Cinematographer Sissy Reyes shares her grantee experience, undertaking a Residency Program at Arteles Creative Center, Haukijärvi, Finland, and it's impact on her creative practice. 

"At Arteles I had the unique opportunity to work with long twilight light that only happens during summer in Finland. To have the time to experiment, fail and succeed on a daily basis was a major learning curve for me. With a background in filmmaking, I work under controlled budgets and results-driven conditions, which can be a bit tight on the experimental side of things. Being able to create imagery through a more experimental method, and in an experimental way, was a great challenge that taught me so much more about myself and the art making process. 

Arteles more than met my expectations. I knew I was going to have to put in a lot of work to make it count since I usually don't have this much time to be able to dedicate to a project without everyday life commitments. Just to be able to work through the process of art making for such a period of time was fantastic but on top of that I was very lucky to have such talented artists as peers in residence as well as the Arteles staff. The experience would not have been the same without their support.

This experience was pivotal for me as I've had a very important breakthrough regarding my artistic process. I made a crucial distinction in the way in which to produce work and the fine line between intellectualising and controlling all the elements in the image versus allowing for elements to be discovered in it. Exploring and understanding this approach was great for my personal and professional development. It helped me deconstruct the way in which I was working and fine-tuned my intuitive/experimental approach. I had the time to learn to trust (and be patient with) the process. I gained peers, mentors and great feedback, and started three mayor works intended for exhibitions.

Since returning to Australia, in late September, I had a group show as Purple Moustacho (my art collaboration/duo with fellow Artist Jorge Mansilla) as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival for Dlux Media, the show was called Sartorial and we screened a selection of Purple Moustacho’s video works.

We are currently planning to create new work that focuses on contemporary discourses of masculinity and gender consumerism. The new work will be showcased next year through Dlux Media. As a result of the show, the underground arts and culture-focused SleepPile website approached us for an interview.  

I have also submitted the series “The Martians are coming!’, produced during my time in residence in Finland, to ‘FORMAT 2017 Festival: Habitat’ and to ‘Lensculture Emerging talents 2016 Awards’ and both of my entries have been successfully featured in the online gallery competition, which is a highly curated group of images selected by the festival and competition editors to showcase only the best photos from entrants.

Currently, I am applying for galleries and festivals.  I am also working on the production of new work with Purple Moustacho, as well as continuing the work I have started in Finland and expanding the concepts I started there.

Overall, I am very excited about the progress of my work. It has been a very busy year full of learning opportunities and avenues to show my work and engage with other artists and creatives. Receiving an Ian Potter Cultural Trust also meant it was a great year to expand my process and practice and for that I feel so lucky and privileged."