Glass artist Graeme Hitchcock, from Waikanae, has secured a coveted place in a month-long artist residency at the Arteles Creative Center in Finland.
His residency, at one of the largest and most international residency centres in Scandinavia, happens in January.
The theme of the winter residency programme is Silence Awareness Existence where participants will spend 1-2 days per week in silence with limited internet access and scheduled meditation hours in the heart of the Northern winter.
“Leaving New Zealand in the peak of summer to anywhere from -5 to -20 degrees Celsius, with only seven hours of sunlight and a lot of silence and meditation, I’m excited to see what the results of my unleashed creativity will be.
“It’s an opportunity that, at the age of 70, I never thought I’d get.”
Arteles Creative Center, which used to be a school, is located in the extraordinary landscape of Hämeenkyrö, Finland.
“It’s almost two and a half hours north of Helsinki.”
I think one of the greatest gifts a person can have is to sit and purr like a cat.
The centre hosts more than 120 selected international artists and creative professionals per year.
Hitchcock’s interest in the residency was piqued when a friend suggested it to him.
“He said the residency would suit me so I looked it up and applied. I’m really excited.”
It appealed for various reasons.
“Everyone wants to do an artist residency if they’re an artist, being in Scandinavia appealed, and the meditation aspect, and you don’t have to go there with any preconceived ideas. You allow your natural creativity to emerge.”
Hitchcock will join 13 other artists in the residency where they will have their own room and work space.
The main challenge is that he has to bring his own art supplies so he won’t be using his preferred glass medium.
“They’ve given the address of two art shops so I’ll select what I think I’ll need and it will be delivered to the centre.”
He’s looking forward to not working, or thinking, about using glass.
“I’ve always wanted to paint a big painting so I think I’ll just order some canvas and paint — with some scissors so I can make it big or small.”
Hitchcock is looking forward to the meditation aspect too.
“I’ve done several vipassana courses which are 10-day silent retreats where there’s no talking, no reading, no writing.
“I don’t believe people are silent enough.
“People are too busy occupying themselves, entertaining themselves.
“I think one of the greatest gifts a person can have is to sit and purr like a cat.
“If you can do that, you’ve reached a good spot.”
Hitchcock has been a fulltime artist since about 2005.
“It wasn’t until I was about 50 that I got serious.
“I always knew that I wanted to be an artist but work takes over, mortgage takes over ...
“It was the best thing for me because starting off, and to earn a living as an artist, is very difficult.
“It’s better to set yourself up and then do it.”
He sells his artwork direct as well as via a number of galleries around the country.