Back in the before times, February 2020, in the countryside of the Wairarapa region, not far-ish from Wellington, NZ, on our first artist residency in New Zealand, we stay in a charming cottage set in a splendid olive grove – native plant food forest with visionary owners Gaye and Michael. Our two-fold project includes creating portals in the landscape and an art+science study of eels. The Maori name for NZ is ‘world of the long clouds’, Aotearoa.
The New Zealand Pacific Studio residency program takes an innovative community-based approach. Rather than hosting artists at a physical location, NPS pairs artists with like-minded local hosts who provide housing and a willingness to show their visiting artist guests a good time, with relevant field trips, resources, hikes, gatherings, even eel petting opportunities. This brilliant spin on the residency concept sprung from necessity; when the original house place had to be sold, the organization found a way to go forward. Our hosts could not have been more lovely, generous and thoughtful- big thanks to Gaye and Michael, super activist allies to indigenous people and natural history. We learned so much!
When the world rights and travel is a thing, I encourage all my artist friends with an interest in New Zealand to check out NPS.