Elina Vainio is a Helsinki based visual artist. She worked at the Artspace residence in 2018.
I exited Sydney’s Kings Cross station very early in the morning in early June and was welcomed to the city by a flock of low-flying cockatoos, whose grating shrieks made my arrival feel really special - that these long hours of travel had really taken me someplace else. This kind of feeling of wonder towards many strange fruits of evolution in the insularity of the continent, its soft sandstone cliffs shaped by the wind and water, stayed with me until the very end of my stay.
The Artspace is staffed with great people and there were many great talks and other public programs that make it an active space for a residency. I don’t know if this is a particularly Australian character trait, but everyone was easy-going and sociable. In the other studio spaces, all along the same hallway, there were 10 artists, mostly local but some visiting, whose practices and backgrounds were varied, yet all very lovely people.
The scene or scenes of art seemed active and fascinating to me. I saw good shows, some in less conventional gallery settings, such as a car park and a private apartment. As I was quite busy preparing works for exhibitions, I wish there could have been another less production-oriented month for seeing more of the country. I’ve thought about this before and thought about it this time around, too, that it often takes a surprisingly long time to kind of tune in and get adjusted into a new context of living and working. In Sydney and at Artspace, however, it was relatively smooth thanks to the easiness of the city, location of the residency, its people, the space provided and the practical support at hand when needed.