Why These Artist Residencies Are More Important Now Than Ever

In our visually over-saturated lives, it’s more important than ever for artists to access artist residencies offering the space and time to focus solely on enriching their practice.

Gobe HQ   |   Australia


Artist residencies have been around since the early 1900s when groups of artists came together away from distractions to collectively realise their ideas. They have risen increasingly in popularity ever since and there are now thousands of residences available to artists all over the world. They can range anywhere from a one night stay at the Ace Hotel to stays up to 12 months in many programs. Some residencies require full funding to paid by the artist whilst other programs cover everything from travel to accommodation as well as offering generous stipends, equipment and studio spaces. There is often also a means for artists to apply for grants to cover any fees they will need to afford their residencies. Hopefully, you’re already thinking; Why haven’t I already applied for 43 artists residencies this week? Somebody is going to support me mentally and financially to do nothing but work on my practice? Sign me up!

If you have a project, exhibition, photobook or any other genius creative idea that you are burning to realise and think you would benefit from dedicated time in a dedicated space to do so, these are for you.

Visual artists in current society are more bombarded with messages and content than ever before, and arguably this is at a detriment to their own practice. We are attached to our screens and consume more information, at a faster rate, than ever before. Did you know that 49,380 photographs are uploaded to Instagram every minute? Every, single, minute… and that’s just Instagram. It’s not hard to believe that this may have fundamentally changed the way that we create and consume our work. This article explores how screens have affected the way that we write, and I am of no doubt that modern technology has comparably transformed the way that we make and consume photographs. An addiction to instant gratification in the form of likes and comments, a dopamine hit in the form of a little red heart. A throwaway creative mentality. So, what exactly does this have to do with artist residencies?

A residency allows an artist to devote their entire time and energy in furthering their practice. This may or may not mean completing a new body of work, being exposed to group feedback on current work or in some cases, completing no work at all. Either way, be it research, production or abstinence, ultimately a residency allows for specifically focused time and energy on your practice.

These are just a handful of Gobe’s favourite artist residencies:


The Wapping Project Berlin

The Wapping Project Berlin. Image by former Wapping Project Berlin resident Zara Matthews

The Wapping Project Residency — Berlin

Conceived by the late and undeniably great Jules Wright, The Wapping Project houses artists in an early 20th-century building in Kreuzberg, an area known for its thriving art culture. The residency is aimed at artists in the middle of their careers and has only one requirement for successful applicants, they must complete no work at all during their 8-week stay.


The Darkroom, Ireland

Image—The Darkroom

The Darkroom – Dublin

Shoot film? Then this is probably a good residency to set your sights on. Access to a full traditional darkroom, medium and large format cameras and large Epson printers, this is residency for producing. It’s also just around the corner from the birthplace of Irish whiskey, the Bow st Jameson Distillery, it’s not clear if that is a good or a bad thing, but it’s important.


Woodstock Air Program

Image—Sophia Nahli Allison, 2018 Woodstock AIR Program participant

Woodstock AIR Program — Woodstock

Woodstock Artist Residencies offers artists of colour working in the medium of photography four to six of uninterrupted time to develop and further their practice. 24/7 access to a dark, digital lab and dedicated printers allow live-in artists to produce work at the pace and time that suits them. Running since 1999 and supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Woodstock AIR program is considered to be one of the best photography artist residencies in the world.


Skowhegan, Maine


Skowhegan — Maine

A 9-week intensive summer residency that was founded by artists, is run by artists and aims to cultivate and support artmaking in an environment without academic and marketplace pressures.


Badlands National Park Artist In Residence

Badlands National Park. Image—Jonathan Irish

Badlands National Park Artist In Residence

The Badlands AIR program was founded in 1996 and as the title suggests, the artist stays in an apartment in the Badlands National Park in Dakota during their residency. A dream opportunity for any landscape adventure photographers. Aimed at artists who are interested in interpreting the wild and wondrous landscape through their work.


Cian Oba-Smith

Image—2019 Light Work Artist-in-Residence Cian Oba-Smith

Light Work — New York

Light Work has supported over 400 photographers and visual artists since beginning in 1976. Between 12-15 artists every year stay in a furnished apartment, receive a generous stipend and spend all their time shooting, printing, scanning, working on their books or whatever magic they’re creating.


Bemis Center

Artwork—2019 Bemis Centre Artist-in-Residence Jes Fan

Bemis Centre — Omaha

Over a period of three decades, the Bemis Centre for Contemporary Arts has housed over 900 artists in its residency program. Providing a live/work studio and rich, diverse intellectual discourse in a community or artists and curators.


Swatch Art Peace Hotel

Image—Former Swatch Art Peace Hotel resident Jovanna Tosello

Swatch Art Peace Hotel Artist Residency

If you think your practice would benefit from the drive of a vibrant city at your doorstep, check out the Swatch Art Peace hotel artist residencies program in Shanghai. For three to six months of residency, you are provided with a room at the former luxury hotel, breakfast, personalised hotel stationary and a whole lot more, they even pay for your flights and visa!


Image—Lucy Art Residency

Lucy Art Residency – Kavala

If you loved the idea of working on your next project at a hotel and Shanghai is too far, Hotel Lucy is for you. Perched on the water’s edge in Kavala, Greece, the artist residencies at Hotel Lucy could almost have been plucked from a Wes Anderson screenplay. Flights, accommodation and stipends are provided and there is no requirement to produce work during your stay. You’re encouraged to read and interact with the residents of Kavala city and within 6-months of completing your residency, you must produce one piece of work to donate to the residency archive for public display. I surely don’t need to tell you any more to want to apply immediately right? Hopefully your time there is as interesting as the aforementioned screenplay.


There are thousands of artist residencies to apply for, if you’re still hungry for more, you can find a pretty comprehensive search engine here at Rivet. For information about preparation for artist residencies and advice on how to write a bonza application, you can look here and here. Thanks for reading. Bonne chance!


Feature Image—Jonathan Irish



For more places to share your photographs other than the big grid, enter these photography competitions.