Table Settings brings simple, healthy and delicious suppers to Hillier, Prince Edward County farm and vineyard workers after a long day in the fields. Prepared by a volunteer kitchen brigade of artists/chefs/makers, these meals are offered with thanks and recognition of hard work during a time of COVID related social distance and physical isolation. Our menus are based on the availability of seasonal ingredients purchased from local farmers and makers and prepared in a donated Hillier vineyard kitchen. Through documentation and conversation, (stay tuned) Table Settings will also provide reflection about the insecurity issues faced by us all. Alchemy is grateful to Linda Downey and the Storehouse Foodbank (http://wellingtonfoodbank.org) and the Prince Edward County Community Foundation (https://thecountyfoundation.ca/) for its support our project.
While our traditional residency is not yet scheduled for 2021, here are some general questions and answers about life at Alchemy.
What is Alchemy?
Alchemy is an artist led residency devoted to exploring the synergy between artistic practice and the growing, cooking and sharing of locally cultivated food in a community setting. Artists focus on their own artistic practices while sharing ideas, expertise and conversation in salon style communal dinners.
Readings and discussions probe the creative intersection of food and art, and guest artists contribute to the magic and inspiration created by making and sharing art, ideas and food.
Since our first summer on Toronto Island in 2015, we are grateful to have lived, worked and shared meals with more then 70 artists from Canada, the US, Europe and Asia.
What happens at Alchemy?
A magical mix of studio time, guest artist talks, down time for yourself to both work and explore your magical surroundings. Our programming schedule is shared with participating residents during orientation.
Does everyone attending Alchemy cook? I am worried about my culinary skills being as good as everyone else’s.
Part of Alchemy’s themed programming revolves around the preparing and sharing of food in a communal setting. Please don’t worry about your culinary skills — this is about sharing good simple food and not creating a French impressionist painting on a plate. We have, over the years, learned what it takes to share our evening meals together and minimize the work to make it happen. We want to maximize the studio time people have to create and collaborate.
Is eating together part of the Residency?
Yes. Dinner is provided for the first night of our residency. Then we help you and the rest of the group coordinate shared dinners for most other nights. Dinners and the discussions that go with them are the focal point of our shared time together. Saying they are mandatory sounds harsh but if you aren’t into sharing food, then you would be better suited to another residency. There are also one or two nights when you are on your own to eat in town or stay in your studio or have dinner with a smaller group.
How do you accommodate dietary restrictions?
Food allergies and restrictions will be accommodated as best as we can – which has become pretty good over the years. We cannot guarantee nut-free facilities. There are not pets. Be prepared for a waterside setting.
Is there a formal exhibition at the end of the Residency?
Rather than a formal show, we facilitate the sharing of work between participants. A short and informal artist talk to the residency group by each participant is programmed early in the week. You will get the low down on how all this works.
Does Alchemy offer stipends or bursaries?
We hope to eventually offer grants to participating artists to lower their costs, but we're not quite there. We do write letters of support. And, we encourage Canadian artists to apply for funding from other granting sources as appropriate.
Are there other costs?
Renting a bike is optional. Your travel expenses to and from the residency are not arranged or covered. For food, we supply the basic ingredients for breakfast and most lunches including coffee and tea. Most participants choose to make, share or contribute ingredients for a special meal, pay for their own snacks and wine.
What if I have to leave early or arrive late?
We ask participating artists to be sure they can commit to being present for the entire residency.
Is it fancy?
No. Alchemy strives to maintain a very relaxed atmosphere-- one in which creative people can both work hard and relax.
Does Alchemy provide sheets, towels, etc.?
Yes. We provide sheets and towels. Please bring your own beach towels.
Does Alchemy provide laundry service?
No. There are laundry facilities near by.
Does the Residency provide art supplies?
Alchemy is strictly a bring your own affair. There is no local art supply shop. Be prepared and bring your own supplies. We provide the space, and a good size work table.
What about Internet access?
There is limited Wi-Fi.
Can I bring my spouse/partner/ studio mate/small child/ pet?
We want you to focus on your work and the programming that has been designed especially for participants. Overnight guests are not part of the program. You may invite a day guest as long as the work of your house and studio mates are not disrupted. Programmed dinners usually cannot accommodate day guests.
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All photos courtesy of Donna Greenstein, Peggy Taylor Reid, J. Pierre, and Tonia Di Risio.