What Residents Said

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2023
Lucia Oleňová

Lucia Oleňová, a painter from Slovakia, wrote, “The environment of the BigCi residence was an essential importance for my work. It was special to wake up every day surrounded by wild nature. I was also very impressed by the architecture of the Art Shed. The combination of the open studio space with the wilderness of the surrounding nature was exceptionally inspiring. I worked with forest landscapes, sandstone and carbon from burnt trees. Exploring the landscape was as important to me as the time spent in the studio. In connection with Yuri walks, the residence was a perfect environment for me to create. His explorer walks encouraged me to think more deeply about the contexts of the country. Rae, in turn, offered me new perspectives through conversations and ideas on how to work with paintings directly in the space where the paintings will be exhibited. I am very honored to have Rae guide me through my work during the residency, she is an exceptional artist with an open mind. I would like to thank Rae and Yuri for the opportunity to be a part of the residency program at BigCi.“

Residents in Spotlight: August-October 2023
Sandra Lieners

Sandra Lieners, a contemporary painter based in Luxembourg/France said, “From the outset of my residency at BigCi, I was inspired by the unique combination of the metropolitan energy of Sydney and the untouched wilderness around Bilpin, especially in such proximity to one another. My studio reality consisted of painting in a plein-air-like ambiance, immersed by the unique visual and auditory characteristics of the Wollemi National Park in combination with frequent trips to the contrasting environment of Sydney.
The discovery of the local art scene and my research of traces in the urban context constituted a sharp contrast to the calmness and grounding ambiance of the UNESCO World heritage Site of the National Park. These clashing influences merged into homogenous, large-scale pieces in an organic process of combining oil painting with cyanotype printmaking and preserved studio traces via sewing.
I became increasingly interested in conservation issues, both in art and in nature, focusing on endangered plants like the Waratah and the Wollemi pine as well as conservation and accessibility issues in contemporary art through the works of Frank Stella, Zoe Leonard and Tracey Moffatt.
My work at BigCi was defined by these fields of tension and intertwined both the citified and the natural mannerisms that mark the Residency terrain. “

Residents in Spotlight: October 2023
Trish Watts and Tony Hole

Trish Watts is a Sydney singer/songwriter. Tony Hole is an Adelaide multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, improviser, and educator. They wrote,
“What a delight to dive into our music making for two weeks undisturbed! Although we have worked and played together many times, it was great to have a dedicated timespan to dive into creative practice and process. We stayed in the Collab Barn which was perfect for setting up our instruments.
The stunning bush environment welcomed and soothed us. We drank in a daily immersion of leaves, branches, spider webs, rocks, clouds, birdcall, frog calls, bush flies and wind through eucalypts, as well as the profound power of the stillness and space between sounds. All of this became the heart and inspiration of our music-making.
Rae’s care for artists and her valuing of the creative process is visionary, genuine and trusting. Yuri’s enthusiasm and curiosity for life is contagious. What they have created here is unique and carries a deep respect for country.
It was joyful to participate in the culminating Open Day, with an offering of songs & improvisations. It was a privilege to be surrounded by other international visual artists: to witness their devoted practices and experience their final works.
We feel rejuvenated, inspired and encouraged by our time at BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2023
Arianna Pace
Arianna Pace, Italian visual artist, the Winner of BigCi Environmental Award 2022, wrote, “What is BigCi to me?
It is Rae, her kindness, her vision, her reserve.
It is Yuri, his enthusiasm, his curiosity, his organisational skills essential to explore the bush.
It is Rae and Yuri, their heartfelt welcome and open-mindedness, not to be taken for granted, and always more easily found among lively people who live in and with nature.
It is a place where the light comes in through the windows when the sun rises, the night is dense, dark and silent; only the croaking of the frogs breaks the silence, and our bodies follow the rhythm of nature, align themselves with it.
It is a place of exchange between the inside and the outside, between artists; where one has the opportunity to test oneself and create new connections.”

