10 month residency with VARC starting Sept 2022

Deadline: 17/04/2022  |  Published: 23/02/2022  |  Venue: VARC, Highgreen, NE48 1RP  |  City: Tarset  |  Region: Northumberland  |  Country: United Kingdom  |  Visual Arts in Rural Communities

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A unique opportunity for a UK based visual artist to develop their practice and make new works whilst immersed in a remote rural landscape and its community.

When it is:

1st September 2022 – 30th June 2023

Where it is, access and accommodation:

The residency is based in converted stable buildings, part of Highgreen Estate, set in the sparsely-populated hill-farming area of Tarset in the North Tyne.  Highgreen is remote with stunning views across the moors.  There is an immediate community of about 15 people and the hamlet of Greenhaugh with an inn is about three miles away with the village hall at Lanehead about a mile beyond that.  See https://www.tarset.co.uk/ for more about the area and this vibrant rural community.  

The local shops are in Bellingham, some 8 miles away and Newcastle is 40 miles away so the artist will need to have their own transport.   

Highgreen is made up of a collection of mid-late 19th Century buildings.  Whilst the studio and site is generally on ground level with no steps, the buildings have access limitations.  The artist’s flat is in part of a restored stable block and is accessed via a steep flight of stairs.  We realise this isn’t ideal and makes the residency unsuitable for artists who use wheelchairs or find stairs difficult to manage. 

On this occasion the opportunity is only open for artists who live and work in the UK.

What is provided:

The artist is given a free studio and private two-bedroom flat and is paid a fee of £1000 per month. Utility bills and broadband is also covered by VARC, as is an end of residency exhibition and a catalogue*. The total package for a 10-month residency would be worth over £25,000.  The artist is responsible for their own personal costs such as materials, transport, food, access needs etc.   

The residency is an opportunity of time and space for artists to develop their practice in a very rural context, but there is an expectation that the artist will spend 20 days during the residency period planning, preparing and undertaking engagement with the community and visiting groups.

The residency is supported by a part time member of staff and an appropriate mentor who will be able to visit the artist twice during the residency if it’s felt the artist will benefit from this.  

*30 copies will be given to the artist.

Selection criteria are: 

• quality and strength of work 

• evidence of previous engagement with exhibiting work, arts projects or residencies

• conviction of benefit of the residency to the artist’s practice 

• commitment to living at Highgreen

• experience of and enthusiasm for, working with people

Expectations are that:

• The artist will live and work for the period at Highgreen.  

• The artist will spend 20 days during the residency preparing and delivering an engagement programme with the public and with community groups (planned by VARC staff in consultation with the artist).  This could include work with young people with special educational needs, an area strongly supported by VARC.

• The artist will produce a body of work for an end of residency exhibition held at Highgreen.

• Because of the remoteness of the location the artist needs to have their own transport,

• The artist is expected to share their experience and process on social media or supply information if not a user

• The artist will feed into an evaluation process.


The deadline for applications is midnight 17th April.

Interviews of shortlisted artists will be held by zoom and are likley to be week commencing 2nd May.  

Visual Arts in Rural Communities is a registered charity who has been running an artist residency programme for the past 21 years.  See www.varc.org.uk. for more information.


Contact the curator
Who is eligible for this opportunity?
Artists from all backgrounds and diversity living in the UK. Students are not eligible to apply although we do accept applications from PhD students.
When is the deadline?
Midnight 17th April 2022. Interviews likely to be week commencing 2nd May.
How many works can I submit?
8 images max plus any links to videos/audio if relevant and a website if you have one.
When is the delivery date?
The residency starts on 1st September 2022 and ends 30th June 2023
How much does it cost?
The artist pays nothing but needs to cover his/her own personal expenses: travel, food, materials and any support costs.
Are there payments to artists?
Yes, there is £10,000 fee to the artist paid in monthly instalments of £1000. There are expenses paid to cover petrol for delivering/planning workshops and materials for engagement are paid for the artist (within budget). The artist residency fees are augmented by provision of free studio space, living accommodation (with utility bills paid and broadband provided) exhibition and catalogue. The residency fees of £10,000 are based on the expectation that artists will spend 20 days during the residency period, planning and delivering workshops. The remainder of the artist's residency time is for them to develop their artwork in a beautiful rural location, distraction free.
Is there a private view / opening?
There will be an exhibition weekend at the end of the residency period.
Does the location have disabled access?
Whilst the site as a whole and the studio is on ground level the doors are old and living accommodation does have stairs that, sadly, would exclude wheelchair users or those with limited mobility.
What publicity will be provided as part of the opportunity?
The exhibition will be promoted to members of the public and to the media by a VARC member of staff.
Do I need to be present?
Yes; the artist is expected to live on site.
What are the selection criteria?
Selection criteria are:
• Quality and strength of work
• Evidence of previous engagement with exhibiting work, arts projects or residencies
• conviction of benefit of the residency to the artist's practice and development
• commitment to living at Highgreen for the duration of the residency
• experience of and enthusiasm for, working with people

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