16 Artist Residencies Around India Worth Checking Out

16 Artist Residencies Around India Worth Checking Out
Sumaiya Sayed

For the aspiring artist today, the road is long and winding — and, often, lonely. For these wandering mavericks then, artist residencies are sanctums of peace; forward-thinking spaces that are as abundant in freedom as they are in providing the required facilities and infrastructure.

While Goa takes the cake in terms of the sheer number and range of residencies that have set up base here, we’re happy to report that there are a number of residencies dotting the landscape of the country; from one nestled in the Himalayan foothills, to one preserving traditional Indian arts and culture in New Delhi, to another breathing life into the havelis in Punjab that used to be cultural hubs back in the 1930’s. From writing residencies and art residencies, to dealing with complex issues such as mental health and the employment of the highly-skilled yet unemployed Indian craftsmen, these are organisations built by dreamers, for dreamers, whose feet are firmly rooted in the ground. Working tirelessly to move towards more evolved forms of expression, but also to preserve the rich cultural heritage we draw so deeply from.

Where: Goa

When: At different points in the year.

Think Tatva, think self-inquiry and self-directed living. The only residential psychotherapy and recovery community in India, the international experiential practice focuses on mental health awareness and multifaceted self-exploration. Run by two trained psychotherapists, they also host artist residencies that work with art therapy through painting, photography, music, and other forms of creative expression.

“‘At TATVA, our therapists work towards developing an in depth understanding of our clients and their needs in individual, relationship, family and group settings,” they describe their unique work. “We encourage both our clients and our therapists, to support and enhance the practice of self-expression and emotional processing.”

Facilities: Their program includes covering complex issues such as depression, stress, conflict resolution, anxiety, isolation, attachment, resiliency, crisis counseling, addictions and dependencies, multi-cultural intervention, relationship dynamics, loss and/or grief, eating disorders and trauma; Tatva will work with you for a minimum of two weeks, upto several months, if necessary.

The ethical responsibilities they have taken up is admirable, and they aim to nurture their clients in a holistic way, respectful of confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries, while being open to collaborate with other sources of local support, like medical practitioners and health-care professionals. They also provide clients the opportunity to experience and indulge in a number of activities to enhance their healing. Tatva encourage an engagement with other residents as well as mental health professionals on-site, to create something that is truly meaningful and directed towards growth.

HG loves: how this is a centre that uses mediums including painting, photography, music, and blends them with an imaginative and intuitive approach that recognises how real human experiences unfold.

Besides these residencies, they are also present at music festivals as a comfort space for people to come to if they are tripping too hard, or just not feeling good.

[Check out more of Tatva on Facebook or get in touch with them here.]

Craft Village

Where: New Delhi

When: Year-round programs with specific durations

A one-stop destination that fosters creativity, innovation and knowledge, working towards sustainable development of Indian Crafts, Crafts Village offers various programs and workshops in craft appreciation, design, art and culture, and self exploration. The unique state-of-art infrastructure is geared towards facilitating hands-on learning of local crafts from masters and legends in their fields, link-ups with the craft community with international and national forums to promote ‘Rare Crafts of India’. International Craft Day here witnesses a massive celebration, with the exhibitions of various crafts, and a year-long event calendar should hold your imagination with its various offerings.

Craft Village holds a range of specific and general residencies; in the pipeline currently are Crafting Tales (in the disciplines of Animation, Film & Video, Communication, Graphic Designers), Crafting Textiles of India (for Textile Artist and Fashion Designers) and a General Artist Residency for other Artists/Designers.

Facilities: Includes accommodation, meals, state-of-the-art, fully-equipped working studios (350 sq.ft. — 500 sq. ft. ), office spaces, a presentation room and a mini amphitheater, for projection or open performances. Other diverse spaces include a Craft Library, an open house cafe, and ample space for Art Exhibitions or Research/Documentation on special subjects, with their Glass studio displaying work ranging from Paintings, Sculptures, Textiles, Ceramic/Pottery or furniture.