Residents in Spotlight: August 2023
Sayoko Suwabe

Sayoko Suwabe artist in residenceJapanese visual artist Sayoko Suwabe said, “Through a never-ending maze of acacias to a disturbed area of pagoda rock. Bright seasonal flowers, praying mantis eggs, countless insect drawings on trees, an ocean of dry sandstone, a patchwork of lichen. The further you walk, the more the ecology varies. These are just a few abstractions of what I found on the walk with the amazing bushwalker, Yuri. Rae’s stunning artworks, the power of the wind, the striking flora and fauna, the flow of time and the delicious local produce excited me, and the architecture of the Art Shed, especially the rainwater collected by the great structure, particularly impressed me. I took the liberty of finding a connection with my practice and my performance of washing self-portrait and water-soluble sculpture at the Open Day, which became linked to the BigCi ecosystem. I was very fortunate to have had some unexpected collaboration opportunities, and I am very grateful to have been able to come to NSW for BigCi. The development of my project ‘Uncertain Contours of Image’ would not have been possible without BigCi. I would like to thank Rae and Yuri for this wonderful opportunity.”

Residents in Spotlight: August 2023
Laura Peña

Laura Peña (MOTH), a Belgian-Colombian artist, writer and curator wrote, “BigCi is a remarkable space for artists, offering an ideal setting for focused artistic practice. Yuri’s bushwalks are a unique experience that should not be missed, they had a profound impact on my work.
Rae, an inspiring artist and BigCi director, was invaluable during my residency. Our conversations left a lasting impression. Additionally, the meditation event at Mountain Spring Monastery, with Rae and a fellow resident, was a unique source of inspiration. This experience revitalised me for the duration of my residency. It also left a deep mark on my research at BigCi.
At the BigCi Open Day, I engaged with notable artists, curators, fellow residents, and a diverse audience, including bushwalkers. The residency offered intense focus, productive rest, and included a collaborative 18-meter cyanotype installation. The feedback and experiences were invaluable.
I look forward to the possibility of returning to BigCi, a place that has come to feel like home for artists and where my connection to performance and artistic concerns became clear. Its inspiring workspaces, nature’s serenity, and the guidance of Rae’s expertise, alongside Yuri’s adventurous spirit have been incredibly meaningful to me.”

Residents in Spotlight: June-July 2023
Iella (Malta/UK), visual artist and designer, said ‘I was looking to do my first art residency as I take a step back from my design career and transition into a full-time working visual artist. When I came across BigCi, I thought it would be a great fit as it would allow me to return to Australia while immersing myself in the beginning of a long-term project. I got distracted by the wilderness of the Wollemi and the bird life around BigCi, but this only allowed me to make more plein-air drawings, which I consider necessary for imagination-based visual artwork.
I made a large body of work while at BigCi, and was privileged to make friends and explore the Blue Mountains regions whilst doing so. I thank Rae and Yuri for their company, insight and assistance during the time spent there. ‘

Residents in Spotlight: June-July 2023
Rae Howell
Rae Howell (Victoria), composer, performer and director, Winner of BigCi Environmental Award 2022, said, “BigCi and the breathtaking wilderness and captivating sounds of the Wollemi have left me feeling deeply connected to nature. The wonder and discovery, particularly during Yuri’s conservation and exploratory walks, sparked a new thread of awe and appreciation for nature’s beauty and intricacies, and the significance of this land to Indigenous Australians. It has been the perfect inspiration to set in motion a new environmental art-music project, and I look forward to seeing how this immersive experience will resonate within my work going forward.”

Residents in Spotlight: June-July 2023
Allis Hamilton
Allis Hamilton, multi-disciplinary artist from Victoria, wrote, “BigCi is hugged by mountains of forest. And if you know forests, they mesmerise.
To devote a month to being quiet among these mighty mountains of bush invites great space to deepen one’s practice; for being nestled atop a ridge swathed by uniquely diverse and extraordinary ecosystems, worlds between worlds, is a richly fecund place to create within.
I found being at BigCi an incredible opportunity which I used to begin my next poetry collection. The brilliantly starred skies, the plants and creatures around BigCi are deeply inspiring, creating the feeling of endless potential. For if that tiny moss hidden among the bark can exist so exquisitely amid this enormous forest, then my creations can sing their own songs amid the choir of my fellow human beings.”

