Sheila Pratschke is the Director of the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland.
I attended my first Res Artis International Conference in Helsinki in 2002, just a year after I was appointed Director of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig. It was a wonderful experience for many reasons but perhaps the most fruitful long-term outcome was the series of international exchanges we developed as a result. I do not believe that these could have evolved so successfully without being underpinned by the personal contacts, even friendships, which have flourished ever since.
I had already visited Heiner Riepel in Schwandorf and we have exchanged two artists from each side for the past four years. An ongoing collaboration, including concerts in both countries, has developed between composers Norbert Vollath and Mary Keane – he on saxophone and she on piano. We already had a connection with the VCCA which continues, augmented in the US by two other exchange agreements with Dennis O’Leary in Djerassi, and with the Blue Mountain Center where Ben Strader presides over what is probably the place most like Annaghmakerrig amongst our partners. Spain, too, is within the network with Irish artists having a choice between Can Serrat near Barcelona, Farrera in the high Pyrenees and Fundacion Valparaiso in Murcia. We have a double connection with Australia: an exchange agreement with Varuna Writers’ Retreat and the Australia Council funds two six-week residencies in Annaghmakerrig each year.
These relationships were cemented during the Sydney/Melbourne International Conference in 2002, a memorable event. The Sanskriti Foundation near Delhi is yet another connection made through meeting O P Jain of Res Artis. Our bursaries cover only residency and artists must look elsewhere for funding for travel and incidental costs; happily our Arts Councils are supportive.
For us here at Annaghmakerrig the presence of exchange artists has been enriching, stimulating and most welcome. We cater for practitioners in all artforms and have welcomed writers, musicians, visual artists, dancers and so on from all corners of the world. We benefit from the encounter with other cultures, languages and ‘ways of seeing’. They, hopefully, meet a varied and interesting cross-section of the Irish artistic community. And Irish artists have unique opportunities to work in new countries and fresh environments – benefits all round!
I am committed to continuing these international contacts and open to approaches from potential new partners within Res Artis.
Tyrone Guthrie Centre