Artists’ and writers’ retreat throw open doors for a creative vacation

Experience a new place in a different way and create a holiday that can nurture your hidden passion. You can do pottery, paint or just sit down and write that book. Around the world, art retreats are innovatively merging lifestyles and occupations by allowing you to explore locales and the arts and taking you closer to Nature.

Places inspire creativity

When UK artist Tana Maxted went to Italy, she ended up staying on, seduced by the weather, the countryside, the inspiring arts scenario and the Italian zest for life. She began Art Escape Italy, with two friends, and later with a new partner Dorian Plaka, and offered art retreats in the Tuscany region. “We find portrait and figurative painting to be popular and also landscape painting,” says Maxted. “Globally recognised artists teach advanced artists as well as beginners in the same class. And they get individual attention from them,” she adds. This August, there is a five-day six-night figurative painting retreat planned with artist Nicolas Uribe at a retreat in Chianti, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. It is also a chance to discover Tuscany in balmy weather. Post a series of September workshops, Zin Lim from Korea will teach charcoal drawing in October.

Closer home, in Kodaikanal, Artworld gallerists Sarala and Bishwajit Banerjee combine their love for the arts with bed-and-breakfast at Sama Farms. They hold art and farming workshops with fantastic views of mist-covered valleys. This family-run retreat has several room options, a family suite, a cabin and Gallery Shigeatsu by the dining hall for hosting small conferences. In all, an attractive proposition for those looking to spend a quiet time with Nature and art.

Artists’ and writers’ retreat throw open doors for a creative vacation

Sometimes, it’s the setting that inspires people to write, and if you are one of them, then head to tranquil Anam Cara (soul friend), a magical artists’ and writers’ retreat off Coulagh Bay in Ireland. Or, if you want a dose of sunshine and vitamin sea, Can Serrat, an old Catalan house near Barcelona, funds writers, visual artists and musicians.

    Accomplished writers Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai started the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (CWW) in 2008 as a literary writing forum set in Cambridge. “At its heart, CWW has a bi-fold model — French literary salon and the Bengali adda,” says Banerjee, explaining how they nurture non-hierarchical, productive and liberal spaces where writers perform and debate their work. Retreats in New Orleans, Paris and Granada have morning classes and afternoon tours, as Banerjee says, “We wanted writers to get snapshots of culture.” Their upcoming retreat in Granada (August 1 to 6) has Banerjee teaching the Law of Desire (how desire creates conflict) and creating memorable characters. Tim Horvath will explore ‘the five senses’ in Spanish, and Szokolyai will impart the history of flamenco and Roma literature. The fee includes tuition, lodging, a flamenco show, a tapas tour of the city and breakfast.

    Artists’ and writers’ retreat throw open doors for a creative vacation

    Art, mind, body and soul

    Skyros, now in its 40th year, is famous for its holistic holidays with a wide range of programmes in Greece and the UK. The island of Skopelos attracts ceramicist Sharbani Das Gupta who says, “I love going back repeatedly to The Skopelos Foundation for the Arts, a kind of lovely holiday rolled into an art escape!”

    There is more art to be enjoyed at Shilaroo, a mountain village 70 kilometres from Shimla, where the Kainthla sisters started The Shilaroo Project for pottery, yoga, farming and forest healing.

    Artists’ and writers’ retreat throw open doors for a creative vacation

    “We’d had enough of city life,” laughs Virangna Kainthla, a ceramicist who trained at Kalakshetra and Golden Bridge. Her kiln is set at an altitude of 8,500 feet, amidst apple orchards, and hosts up to 15 participants. In June, Muddy Mountain Retreat, a pottery workshop for beginners, will be followed by Healing Forest Journeys in Narkanda Woods. In July, advanced ceramicists interested in figurines can learn from visiting New York artist, Mari Ogihara. Shubhangna, who trained at Isha Foundation, teaches yoga in the bright, airy studio of the main red-brick building, where there’s accommodation as well. Fresh farm-grown meals range from poha and pancakes to local Himachal fare. “Walks in the maple and deodar forests and a picnic to Hatu peak are a must,” says Kainthla.

    Artists’ and writers’ retreat throw open doors for a creative vacation

    The world comes closer

    Art Escape Italy’s guest-list stretches across 25 countries, including Israel, Egypt, Peru and South Africa, and many from the US and the UK. Likewise, at CWW, people from all walks of life — Hollywood actors, social workers, teachers, doctors, even retirees in their 70s — have attended. This May, over a 10-day workshop, the sculpture park at Sama Farms came alive with funky metal sculptures by nine artists, including Asma Menon and Shailesh BO, and stone-works by Stefano Beccari.

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    Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 5:18:44 PM |

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