Residents in Spotlight: June-July 2023
Amaya Lang
Sydney artist, writer and teacher Amaya Lang said, “BigCi is an excellent residency set in a stunning, inspiring and unique natural environment. During my time there, I was able to immerse myself in my creative practice distraction free and make a tonne of progress on my project in a relatively short period of time. I hope to return to BigCi one day, it truly is a special place.”

Residents in Spotlight: May 2023
Rowena Grace
Rowena Grace, Sydney-based artist, said, “For an artist whose practice is planted in the natural environment, the Blue Mountains, Bilpin, Wollemi and Gardens of Stone areas provided an incredible variety of material and ideas for my creative practice. I was drawn to pagoda rock formations, and the time at BigCi allowed me to slow down, focus and think through my practice and my approach. With the generous support of Rae and Yuri, the wonderful company of my fellow resident, and the friendly Bilpin community, I found time for focussed artistic experimentation and a safe and supportive space to create within. These elements helped me step outside of my usual approaches to art making and try an entirely new medium with a video work, picking up new skills, as well as collecting much reference material that will be relevant to my ongoing practice. Looking back, I would have to say I had a fabulous time at BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2023
Håvard Sagen
Håvard Sagen, a multi-disciplinary artist from Norway, said, “My time at BigCi in Bilpin was truly a gift. After spending two years in bustling New York, I found myself longing for nature and tranquility. This is what I am used to in Norway, where I am from. Australia is my new home, and BigCi provided an opportunity to immerse myself in the bush for the first time. It was a magical and somewhat surreal experience.
One of the highlights of my stay was exploring the enigmatic history of an old Finnish sauna nestled within the Bilpin bush, constructed using traditional Scandinavian log techniques. Intrigued by the objects and artifacts left behind by past occupants, this became my project. I delved into unravelling the lost origins and stories of this captivating structure. Finally, during the open day, I had the privilege of showcasing my findings and presenting the assembled objects to the viewers. I am immensely grateful to Yuri and Rae for their hospitality and for introducing me to the wonders of Wollemi National Park.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2023
Erica Molesworth

Erica Molesworth, an Australian video and installation artist who has recently returned from New York, wrote, “I wasn’t sure what to expect at BigCi but I knew I wanted to reconnect with what my practice might look like in an Australian context. Rae was helpful and flexible from the start, and once settled into my beautiful workspace overlooking the bush, I knew it was a place that I could be really productive. I was working on some fairly slow-going animation and I was really happy with how much I got done in the short 4-week timespan. I was also introduced by Yuri to some ecological sites that became woven into my work, particularly some that are part of the ongoing contestation between resource use, climate, ecology and First Nations significance.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2023
Brietta Hague

Brietta Hague, Australian journalist and filmmaker, said, “My time at BigCi has been rejuvenating and deeply inspiring. Being surrounded by pure nature has given me a sense of peace I’ve not felt in many years. This peace awakened my creative mind and I leave Bilpin having completed more work than I imagined was possible. Being an artist herself, Rae is so attuned to how artists live and work. BigCi has worked out the perfect balance; lending support but also acknowledging the power of solitude. The bush doesn’t allow for any artistic pretentions, just truth! Yuri’s expeditions into Wollemi National Park are very special and complement the experience beautifully.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2023
Brigid Allan

Brigid Allan, a New Zealand painter, said, “With Wollemi National Park literally on the door step and the architectural space of BigCi to work and live in, I felt creatively activated. I could feel the cumulative creative experience of others. It is a special place. What gift, to be able to absorb myself in my process and work in the bush easily. This changed my practice forever. A beautiful combination of isolation, wilderness, community and creativity.
And then there is the unique combination of having both Rae, as a thoughtful engaged coordinator, and Yuri, an experienced explorer and adventurer. This is what completed my artist residency perfectly. For them, I am thankful, for creating such a space, to share and engage with other minds.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2023
Fiona Crestani