HG loves: How they are addressing the perplexing dilemma of highly-skilled Indian craftsmen struggling to make a livelihood, forced by dire circumstances to take up low-paying, unskilled work in urban areas. This is an organisation working actively and effectively to give them the platform and credit they truly deserve.

Where: Kalga, Himachal Pradesh

When: A one-month residency once a year, usually around September

10 Artists x 10 Disciplines — KYTA is the catalyst blending these into an experimental collaborative residency program set in the breathtaking Himalayan village, Kalga, in Himachal Pradesh, where marijuana grows wild and giant deodar and fir trees dot the landscape. Delving deep into the intersection of art, travel, living, culture and expression, the residency invites 10 artists from from varying disciplines and nationalities every year to produce an artistic creation within a certain time period.

The third annual edition marked the beginning of Kalga’s own private art collection spread over the Himalayan village, besides the installations and small-scale exhibitions within its building. To give you an idea of its sprawling range, the intersecting practices that have been involved in past editions include visual art, sound, music, film, architecture, performance arts, sculpture, installation, theatre, science, interaction design, dance, new media, writing, electronics and photography; parallely, visiting artists for shorter periods in both editions have hailed from fields as varied as physics, intellectual property rights, street art, fashion design, illustration, painting and mixology. Both editions were concluded with a showcase of the KYTA experience with screenings, performances and exhibitions in New Delhi, India, and eventually showcasing the final creations in different parts of the world.

Besides this, KYTA is also building associations and partnerships with artists, projects and institutions globally to expand the scope of cultural exchange with India.

Facilities: KYTA covers internal travel from New Delhi to Kalga and back to New Delhi, a private room in one of the oldest buildings in Kalga, a common studio space in Kalga, local travel and living-based offerings such as treks, etc., all meals, a minor resource budget (as discussed with the curator) and a support system to help set up artworks and experiences in various parts of the village and the region.

HG loves: The gorgeous location of this travel and art experiment, and how the tiny hamlet has become an artistic muse itself for this initiative, that explores the intricacies of how artistic practices can attract the discerning traveller, helping build sustainability without the need to modernise the village and rob it of the authenticity at its essence.

[Follow KYTA on Facebook. Also check out this Curator’s Note.]

IV. What About Art? Residency

Where: Mumbai

When: Every six months. All through the year as well for different parts of time

Visual arts practices take centrestage at the WAA international artists residency, launched in 2013. The Bandra space has evolved into an art lab where the community can converge, with artist talks and open studios being organised regularly, in addition to screenings, discussion forums, workshops and exhibitions which are hosted here to help knowledge-building of and about video and the moving image.

“We encourage proposals from curators, artists and organisations to organise programs that facilitate critical dialogue, discussion,” the company that has been steadily supporting artists, galleries, curators, collectors in ambitious art projects, says.

Moving pictures do speak more eloquently than words can sometimes; so make sure you check out their past work here.

Facilities: Administration and preparatory research, orientation to the city, 5 studios (20-25 sq mt each) available 24 hours, Internet, a shared kitchen, accommodation (2 bedrooms) in a flat 5 mins from the studio, basic support for production and technical assistance, professional networking with the art community in Mumbai, and studio visits by artists, critics, curators.

HG loves: That the medium of video and moving image, a confluence of so many different art forms, is getting the recognition it truly deserves through this residency.

Sangam House

Where: Nrityagram, a village on the outskirts of Bangalore

When: Information on the 2017-2018 residency will be up in March, 2017.

From the waterman’s village, we move to the dance village Nrityagram, where India’s first modern Gurukul for Indian classical dance is located. The intention of this residency is literally to facilitate a ‘sangam’, or a confluence, between writers from all around the world, and of varying backgrounds. Creating a space in a safe, peaceful setting — a rare occurrence in the times we live in — their residency programs are designed for writers who have published to some acclaim, but not yet enjoyed substantial commercial success.

Sangam House seeks to give writers a chance to build a solid network of personal and professional relationships that can deepen their own work, and effectively widen their literary horizons.

While writers spend most of the day working by themselves, everyone gathers at 8pm in the evenings to chat about love, life, work and words. They then have lunch with the dancers and the Nrityagram community, giving them the chance to interact with other creative energies.

