Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity – Artist Residency November 2022
For two weeks in November I worked in the Leighton Artists Studios on the campus of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta. I was invited to bring my studio and practice to Banff and awarded the Paul D. Fleck Fellowships in the Arts Endowment which paid for my visual artist residency and stay at the Banff Centre. Having spent two weeks in the stunning location on the side of Sacred Buffalo Guardian Mountain, with some of the largest and most distinct of the Canadian Rocky Mountains surrounding the campus, I now refer to Banff Centre as the visual arts Juilliard of Canada. Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. The goal of all who work here is to inspire everyone who attends the campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential. The studios have played host to many important Canadian artist collaborations over the years including K.D Lang, Joni Mitchell, Séan McCann of Great Big Sea, and Canadian Visual Artist Brian Jungen.
The project I planned to undertake while in Banff, was to make a very large painting on loose duck canvas in my studio. The painting subject matter to be informed by the immediate area surrounding my studio and around campus. Through capturing the sights, sounds, smells and feeling of the place through video, photography, writing and exploration on foot, I worked to translate the experience of being in this place through the medium of acrylic and gouache paint on canvas. I went in with a loose plan and project proposal, which resulted in two large paintings, a diptych, communicating one visual story on canvas.
I was assigned to the Thom Studio #6, named for the architect of the studio, Ron Thom. One of 10 studios in the forested and secluded areas of the campus known as the Leighton Artists Studios. Within the walls of these studios artists of all genres work away, from writers to musicians and visual artists, this is a small village of remarkably prolific professional creatives. When I arrived to the path that circles the studios I was met with a snowstorm and white out skies. We walked in my supplies for painting, lights, photography equipment and some already finished paintings as I believe it is important to surround yourself with your previous work, if possible. This studio was made for painters with vaulted ceiling and skylights, patio and windows by a desk.
The skylights were covered in snow and added to the feeling of being in wooded silence in the snowy wilderness. The view out my desk window, a perfect winter wonderland.
I arrived on the Sunday before my residency start date and was graciously offered the opportunity to set up my studio a day early, this way Monday morning I could get to what I came for, making new work inspired by the location.
On the Monday I began two weeks in my studio. A total of 12 days in residence on campus. It was a short stay and a lot of work to make, but luckily my studio was open to me 24hrs a day. During my residency I made two large paintings each measuring 58” x 52”, also known as a diptych. These paintings are inspired by my experience of exploring the woods around my studio and the wildlife that surrounds.
I spent 7 hours a day in my studio and we took some time on the weekend to get photos at Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, North Saskatchewan River Crossing, Vermillion Lakes, Mount Norquay and Bow Lake. It was very cold, lots of snow, and I fell in love with it! Safe to say I am a snow person now.
During this residency I was taken by the silence of the forest and sounds of squirrel, raven and deer outside my door.
My studio practice includes working through my ideas using video, photography, writing and observation. As I work through my thoughts for a painting, and lay down the blueprint on canvas, I am working on telling a story about my experience and my observations. I have always felt myself an observer in a big beautiful world, letting experiences flow over me and into my brain, processing in the frontal lobe and coming out through my brush on canvas. In a larger sense I am looking to tell the stories of my Canadian experiences, each painting or series of paintings is a new chapter in this journey.
The paintings, photos, video and writing I have created during this residency will feed future work and series of paintings. Beginning with this diptych painting, titled ‘Symphony of the Forest’, I am excited to see where the material developed and gathered on this trip will affect future work.
I have created a time-lapse video of my painting process while in the Leighton Studios at Banff Centre. Watch how the paintings developed.
See more paintings by Canadian Contemporary Artist Brandy Saturley. Learn more about the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. A little known fact about the Banff Centre, the conferences hosted by the centre pay for artist residencies, along with donors, the conferences are an integral part of keeping this gem of the Canadian Art World moving forward. Now celebrating 90 years!
My time at Banff Centre exceeded my expectations from the people, to the facilities, studio and hotel. I will look forward to returning again, soon!