Fiona Crestani, visual artist based in Austria and France, said, “This art retreat has allowed me to focus completely on my practice. It is in such a unique environment that this inevitably became a theme of my work. It has been a time submerged in work development with no distractions.
The introductory walks with Yuri were eye-opening. The exploration and scrambling walk was something very unique which I won’t forget. He has a vast knowledge and enthusiasm for this spectacular area.
Rae is very open, and has great questions which challenged and helped my artistic practice. The local people are also very open and outgoing, and show an avid interest in the artists in this extraordinary ambience.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2023
Han Qing
For Chinese painter Han Qing, it was the 4th time he did BigCi residency. He wrote, “I love the environment of the Blue Mountains. It is like paradise. The tranquillity of BigCi is distinctive and natural. Every day when I was there, I heard birds singing freely, I felt the rich plants ecology of the forest, woven into this heavenly world. I was free to use my imagination. Every time I went bushwalking, I was in close contact with nature that touched my every nerve. BigCi has large and bright spaces where I could create big artworks. My residency experience was enriched by the artists from different countries that brought their cultures I could learn from.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2023
Gloria Sulli
Gloria Sulli, an Italian/Australian artist, said, “I really enjoyed my stay in BigCi. The many windows, the greenery, the high ceilings, the animal encounters, the insects that came to visit, and the birds and cockatoos chirping in the morning.
I felt good, reading became deeper, concentration sharper, and meditation more motivated. The sense of wonder expanded in the breathtaking landscape. The bushwalks were wild and exciting, at first one I couldn’t stop laughing, and they will be an endless source of inspiration.
My art practice became invigorated and my morning routine became fluid.
I was encouraged to take on an ambitious project and genuinely supported in the process by Rae and Yuri. My art practice now feels more stable and ready for new start. The workshop space was ideal, we shared musical and artistic aspirations and ideas, danced, laughed, and made art together.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2023
Mike Wall
Mike Wall, a landscape photographer living in the Blue Mountains, said, “Sadly, my time at BigCi was short due to an accident out bushwalking with Yuri and some of my fellow artists. I am grateful for the care and huge assistance of all those that helped we out that day.
In the short time I was there at BigCi, I was able to make 7 pieces of my experimental landscape compositions.

The weather was both hot and wet, and everybody was productive.
I can see the value of spending time in this place. When I get back on my feet and healthy, I hope to return to join Yuri, seeking out more visual delights of the Wollemi and thereabouts. Perhaps next time I will be better prepared for the adventure.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2023
Annette Köhn
Annette Köhn is a comic artist and publisher from Berlin, Germany. She says, “My expectations of the residency at BigCi matched the outcome. I was deeply impressed by the natural environment with the vast biodiversity and the landscape, and had a lot to explore, sketch and draw. I was also happy about my friendly artist companions, their inspiration, and the huge workspace we shared. Yuri was a great host in sharing so much information about the facts and curiosities of the National Park. Rae was pushing me to create a comic story, which in the end resulted in a 16-page booklet, “Annette in Australia”. She also inspired me to think about my art in general. So, this (my first) residency had a real impact on me, and I am very happy about it.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2023
Marion Wassenaar
Marion Wassenaar, an artist and lecturer from New Zealand, said, “I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to immerse myself in this beautiful bush setting with the Wollemi Wilderness on our doorstep. The expansive Art Shed provides a stimulating environment in which to experiment. I acknowledge the generous support, friendship and engagement of Rae and the other residents with their diversity of skills that shared this dynamic art space with me. Both Rae and Yuri are enthusiastic about the residency programme, and Yuri, an intrepid explorer, is a fount of knowledge on the flora and vast array of fauna (including the diamond python who paid us a visit one morning), as well as on the history and geology of the area. My time here allowed me to reflect on resilience and adaptability.”

