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Confirmation that I had been selected to be an Artist In Residence at the 20th National Open Art Exhibition came at a time when I was going through a creative block. I was avoiding all aspects of my practice and struggling to have the confidence in myself to paint. However, the Residency start date was now upon me and there was no escaping it. I slowly began to regain my creative process by focusing on preparatory work, and soon ideas began flowing out of me, with sketchbooks filling up and new painting surfaces being made. Despite this accumulation of work, the lack of painting confidence remained. It was all too apparent that I was going to have to break this psychological barrier in the most public way possible, in front of my peers celebrating the success of their work reaching the final of the National Open Art 2016.

The first day of my Residency had arrived; there was no more prep work to be done, no seeking refuge in my studio at the bottom of the garden, locking the world out. I was now exposed for anyone and everyone to watch and engage with. I found myself going into a survival mode and clung onto what I sort solace in, my work. The confidence had been restored and for the entire

day I did not stop painting or move from my new studio, the Round Red Rug, not even to refuel for lunch. I couldn’t believe what I had achieved, from having no confidence in myself to paint, to spending an entire day surrounded by strangers observing my every move. A huge sense of both relief and pride came over me that evening, and I could not wait to see what the rest of the Residency was to bring me.

Each day on the Residency brought unexpected events with new perspectives. I was able to physically show my creative processes and thoughts to the public. My work was even selling before the paint was dry. Being an AIR was giving me so much optimism for my future endeavors as an artist. I had my thoughts strengthened on preparatory work that I had previously dismissed; my drawings and collage work need to be given the same credibility as my paintings. I was absorbing all that my onlookers had to offer, subconsciously making changes to my paintings in response; at the time I thought that this wasn’t an entirely positive result, but it challenged me in to seeing things with fresh eyes preventing my work from going stale. At the end of my Residency, I was surprised by my reaction at not wanting to leave, I thought that I would be looking forward to returning to the comfort of my private studio space, however I was relishing in the challenges that being in a public arena offered and wanted to know if could push myself further.

Being an Artist In Residence with the National Open Art is an experience that gives you as much as you give it. The honor of being part of the National Open Art gave me a real insight into the commitment that the NOA team have for all artists at any stage of their career, giving them a platform to fill them with confidence to continue to create. It is the drive that the NOA team have, and the reassurance that they are there for all creative practitioners that I will take away with me from this Residency, because if I ever find myself with a creative block again I can look back on this experience and know that I can conquer it. Without the generous support and encouragement from the NOA team I’m sure the experience would have been a very different one.

For more information visit or contact Becky Rose

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