“We have regular evening readings of our work at Sangam House, and once a month, we do a more public reading in the city. Life is quiet at Sangam House, even with three lovely dogs, a cat or two, many singing birds and a persistent crow.”

Facilities: Sangam House writers have their own space within this community, at Kula, an independent 8-roomed residential facility.

Where: Goa

When: All through the year.

The Vaayu Vision Collective is an extension of Vaayu Waterman’s Village — based on the waterman who, like a fish or a dolphin, cannot exist without the ocean —and embodies the gallery, studio, and arts community within the larger Vaayu Village located in Ashwem, Goa. Vaayu supports a lifestyle comprised of water sport adventures, eco-consciousness, creativity, and fun.

Crafting a culturally unique, healthy, and inspirational experience for the Artist Residents, these watermen and waterwomen are co-creating a community for the visionary arts that will nurture the creative and professional pursuits of the Artists. Co-founders Rahul Malaney and Jill Fergusson make this possible in a space that is relaxed while being driven, and a thought that Rahul says is always at the back of his mind is a Terence Mckenna quote, “Nature is the greatest visible engine of creativity.”

The Vaayu Vision Collective residency is best suited for visionary painters and drawers, street artists, video sculpture artists, and installation artists that use natural materials, in keeping with their CSR work towards sustainability; aspiring artists should bear in mind that mediums that are not well-suited to their outdoor gallery and environmental context are photography, computer designed art, dance, performance art, and conceptual art.

Facilities: VVC provides the artist with a Goan style living space, utilities, kitchen, laundry machine, bathroom, drinking water, wifi, and private locker space.

Artists can make art in two open-air rooftop studios of their choice, and they also have an oceanside gallery workspace above the surf shop, as well as a rooftop oasis back at the living space nestled in a palm grove. Vaayu also provide a noise-friendly construction area equipped with a growing tool selection.

HG loves: How deeply their initiative is rooted in their personal values and love for the ocean. In exploring their own karmic calling, they have created a tasteful, laidback space filled with a jubilant freedom for kindred spirits to come, experiment and create, fuelled by some delicious food from the in-house Prana Cafe.

Where: Airport, Goa

When: All through the year.

A ‘part of a movement of artists from big cities to Goa’, the essence of HH Art Spaces is to be a space for reflection, inspiration and creation; a place where artists come together and to reflect, collaborate, experiment and share their ideas, processes, and collaborative efforts with others in the community. Currently located in a 100-year old Goan-Portuguese villa that was a heritage hotel ‘in its last life’, the artist-run place aims to function as a live and work space for the founders themselves — Romain Loustau, Madhavi Gore and Nikhil Chopra — as well as for other artists.

The co-founders opine that, “As well that some primordial aspects of this project are to implement and maintain a space of freedom to allow artists to experiment and develop their practices in relation with the body; and constantly creating dialogues between artists from everywhere.”

The space, which was established in October, 2014, doubles up as gallery spaces for Open Studio Days, exhibitions, performances and workshops. Every residency term ends with an OPEN when the house and gardens are transformed into a public exhibition that connects them with the larger community of Goa. Over their two and a half years they have hosted 45 national and international artists, curated art for festivals like Sensorium and the Serendipty Arts Festival as well as creating exhibitions and held thirteen open studi events. HH Art Spaces is quickly emerging as an important venue for the live arts in South Asia. As a collective, we consider ourselves and function as artists, mentors, facilitators and curators. HH Art Spaces is currently based in Arpora, Goa, India.

Facilities: 3 bedrooms, 7 studios, a terrace, garden in a heritage bungalow that used to be a hotel.

HG loves: That HH Art Space — like several other residencies on the list — has recognised the countless benefits of being based out of a place like Goa, and are using them in a way that they give back to the community that amiably offers them so much.

[Follow HH Art Space on Facebook.]

Khoj International Artists Association

Where: New Delhi

When: At different points in the year

A space for experimentation in the various art forms, Khoj is run for artists, and by artists. There’s been a fierce and enduring dedication from the start towards non-conformity; a distinctive journey defined by attaining with a freedom ‘from’ and responsibility ‘towards’.