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2023
Marielle Gonier
Marielle Gonier, a French performance and mixed media artist, said, “My stay in BigCi was my first art residency experience in Australia. I had no particular expectations, except to be inspired. But BigCi is more than an art residency. This place is entirely devoted to art and environment, without compromise.
I was immediately drawn into the power of the 360-degree natural surroundings and the dark nights engulfed in mystery. In addition to being a source of pure inspiration, BigCi has a huge artistic studio space that encourages any artist to conceive, to experiment, to explore any discipline, without limit. It is a place that feels both free and supported, alone and surrounded, ideal for creating a mental space for art. The artistic director, Rae Bolotin, is attentive to the slightest questioning, from the smallest to the most important, from the most abstract to the most concrete, and her outside view of the artistic work itself is very precious and professional. For the environment, Yuri Bolotin is a real living encyclopedia, and among other things, joining his bushwalks allowed to open other horizons to the artistic creation.
In the end, BigCi is a place where there is absolutely no excuse not to create.”

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2023
Dallas Rae
Dallas Rae, NSW North Coast-based figurative painter and printmaker, said, “I arrived at BigCi with the ambition of observing the flora and fauna of the Blue Mountains. I have a particular interest in those plants and animals that are critically endangered in this area. My main aim was to create paintings and prints in order to reflect on and for an upcoming exhibition.
From the moment I arrived, I was captivated by the myriad of birdlife surrounding this beautiful place. My time at BigCi allowed me the space and freedom to produce many prints as well as a number of large paintings. It has been wonderful to be able to immerse myself in my art, in a supportive environment and without daily concerns getting in the way of thinking and creating.
Rae and Yuri have been welcoming and supportive, and I only wish that I had been able to go on more bushwalks around this beautiful place. I will take away many memories, ideas, and skills from this experience.”

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2023
Jenny Pollak
Jenny Pollak, a Sydney-based multi-disciplinary artist and poet, wrote, “My residency at BigCi was the perfect opportunity for me to do something I had been wanting to do for a long time, which was to bring together 4 different practices: photography, ink drawing, sculpture, and poetry. The generous spaces of the art shed allowed me to work on a larger scale than I am normally able to do, and this, along with the large walls, was a huge factor in helping me to produce and visualise my work.
The incredibly beautiful and diverse surroundings of the Wollemi National Park and the bushland right outside the art shed was instrumental in nourishing this process of both contemplation and art.
My gratitude to Rae and Yuri Bolotin for creating such a wonderful synthesis between the creative practice and a focused attention to the natural beauty and fragility of the surrounding environment. I am very happy to have been selected as one of the recipients of the Environmental Art Prize.”

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2023
Jacky Talbot

Jacky Talbot, Sydney-based ceramics and installation artist, said, “My residency at BigCi has been such an enriching way to begin a new year. I have explored new artistic and landscape environments, shared thought and ideas. Listened to birds and the wind. Thanks Rae and Yuri for providing this opportunity.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-December 2022
Jacques Martens

Netherlands-based photographer Jacques Martens says, “It was great to be part of a truly unique experience at BigCi. Rae and Yuri and the other BigCi artists were a source of inspiration. The bushwalking with Yuri shows a tremendous amount of details – pagodas, sandstone, creeks and caves. It was a continuous inspiration source for photography. In the Barn, it was like being back in nature, as we were greeted every morning by the birds in the forest. I am very thankful to Rae and Yuri for being generous with their time and assistance throughout my stay at the BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2022
Linda Weiß

