The Glyndebourne Residency
In 2013 we were again in the privileged position to be working with Glyndebourne Festival Opera and two students have been awarded a residency at this world class opera house, found on our doorstep in the countryside outside Lewes in East Sussex.
The six operas being performed for 2013 were:
- Billy Budd by Benjamin Britten
- Le nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti
- Ariadne auf Naxos by RichardStrauss
- Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi
- Hippolyte and Aricie by Jean-Philippe Rameau
An exhibition of the work completed during the residency, and work that arises from the residency, was exhibited on the Glyndebourne Virtual Gallery during the Tour .
From recent residents
Over the summer of 2013 I was invited to be an artist in residence at Glyndebourne Opera House along with one of my fellow painting students from the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton. We spent over two months in the grounds of Glyndebourne exploring the fascinating productions, sets, props, music and gardens. Working from our studio everyday became very surreal; overhearing singers practicing, watching rehearsals for performances and every evening seeing the fleet of elegantly dressed men and woman descend upon the grounds for their night at the opera. The shows that were running at the time of our residency were: Ariadne Auf Naxos by Richard Strauss, Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi, Le Nozze Di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti and Billy Budd by Benjamin Britten, all of which, along with our idillic surroundings, provided endless inspiration for our work.The productions at Glyndebourne have all had a profound effect on me. Although I chose to study painting, music is a big part of my life – I play clarinet in the University of Sussex orchestra, and I sing in the choir. So it has been fascinating to see art being made in response to music, to experience first hand and close up, the collaboration between music and visuality, and how they affect each other.
The sets and props have been a big influence, particularly Don Pasquale; the pale colours and floral patterns running through the wallpaper and furniture have inspired my paintings endlessly. Backstage is breathtaking in itself: props and sets are disjointed when out of context from their performances, juxtaposed and interlinked with each other, creating something strange and curious and beautiful to draw.
The quietness of Glyndebourne, away from the rehearsals and performances, has also had a great impact in how I draw and paint. I have become more caring in the nuances of my practice; how the dynamic of two colours work together for example, and I now seem to have a much greater depth of concentration.
Towards the end of our residency, Alice Walter (the other student which was completing the Artist Residency) and I decided to host an exhibition of our work in our studio. This was a great experience for us both as neither of us had put on our own show before. We organised our publicity and private view as well as the curation and hanging of the show. We had lots of positive feedback from everyone at Glyndebourne and it was really exciting to look back at all our work and what we had achieved.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Glyndebourne opera house and the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton for allowing me to take part in this residency. It has been hugely influential in my development as an artist, and allows me to enter the final year of my course with a new found sense of both accomplishment and ambition.Alice Walter
To have a studio within the grounds of Glyndebourne Opera House and be able to go to the rehearsals and performances for almost a whole opera season was an incredibly enjoyable and surreal experience. Before starting the residency I was unaware of the madness and eccentricity of the world of opera; now I know of its endlessly eclectic, ever changing and creative nature.
Glyndebourne Opera House feels like an island, tucked away from any bristling towns or cities. It is very self-sufficient – it has its own water reservoir, wind turbine and supply of fruit and vegetables- as well the incredible diversity of plants in the garden. Most of the opera singers and performers get accommodation in the nearby town of Lewes during the summer season, which when combined with the setting of Glyndebourne leads to an almost holiday atmosphere.
The gardeners were incredibly welcoming and helpful, as were the stage team. Rebecca, who organised our residency, was very supportive and as a result we got involved with events such a charity picnic that was really lovely, and talking to a visiting school about our work.
My work was a little overwhelmed at first; there were so many things to take in that I felt I had to draw everything, and so my practice changed greatly as a result. When I got comfortable with the setting it was really about slowing things down and picking and choosing from a vast array of different feelings, visual imagery and ideas in general, as well as deciding if previous ways of working before the residency were still relevant. After a while it became apparent that the residency had stopped me from following my previous path that seemed to be drawing me into a narrower way of painting - it made me question everything in my practice.
I continued my peripheral rather than literal way of painting, wanting to encompass a segment of experience rather than a visual surface detail, whilst enjoying painting more because instead of searching for ideas I was overloaded with them and could really choose what was best for my work. Opera is a very vibrant, loud art form, whereas my art can be very quiet. But when I became more familiar with it I realised that I didn’t have to imitate it or compete with it.
I could take from it visual gems, such as the head of a ballet costume or the composition of a stage, or ideas, ranging from a single quote to the entire concept of an opera, but if I didn’t that didn’t matter, it could just contribute towards my general experience of life that gives my work the overall feeling that it has.
Working with Hannah in our little wooden studio was really fun - we get on well and it was really nice to see both of our work develop so much as the residency went on. At the end we organised a little studio exhibition of some of the work that we’d done and it was lovely to show our friends, family and people we’d met during the residency what we’d been doing, as well as celebrate our time at Glyndebourne and say farewell. It was an amazing summer and I am incredibly grateful for having been given such a fantastic opportunity - it certainly won’t be the end of my relationship with opera.