Rooted in modest beginnings in 1997 as an annual workshop, Khoj has established itself as a not-for-profit, contemporary arts organisation based in Delhi which provides a financial, physical and intellectual space for artists through its various programs.

It was the visionary founder of the Triangle Arts Trust, Robert Loder, who — at a time when Indian artists felt isolated and unsupported — proposed ‘the possibility for young practitioners to create an open-ended, experimental space for themselves on their own terms’. Independent of formal academic and cultural institutions, outside the constraints of the commercial gallery, it was important for an alternative space where art could be created to exist, and Khoj has strived to build exactly this; a path they’ve trod that is as distinctive, as we imagine it must have been lonely.

Today, Khoj has handcrafted an international reputation for outstanding alternative arts incubation, playing a central role in the development of experimental, interdisciplinary and critical contemporary art practice in India, constantly challenging established thinking about art.

Facilities: The Khoj building now includes exhibition spaces, artists’ studios, residents’ accommodation (3 rooms), a reference library, a media lab, a public cafe, an open-air terrace and an additional multi-purpose space that can be used for film screenings and presentations. Selected applicants/groups will receive a production budget, daily living allowance, studio space and accommodation at Khoj, as well as curatorial and administrative support to realise proposed projects, with the help of the international network Khoj has built over the years.

HG loves: The pioneering attitude of this residency, that has fought against the odds in an age where opportunities like these were scarce, and how it has evolved with time to continue the engagement of those who are inclined.

[Follow Khoj on Facebook, or write to them]

Where: Kochi, Kerala

When: Through the year.

Run by the Kochi Muzri Biennale, the Pepper House Residency programme is an international residency opportunity for artists from all disciplines to work and collaborate within a studio space situated at the Pepper House, Fort Kochi.

The 2015-2016 residency included artists such as Fine Arts graduate and Kerala Lalitakala Academy Scholarship winner Deepa K, Berlin-based artist Sabine Schründer, and documentary filmmaker Sunanda Bhat; with its ethos rooted in the idea of artistic practice being supported by two necessary extensions — public interaction, and inquiry; the Kochi Muzri Biennale team has been working tirelessly to facilitate this dialogue in a studio that’s equipped with any support the artists might need for research and production.

Facilities: Includes an extensive studio facilities (for production), the Laboratory of Visual Arts library (for research), and the Pepper House Cafe (for dialogue).

HG loves: How this residency is structured on the idea of a three-dimensional approach to creativity.

Where: Preet Nagar township, Punjab

When: September - March

Preet Nagar, often referred to as the first planned township of Punjab, was kicking up quite the creative storm of its own in the Pre-Independence era. With Gurbaksh Singh at the helm, the publication Preet Lari was founded here in 1933, with its name literally translating into ‘linked through love’.

Renowned Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu writers, artists and intellectuals would frequent the township, for it truly showcased composite Indian culture bereft of British influence, at the time. Once printed in four languages, this was a magazine that brought about a cultural revolution of its own kind within the Punjabi community settled both in India, as well as Pakistan.

While the 175-acre land eventually fell into disrepair, September of 2015 saw the journey come full circle with the fourth generation of Gurbaksh Singh ‘Preet Lari’s family beginning work on refurbishing old houses in the township from the 1930’s to recreate the vision of their forefather, and to provide a sense of community living.

“The idea of Preet Nagar was inspired by the struggle for survival that its founder Gurbaksh Singh had to go through since he was seven, when his father died,” Gurbaksh Singh’s son, Hridaypal Singh, narrates. “In all his experience at home and abroad, my father realised one thing—the value of friendship and support. This idea of a universal kinship permeated his entire vision, and became the basis for the conception of Preet Nagar.”

Here, those who are creatively inclined can come, work together and evolve, in the middle of the lush fields of Punjab.

Facilities: The ‘season time’ for this artist residency offered at Preet Nagar will begin in September and, as summers in Punjab aren’t particularly enjoyable, will wrap up in the beginning of March each year. There will be a few workshops offered in the monsoon season as well, and writers, photographers, musicians and performance artists are all welcome to come and work here, for a nominal pay per day budget that takes care of the food and housing. The team is also in the process of setting up equipment required to host ceramic and print-making artists as well in the near future.

