Helsinglight AAIR - Thoughts and reflections from residence artist Robin Tynan

A Week In Helsinglight

So here’s the thing. I went to Helsinglight at an incredibly stressful time in my life. I am effectively homeless and fighting for a divorce. I also happen to be working on an art series depicting my own experiences of struggling with mental illness. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect before going to Helsignlight. I was excited about the opportunity to go and work and stay somewhere so unique and the idea of an “alternative” artist residence definitely chimed with my alternative heart. But what was it really all about?

Artist Robin Tynan and Book Binder Linette Withers (+ Robins assistant) enjoying a meal at the beautiful balcony on 2nd floor.

Artist Robin Tynan and Book Binder Linette Withers (+ Robins assistant) enjoying a meal at the beautiful balcony on 2nd floor.

Robin Tynan - Work in Progress on a painting for the exhibition “inside My Brain”. Painting in the background by the late artist Gunnar Greiber who used to live and create in this space during 20 years.

Robin Tynan - Work in Progress on a painting for the exhibition “inside My Brain”. Painting in the background by the late artist Gunnar Greiber who used to live and create in this space during 20 years.

As it was, due to real life happening, in the months leading up to my visit I wasn’t really thinking about it or prepared at all! I had a vague idea of what I wanted to work on while I was there but that was it. In some ways I think this was probably good. Going into a new experience with no expectations can actually be very refreshing and take a lot of the pressure of doing well off your shoulders.

Robin brought  water colors along to a lake they visited near Helsinglight. Not a bad combination to paint and go for a lovely swim. Photo by Robin Tynan

Robin brought water colors along to a lake they visited near Helsinglight. Not a bad combination to paint and go for a lovely swim. Photo by Robin Tynan

Beautiful lake nearby Helsinglight. Perfect spot to relax and create. Photo by Robin Tynan

Beautiful lake nearby Helsinglight. Perfect spot to relax and create. Photo by Robin Tynan

Another photo from the beutiful lake near Helsinglight AAiR. Photo by Robin Tynan

Another photo from the beutiful lake near Helsinglight AAiR. Photo by Robin Tynan

I mentioned above that I was going through a difficult time and I also have a chronic illness which leaves me disabled. For this reason I was travelling with a companion, who could help me out while I was at Helsinglight – otherwise there was a real risk I would use all my energy painting and not be able to do basic things like cook a meal and eat. I would need help getting around too – I can’t walk far and can’t drive so having somebody to help was essential. It was also just generally lovely to have a friend along. In addition to the various life stressors I also suffer from mental health issues (depression, anxiety, cPTSD) which actually form a large part of the art I produce. Indeed, my main focus while at Helsinglight was to produce more work for an exhibition collection titled “inside my brain” which is a reflection in art of my struggles with mental illness.

Due to my disability I am unable to work “normal” day job or even commit to painting every day. Helsinglight was the opportunity I needed. There is nothing quite like being able to wake every day and know that all you have to do is create and not only that but to have the space to do so right in front of you. Helsinglight was like a haven for me.

Obviously the apartment itself was a beautiful and luxurious place to stay during my time there – somehow they knew my style. The real magic came from being in a space that was dedicated to art. Not only did the apartment itself come with a lovely little studio space – which captured the morning sun in the most wonderful manner and was perfect for sketches and quiet planning –but it’s within the Helsinglight building itself a space which as well as it’s current incarnation as artist spaces, has a history as an artists hideaway.

Beautiful nature surrounding Helsinglight AAiR - Alternative Artist in Residence. Photo: Robin Tynan

Beautiful nature surrounding Helsinglight AAiR - Alternative Artist in Residence. Photo: Robin Tynan

Beautiful nature surrounding Helsinglight AAiR - Alternative Artist in Residence. Photo: Robin Tynan

Beautiful nature surrounding Helsinglight AAiR - Alternative Artist in Residence. Photo: Robin Tynan

Mushroom painting by Robin Tynan, inspired from the visit in the nature surrounding Helsinglight. Photo Robin Tynan

Mushroom painting by Robin Tynan, inspired from the visit in the nature surrounding Helsinglight. Photo Robin Tynan

Those of you who are lucky enough to have a home studio or easy access to work space might not realise how frustrating it is to not have those things. I can only try to describe to you then the utter joy and satisfaction of being able so easily to surround myself with not just the space and tools I needed but the collective creativity of Petra, Fredrik, the old tenant artist Gunnar Greiber, and every artist who has stayed and worked there previously radiating from every wall. It was like being welcomed into a collective and surrounded with encouragement and inspiration. Yes the practical things – space, lighting, tools – were of course crucial to my ability to create but it is the spirit of the place that that really did it.

As noted above, in my personal life I had been struggling somewhat. My art is itself a form of therapy, allowing me to express and understand some of my thoughts and emotions. Being in a place that supported and encouraged that expression was of course incredibally beneficial to me. That opportunity to simultaneously relax and focus on creativity, something that brings me so much joy, was another branch of what for me felt like healing.

Then of course there is the location. It is incredibly special. To step out of those enigmatic walls into a lush, green, leafy space was wonderful. It truly is a beautiful area and, I am reliably informed, very quintessentially Swedish. Being out in nature and away from the man made (as much as I adore architecture) is very important to me in terms of well being. Being able to walk out in nature and be surrounded by birdsong, greenery, mushrooms, moss and all that the Swedish landscape has to offer not just soothed my soul but gave me the space and calm I needed to properly embrace that creativity and fervent need to paint and draw.

Every artist who stays in Helsinglight AAiR gets their face lifecasted. There will be a wall full of artists faces at Helsinglight as a tribute to the ones who stayed and created here.

Every artist who stays in Helsinglight AAiR gets their face lifecasted. There will be a wall full of artists faces at Helsinglight as a tribute to the ones who stayed and created here.

Helsinglight owner and creative director/FX Artist Petra Shara Stoor taking a lifecast of Robins face.

Helsinglight owner and creative director/FX Artist Petra Shara Stoor taking a lifecast of Robins face.

The “negative” in alginate of Robins face.

The “negative” in alginate of Robins face.

Helsinglight then was not just a place to go to be inspired, but a place to go to be soothed and restored. I want to go back.
— Robin Tynan

Robin Tynan Social Channels

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UPCOMING ART EXHIBITION “Inside My Brain”, Robin Tynan - 20 September 2019, Leeds, UK

HELSINGLIGHT AAiR - ALTERNATIVE ARTIST IN RESIDENCE IS SUPPORTED BY KULTURBRYGGAN

*Kulturbryggan (Kulturbryggan is an alternative financier which, by allocating grants to projects, will promote renewal and development in the cultural area throughout the country)

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