Residencies: More than a place for artists to work

As an artist, it can be difficult to fund projects and gather resources to continue your work. It could be achieved through various levels of support through different partners, or working separate jobs to fund your project. This is why the development of residencies and programmes that support artists are so important. They help artists work on projects, provide them with space to develop their work – but also provide the funders with value, through ways of public spaces.

The value of supporting the arts
Julian Priest initially began working at the Thomas King Observatory in 2017, undertaking some satellite observations in the dome. Since then, Space Place at Carter Observatory and Julian decided to develop the residency idea together. Bringing his project ‘The Weight of Information 2.0’ to the observatory has kick started the residency, and introduced a focus on Art-Science works for future residencies.

Funding projects is always a challenge, so having not only financial support for this project, thanks to the Wellington City Council Public Art Fund, but also a place to work in is incredibly valuable for him to be able to continue his work.

“As an artist it is incredibly valuable to be supported.”
- Julian Priest

Apart from the practical value of having a space to work in, the location of the residency space is an inspiring and interesting area to work in. The observatory is set in the midst of the historic scientific facilities, the botanic gardens and all the surrounding institutions and businesses. The area is a distinctly public place and has a huge number of visitors, Julian hopes that as the residency becomes further established, artists will be able to develop compelling projects that create a network of connections to engage the public.

Introducing Art-Science to Wellington
Julian’s residency at the Thomas King Observatory is being used as the first test for future Art-Science projects, which will hopefully lead to future projects being developed and created in the space. Getting this residency up and running as well as developing and showcasing his project, is a major part of his time there – and hopes that by introducing some experimental Art-Science projects to both Space Place and the wider Pukehinau area, will add another dimension to the programme and create some new directions and long term opportunities for Art-Science in Wellington in the future.

About the project
The Weight of Information is a satellite based artwork first launched in 2014 and scheduled for version 2.0 later this year. Sometime in the second half of 2018 a tiny pico satellite 2cm across will be launched into low earth orbit.

The TWOi 2.0 satellite is conceived as a tragic hero who has made it into the heavens only to be pulled back down to earth by gravity. TWOi 2.0 collects information from its sensors and immediately deletes it, in an attempt to ascend by forgetting.

In the inaugural Art-Science residency at the Thomas King Observatory, the observatory will be transformed into a public ground station to track the satellite's progress in a series of public events.

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