You will be provided a room, a studio space, internet, kitchen, and all meals.

HG loves: The story behind this magical colony that has survived the ravages of time to retain its inherent essence as an incubator of dreams. One where those inclined to create can gather, collaborate and follow their true north.

[Follow Preet Nagar on Facebook.]

The Mirage

Where: Andretta, Kangra Valley, Himachal

When: May

Set in a cluster of traditional Himachali mud houses lovingly restored to a homestay with modern amenities, The Mirage is a multi-function residency hosting travellers, yoga groups and artist/acting workshops.

Andretta, the small village that was turned into a fascinating art colony by Irish actress, writer and theatre enthusiast Norah Richards over 75 years ago, grew into a thriving cultural haven for artists (ranging from painters B.C. Sanyal and Padma Shri S. Sobha Singh to Bollywood personalities like Prithviraj Kapoor, who performed there), many of whom eventually came and settled there.

Against a backdrop of jungle and bamboo groves of the Shivalik Hills, The Mirage is a heritage Himalayan homestay, and museum of handpicked Indian furniture and artefacts, with the towering snow-capped peaks of the mighty Dhauladhar range stretching far across the Kangra Valley.

Facilities: The fee is INR 32,000/- per participant, inclusive of the workshop, accommodation on a twin-sharing basis, food, laundry, etc. Discounts apply in certain criteria (groups, students, financial hardship etc.)

HG loves: That The Mirage draws from a rich history that recognised the importance of an artist residency long before it was perhaps as widely-accepted.

[Follow The Mirage on Facebook]

Where: Near Mahira & the Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh.

When: All through the year.

A commune where resident artists, craft enthusiasts and artisans can hone their talents, collaborate and conceptualise under open skies, Art Ichol is a platform for creating, sharing and promoting the creative arts, with its structure itself constructed out of scrap and recyclable material. With its name inspired by the neighbouring quaint village of Ichol, besides the Art Ichol centre, there is also ‘Amariya — The Writer’s Retreat’ and The Maihar Heritage Home.

“Our resident artists associate with us for substantial lengths of time; we all eat, work and live together like one big family,” the residency’s websites reads. “The Artists create works with us, pursue their own projects or study, assist guests with learning or making of works, and have the opportunity to know and intimately work with big names in the fraternity. They are also sent for workshops around the country.

“At Art Ichol, they can exploit the potential to conceive and develop larger-than-life ideas, with the resources and infrastructure available.”

Facilities: A bronze-casting foundry, an open air sculpture park, stone and wood carving work shop, painters’ studio, clay modeling room and art cafe. Luxury rooms in the art residency come with a fully-furnished kitchen, with car and driver facilities are available on-site; one can stay connected via the internet even in the middle of nowhere. Artists are provided with basic material and the help of an artist’s aid complimentary.

The centre is also perfect for workshops, offsite presentations, gatherings, conferences or brain storming sessions. With its specialized infrastructure and varied venues, Art Ichol makes long term and extended stays a possibility.

HG loves: The grit and determination of Founding Director Ambica Beri, whose story is extremely inspiring for all the hurdles she has overcome to create a multi-disciplinary skill centre and catalyst for fresh talent like this. The sheer number of facilities they offer in terms of infrastructure and materials, is something else that definitely deserves a shout-out.

[Follow Art Ichol on Facebook.]

XIII. Sanskriti Foundation

​Where: ­New Delhi

When: Different programs all year-around.

On a mission to revive cultural sensitivity in contemporary times, Sanskriti Foundation, established in 1978, is firmly of the belief that, “The need to create, to discover, to imagine is universal, and requires expression and - therefore - support.”

