We recently caught up with artist Mallory Allen to hear all about her experience at the Norwegian Residency “La Wayaka Current”.
What first attracted you to the Norwegian Residency “La Wayaka Current”, and could you tell us a bit more about what makes this particular residency so unique?
The location is what really stood out for me. From my research it looked like one of the most beautiful spots in the world, luckily when I arrived I wasn’t disappointed! I make a lot of work regarding the Sublime and that feeling you get when you are just completely in awe of your surroundings – so this vast and wild landscape was right up my alley.The allure of going somewhere completely different to what I am used to was also a big one. In going there I was completely pushed out of my comfort zone. Sometimes you get so stuck in your routine you need to go live on a remote island in the Arctic circle to kick start your brain and your practice.
I get the impression that Norway is a very different physical environment to Aotearoa New Zealand, could you describe this and whether it affected your work?
While it is green and coastal like NZ, the air and the light and the feel of the place give you no doubt you are somewhere entirely new and distinct. Everything seems quite extreme, cliffs jump out of the ocean in an almost imposing way, the sun is always up and some days I thought the wind would blow the house away. I felt overwhelmed with awe most of the time, which is exactly what I wanted, you feel like time and the universe just go on forever and it makes you feel really small.
Having such a concentrated period of time to develop your practice, what did you find the most rewarding part of the residency (if you can narrow it down to a single thing..!)?
In normal life you don’t really ever have that opportunity to focus solely on your work, or at least I certainly don’t. There are always distractions and obligations. On Soroya there were endless hours to just think, read, draw, sit, sleep, and walk and you end up with this sense of clarity that is pretty hard to come by. Because the sun doesn’t set, there was no sense of time and there was a freedom in that that I’ve never felt before. I ended up coming home with a lot of ideas and a lot of work.
Can you tell us a bit about the other artists who were doing the residency? From what parts of the world did they come from and what kind of work were they making?
I lived on Soroya with some amazing individuals from Mexico, USA, Australia, Singapore, and the UK. There were photographers, drawers, painters and even a data artist. We all got along really well but also worked independently and all did our own thing. Apparently we were one of the more ‘chilled’ groups they had stay, but we still got a bit silly sometimes. It was nice to see the way the environment inspired all of us in different ways.
What sort of advice would you give to other artists considering applying for an international residency?
Do it! Apply for all of them, your applications will get stronger and stronger and you’ll never know unless you try. ArtRes is a really great website to start at if you’re not sure whats out there. Make sure the location and hosts are right for you. You want to be around people that are genuinely interested in art and your development, not just the money. I knew Sofie and Victor at La Wayaka Current were on the same page as me so trusted that I would have a good experience. If you are travelling across the globe, be sure to check out what’s on nearby residency and exhibition wise. If you’re going all that way you may as well make the most of it. I didn’t do any other residencies but I did manage to catch Documenta 14 in Athens and a couple of great exhibitions in Oslo. Some people even go from residency to residency for months. Finally, keep an eye on financial grants and their deadlines. Travelling isn’t cheap so try and get all the help you can.
See more of Mallory’s work on her stellar website: http://www.malloryallen.com/
Interviewed by; Daphne Simons, October, 2017.