experience.

 

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These two weeks in Val David will be forever etched in my memory as one of the high points in my career.  Not only did I plant the seeds of a new artists’ book but I forged new connections in this charming artist’s village known as Val David.

 

Talleen Hacikyan

 

 

 

 

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