Lighthouse Arts Residency

Recently I completed my first ever Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program thanks to Lighthouse Arts, an arts organisation supporting and showcasing the talented creative community we have here in Newcastle, which is located on Nobbys-Whibayganba Headland (Nobby's Lighthouse). I was fortunate enough to be offered a place in their second-round dedicated to supporting Newcastle creatives, which took place from March to April this year.


I was an AiR in a six-week block, which meant that I attended the site one day a week for six weeks, between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Thankfully, the program offered quite a bit of flexibility when booking studio spaces. You didn't have to do the same day every week, which made working around previous commitments much easier. In addition, AiR bookings were limited to a maximum of three premium studio space days during their stay so that everyone got a turn in the rooms with the best views. The online booking system also made it a breeze to see which rooms were free when locking in residency dates.


There are two cottages containing the studio spaces (Cottages 2 & 3), with each cottage holding six studio rooms with a desk, chair, power point, and WIFI access. Within these cottages were three premium studio spaces, which offered better views of the ocean and/or harbour. The main cottage (Cottage 1) contained the Arts Store, which is open on weekends, as well as a gallery space for exhibitions, and a kitchen for AiRs to access hot water, the microwave and a fridge.


In addition to the residency program, Lighthouse Arts is a place for local creatives to host events throughout the year, such as exhibitions and gigs. On weekends and public holidays. between 8am and 4pm, the Arts Trade Store is open to the public and features artworks, books, and other amazing creations created by dozens of local creatives. (Local creatives can also apply to have their work sold here by completing an EOI here).


So what did I get up to during my residency? Read on.


Day 1 Cottage 3, Studio 1

I arrived promptly just before 10am for our Induction which covered WH&S, a tour of the site, as well as a history lesson about Nobbys-Whibayganba Headland. Around 10:30am our residencies began, so I headed to Cottage 3, Studio 1, a premium studio space that overlooked the ocean through two windows.


I had one of the windows open so that I could hear the ocean roaring, as well as feel the sea breeze on my skin. I found it absolutely inspirational. So much so that in this session, I successfully completed a whole new chapter for my WIP that really changed the character dynamic for the protagonist and her love interest (for the better). This began my experiment with transforming my sweet romance into a spicy one. And as I was heading off to my writing retreat the next day, it was the perfect kick-start I needed to embrace this new perspective on the narrative.

Day 2 Cottage 3, Studio 2

Of course, I arrived a little later than I'd planned for my second day of residency, sadly missing the buggy ride up the steep hill to the top. However, as I'd just arrived back in town the day before from my writing retreat, I was on a roll working on this project and was ready to smash out some more writing progress for the day. Overall it was another productive session, this time in another premium studio space - Cottage 3, Studio 2. This room only had one window, but it faced the same direction as the view I obsessed over the week prior.


Day 3 Cottage 3, Studio 1

This day I was back in Cottage 3, Studio 1 for my final premium studio space booking. Unfortunately, it was a rainy one, which meant my window remained closed for most of the day once the rain rolled in. However, I've always been one to find rainy days inspirational for writing and productivity, so I didn't mind all that much. In fact, by the end of the day most of the AiR's had left to beat the bad weather, so I had the entire cottage to myself for a few hours.


Day 4 Cottage 3, Studio 6

Productivity wise, it wasn't the greatest day for me. With the new direction I'd taken the narrative, it's been a balancing act of working out what can be reworked and kept, and what has to completely go. As much I really liked the scene I'd previously written, it no longer worked with the new narrative direction, and I struggled to find a solution no matter the re-writes I did. Basically, I ended the session killing my darlings as they say, and axed the entire chapter by throwing it in the bin. Honestly, while I hated the time I'd lost that day, I know the story is much strong and better without it.


It was also my first day in first day in a non-premium studio space! While I missed my ocean view, it honestly wasn't that bad. I had heaps of natural lighting with windows overlooking the courtyards. This studio space in particular was actually located near the main door, however, most AiRs were very quiet when walking past to not disturb you.

Day 5 Cottage 3, Studio 6

On my second-last day as an AiR, I was shocked - the trend of the day was getting to meet other creatives in person who I already knew virtually online from social media. It was pretty freaking cool, I have to admit, and such a highlight to the experience and my day.


Writing-wise, I was hooked on writing a *spicy* scene. (Fun fact: I'm still working on this scene! The perfectionist in me isn't happy with it just yet, and it really needs to hit the right spot due to the characters' relationship).

Day 6 Cottage 2, Studio 4

Because someone dropped out the day I attended, I had the opportunity to relocate to another studio desk. While I definitely favour ocean views, I can't argue that this harbour view was also stunning to work with and has me reconsidering exploring more of Cottage 2 should I be lucky enough to return in the future. On this day not only did I make some more progress on that *spicy* scene I need to perfect, but I also allowed myself the time to mingle with my fellow AiRs at lunchtime.


Overall, I highly recommend the residency program to any creatives seeking an AiR experience. Applications for one-week or six-week residency blocks are now open for the rest of 2022, with the residency program now also open to artists outside of Newcastle! Learn more about the opportunity here.


 

Lighthouse Arts Newcastle • Artist in Residence • Round Two Six-Week Program • March-April 2022

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