Scotland / Japan Residency: 'An opportunity for artists to develop their practice and allow for the possibility of new perspectives'

Scotland / Japan Residency: 'An opportunity for artists to develop their practice and allow for the possibility of new perspectives'

Hospitalfield residency / credit: Cicely Farrer

Residency programme delivered by Hospitalfield, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and Cove Park celebrates collaboration between Scottish and Japanese artists

Delivered in Scotland by Hospitalfield near Arbroath, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and Cove Park in Argyll & Bute, the Scotland / Japan Residency programme is a series of exchanges between Scottish and Japanese artists, which seeks to celebrate both the British Council's UK/Japan Season of Culture 2019/2020 and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. With three Japanese organisations also involved – AIT, ARCUS and Tokyo Arts, and TOKAS (Tokyo Arts and Space) – as pairs with their Scottish counterparts, the residencies and their resulting exhibitions have been ongoing, and will continue throughout 2020.

'The project developed from discussions between the three Scottish organisations about collaboration and the potential of working together to deliver larger scale projects that are interconnected and nationwide,' says Dan Brown, who is curating Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop's part in proceedings. 'Residencies are a key element of all three organisations' programmes, and the idea of a consortium of Scottish organisations with this focus seemed to be a way to consolidate a system of mutual support and cooperation between us. To date the project has been supported by the British Council, Creative Scotland, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and British Sasakawa Foundation.'

'This programme is an opportunity for artists to develop their practice, develop a particular project and allow for the possibility of new perspectives and approaches in their work,' says Cicely Farrer, programme and communications manager at Hospitalfield, which is paired with ARCUS. 'It's been really informative and fun getting to know the people doing similar roles in other organisations and learning the different ways we shape residency programmes.'

In September 2018, artists Kazuya Takagawa and Natsumi Aoyagi visited Hospitalfield in residency, while in February 2019, independent curator Lesley Young travelled to Japan to be in residence at ARCUS Project in Ibaraki, where she undertook research and met with artists and Scotland / Japan Residency Exchange Programme partners at TOKAS and AIT. In September last year, sound artist Nao Nishihara came to Hospitalfield and created two performance pieces in the historic rooms of the house, while also meeting other artists from Scotland, London, Berlin, Kiev and Rotterdam during Hospitalfield's Autumn Residency.

Scotland / Japan Residency: 'An opportunity for artists to develop their practice and allow for the possibility of new perspectives'

Nao Nishihara during his residency at Hospitalfield / credit: Cicely Farrer

At the same time, Tomoko Sato – whose research focuses on storytelling through lecture performance – undertook research in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London while based at Hospitalfield, and worked on the translation of her performance Shiro-Kitsune: A Hidden Song. In February, Glasgow-based artist Emmie McLuskey will visit ARCUS Project Ibaraki, where she will research a project titled Between Bodies, working with an English-to-Japanese translator and a local aikido professional in order to build on her interest in how people communicate and are understood by each other.

Cove Park, meanwhile, had already undertaken a similar residency programme with Arts Initiative Tokyo a decade ago. 'One of the reasons we were keen to work with artists and organisations in Japan is the quality of work the artists are producing, the interest in process and craft, and the importance given to both traditional and contemporary technologies,' says Alexia Holt, associate director at Cove Park. 'To date, we've supported residencies (as part of Scotland / Japan) for Florence Dwyer and Stacey Hunter at Arts Initiative Tokyo and Creative Residencies Arita, and we hosted the Japanese artist Nobuko Tsuchiya in the summer of this year.

'All of these residencies have enabled the artists to produce new work, and exhibitions of this work have happened already; Nobuko's was seen at a recent show in Paris, for example. Florence's work was inspired directly by traditional Japanese approaches in ceramics, working alongside leading technicians at the porcelain centre, while Nobuko's work responded to the experience of working within a Scottish landscape, incorporating natural elements directly into her work.'

While Young (also Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop's programme coordinator) was conducting her research trip to Japan, her organisation in return welcomed Yuki Kondo, Director of TOKAS, and her colleague Kaori Otake in September, while an open call for Scotland-based artists to apply for a residency at TOKAS resulted in the selection of Adam Lewis-Jacob from the shortlist. Based in Glasgow and with work already shown in London, India and South Korea, Lewis-Jacob will travel to Japan in May and spend two months in residence, while the as-yet unannounced Japanese artist will arrive at ESW in April.

'It's been a real learning experience for us, working with both our peers in Cove Park and Hospitalfield, and the Japanese organisers,' says Brown. 'We've learned a lot about the differences in ways of working, but also the commitment which we all have to making great development opportunities for artists, and how we deal with the wider public around our organisations. The initial project runs until the end of 2020, although the partners will look to continue this exchange beyond this date, depending on future funding.'

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