Linda Weiß, a German mixed media installation artist, wrote, “Sometimes you are lucky. Your human relationships are harmonious. You feel supported, cared for, you are in enriching dialogues, you feel seen, understood. Everything seems to be thrilling. You wish time should stand still.
But imagine that this is just the description of the interpersonal aspect of BigCi. The residency is located close to the Wollemi National Park. And if it’s possible for you to join amazing walks through this stunning landscape, you really would hope there was a button to stop the concept of time passing by.
It took me really by surprise to see, feel and sometimes hear the past that the elements wrote into the surface of sandstone, ironstone, moss, and lichens. You arrive in Bilpin with your ideas, projects, to-do’s, but earth, water, fire, and air will intrigue you with all their storylines. I guess there is no way to not feel connected to this ecosystem after working on the ground at BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2022
Courtney Reynolds
Courtney E. Reynolds, a writer and advocate for activism and environment, said, “BigCi for me was a naive trust in undertaking a trip so far from home (Cincinnati, OH). BigCi seemed welcoming and relaxed, so I just applied not thinking they’d take a writer. I was so wrong. The whole Bilpin community and bushwalkers support the artist collective and make BigCi much more magical than I realized. On the edge of Wollemi, even a small pond (Linda swam -I was too chicken). I am really sad to say goodbye but it’s unending energy that this environment has given me. The project Rae helped me with was a strong take on vulnerability, and Rae provided assistance if I needed it. I hope one day I make my way back to Bilpin Market and Archibald’s.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-December 2022
Amy Guion Clay
Amy Guion Clay, US-based painter/printmaker, said, “I had been anticipating this residency for 2 years as it was delayed due to the pandemic. To finally arrive, and have the luxury of 2 months to sink into this unique world, was exciting and blissful. As a 2D artist, my intention was to go beyond my usual format and find new territory for my work. Rae’s encouragement and the inspiration from my fellow artists helped me stretch into the 3D world. And to be able to join in on some of Yuri’s exceptional bush walks was such a gift. Talk about stretching! I will always remember my time at BigCi with Rae, Yuri and my fellow artists who set me on a new path of exploration.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-December 2022
Anna J. van Stuijvenberg

Netherlands-based site-specific installation artist Anna J. van Stuijvenberg says, “I was really struck by the survival techniques trees have developed through time against drought and fires. The gum trees with all their character and form became my source of inspiration for drawings, cuttings and rubbings. I felt like a collector of precious things. Every time when I went out for a bushwalk with Yuri, there was something amazing to trigger my imagination that I could use and that eventually ended up in a landscape I made of paper. Working in the Art Shed together with my fellow residents was a new experience which I seriously enjoyed. Thank you, Rae, for creating this learning and experimental environment. You have been a generous source of advice and support. I hope to be back!”

Residents in Spotlight: October-November 2022
Linda Erzinger

Linda Erzinger, a US-based assemblage artist, said, “The wildfires and then covid lock-downs delayed my stay at BigCi. Because of this, I had great anticipation and emotional connection to this land even before setting foot on it. On arriving and taking part in Yuri’s fabulous walks, I have fallen completely in love, with the soil, rocks, trees, birds, air, water… This deep connection to nature grounded me in a profound way, allowing me to explore my work with a great freedom.

This centered place and Rae’s encouragement and feedback provided a structure by which I was able to reach some breakthroughs in my art making. It helped that the media room was so easy to access and that there was space enough for myself as well as my fellow artists to work. I made great connections with the other residents as well as a few people in the community. My hope is that I can remain in contact with everyone I met here. I can see myself returning!”

Residents in Spotlight: October-November 2022
Irene Koroluk
Irene Koroluk, Hobart-based textile artist, said, “I have been able to discover and document beautiful wildflowers for future work and amazing fauna, including one bucket list item (the Broad-tailed leafed Gecko). For the first time in my art practice, I have truly observed the eucalypt tree. I have not previously seen the colour range in the leaves nor the diverse colours in single leaves. My daily swim in the dam has allowed me observe plants and the play of wind and light at ground level, and be inspired by beautiful sculptures. From my bedroom and studio window I have been awed daily by the majestic King Parrot eating wattle seed.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-November 2022
Helen Lessick
Helen Lessick, Los Angeles-based visual and public artist wrote, “Theatre of the Roots, my one-woman sculptural installation, was realized in the BigCi Art Shed. My sculptural stage and backdrop root were defined by crocheted mason line. My stage curtain was a life-sized mylar ghost tree, raised and lowered on a carabiner pulley. My original narration explored the life of roots from their perspective. Fellow residents contributed their unique insights from art scenes in The Hague, The Netherlands to Hobart, Tasmania, and countries in between. Art is my frame and strategy to understand the environment. I achieved my creative aims at BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: August-September 2022
Blake Curran
Sydney based queer writer Blake Curran wrote, “The time away from work and everyday life that BigCi provided me was integral to being able to take a step back and look at my writing on a larger scale. I was able to focus on writing – a privilege that artists of all media and calibre will recognise – and be inspired by the stunning landscape in Bilpin and surrounds. Since finishing my time at BigCi, I have been motivated to continue working on my creative practice, and have found it easier to prioritise over other aspects of day-to-day life.”