Sanskriti is dedicated to promoting, preserving and presenting the Indian traditional arts and culture, through supporting and nurturing young talents from the fields of arts, crafts and museum through Sanskriti Awards and Fellowships, providing a retreat at Sanskriti Kendra as a space for contemplation, exploration and the development of creative ideas in a supportive environment and host residency programmes for artists, writers, scholars and creative individuals. They also work to increase the appreciation of Indian traditional crafts among public through the collections at the Museum of Everyday Arts of India, Museum of Indian Terracotta and the Museum of Indian Textiles, and to develop and nurture appreciation of Indian arts and crafts through the educational programmes, cultural orientation programme and outreach activities for children and young people.

Facilities: Sanskriti Kendra provides the choice between three types of accommodation for residents, in addition to computer and internet, medical care, dining, exhibition halls and gallery spaces, library/research centre, amphitheatre, multi-purpose hall.

HG loves: The attention that this residency gives to specific mediums, with ​some fields in focus being Architecture, Ceramics, Literature, Sculpture, Textile Art and Visual Art.

[Follow Sanskriti Foundation on Facebook]

Where: Bandra West and Kala Ghoda, Mumbai

When: January 12-February 15, 2020.

As Oscar Wilde once said “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” This artist residency knows well enough to provide you with just the right aura for you to expand your horizons in; for you to transcend and pelt your every thought and emotion on to that canvas.

The Rooftop residency believes that many artists are coerced to work to uptake smaller projects due to limitations pertaining to space, rent and other costs. The rooftop residency wholeheartedly supports artwork on canvas’ that extend 120 cm (4 ft in height). It has opened it’s doors to artists with all calibers, although the creations in this programme shall revolve around canvas, paint, wood and other supplies.

With a view to immerse you in the act, grow alongside other artists and simultaneously gain new insights and perspectives; some of the sessions conducted will comprise of working alongside guest artists.

Facilities: 7 out of 10 sessions will be under the sky of a urban rooftop, facing the sea; face to face with the magnificent displays that each sunset brings. Also an additional perk is, your artwork will be featured at a group show.

XV. Roohaniyat

Where: Village Sirori, Nainital, Uttarakhand

When: All through the year

What was initially a family vacation home, is now transformed into an artist residency cradled in the foothills of Uttarakhand, in the quaint village of Sirori. Located fifteen kilometres before Nainital, this cottage boasts of a century long presence that has been aesthetically redesigned to cater to the likes of all kinds of artistry. It’s sole purpose is to capture the quintessence of the term ‘escape’. It calls upon all the artists to seek shelter amongst their artistic endeavours, segmented into different genres for artists to be completely immersed in.

This cozy cottage is accompanied with a fully equipped jam room for artists to channel and indulge in their creativity. Lose yourself to the soft strumming and the echoes of chords in a tiny yet oh, so cozy listening room. The walls of this cottage stand staunchly for those looking forward to recreate, to delve and plunge deep within their passions. Savour the marvellous glow of peachy sunsets surrounded by the wonder of fauna and fauna. Give nature a chance to be your therapist and your soul guide to unwind, de-stress and loosen up. Or simply just luxuriate yourself with self care and take this as your time off and engage in artistic endeavours.

Facilities: Situated in the woods, the peaceful aura gives you a chance to simply be one with nature and it’s forces. Alongside having different rooms allotted for it’s unique activities, this art residency remains the epitome of a creative getaway for those who yearn to break free.

[Follow Roohaniyat on Facebook]

Where: South Goa

When: different times of the year.

Nestled in South Goa between the Western Ghats of India and the Malabar Coast. This artist residencies agenda revolves around the ecological framework of the area. Their plan revolves around facilitating debates and thoroughly analysing the climate change crisis.

This multi disciplinary art residency has rooms for various arts and crafts; pertaining to the likes of sculpture, culture, music, story telling as well as self directed art. It yearns to forge a relationship with nature. It focuses on building and supporting them socially and economically, through the presence and exchange with the resident artists.

Facilities: Comprising of four residencies guided residencies these tree themed residencies are extended to the likes of those who are sculptors, installation artists, ceramists, metal workers, carpenters, festival builders, land artists, eco artists and painter. This is your turn to join hands and stand in union for a noble cause, with a mutual drive and a thirst for inclusiveness with no bounds.

[Follow Wildbiyoo on Facebook]

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