Residents in Spotlight: August-September 2022
Azu Kimura
Tokyo based visual artist Azu Kimura wrote, “Coming from Japan, the colours of the trees, of the ground, and the sounds of birds were all new to me, and every day was a discovery.
My method is based on walking in the mountains and forests, observing, researching, and then creating.
Before coming here, I was very worried about whether I would be able to find something in the environment that I wanted to express, but my fears were unfounded because BigCi is surrounded by a wonderful environment, and I could walk through beautiful bushes every day.
My stay was very quiet and intensive at the same time, so I really had a good experience.”

Residents in Spotlight: August-September 2022
Tania Mason
Sydney visual artist Tania Mason said, “I arrived at the BigCi with the ambition of creating foundational works that will be used for an exhibition at my gallery Twenty Twenty Six, sometime next year! My aim was to study and look at local native orchids and produce at least 20 small studies to work from and make into larger works. BigCi allowed me the space and freedom to achieve these goals.
Rae and Yuri are so welcoming and supportive, discussing and helping me along my journey to creating these works. It has been an absolute discovery of learning, researching and creating. Thank you for providing such a supportive space to make art!”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2022
Katherine Lam
Katherine Lam, an installation artist from Dallas, Texas, said, “BigCi provided a safe haven for me to explore my work in peace, adjacent to nature. I was also surrounded by amazing fellow residents, and felt so much support from both Rae and Yuri. They went through great lengths to make sure I had what I needed to make my work. I made installations that required several of their large constructive materials, and they were very accommodating. Rae lent a patient ear when I had to explain my process, struggles, and fears. Not only this, I learned so much about the environment through the guided bushwalks with Yuri – a rare experience. I absolutely adored my time here and I wish to one day be back.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2022
Birgit Jordan
Birgit Jordan, a German/Australian visual artist, said, “I came to BigCi to experience a new place and natural environment and find space and time to explore, experiment, learn and make new work. I found all of this and more. Rae and Yuri provided fantastic opportunities for immersing in this stunning part of the world and its welcoming community, along with valuable creative freedom and support. Experiencing the unique Blue Mountains wilderness on Yuri’s off track bushwalks and its real and current destruction brought by underground coal mining has left me with profound impressions and a new awareness. The Art Shed and BigCi grounds and surroundings are fantastic playgrounds. They provided endless inspiration and the opportunity to shift from small to larger scale work as an exciting new prospect. I discovered that making place specific work without a pre-conceived idea is something I would like to do more going forward. I am leaving BigCi rich with wonderful and interesting memories, friendships and inspiration.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2022
Trish Watts
Trish Watts, a Sydney singer/songwriter, reflects, “As winter was approaching, I felt a huge need to leave the city, seek out the elements of fire, air, water and rock, and return to my first nature- trees, birds, fresh air. During the Covid pandemic, there was a ban on public singing for over 2 years. No performances, no choirs, no community singing, and for me….no livelihood! To be ‘masked’ for a singer, is to be ‘muted’. It left me depleted and lost. I needed to find my creative core once again, my joy, my lifeblood, and the best way I know to find it is to listen to the land and birds, to UNMASK and SING!! When I heard about the BigCi Artist Residency, a year before, it sparked my interest. Would they accept a musician, a performing artist, a singer/songwriter? A YES came back….and here we are.”
Here is Trish’s, Sandstone Rock, first performed at BigCi Open Day and now recorded in Adeliade with two beautiful musicians.

Residents in Spotlight: August 2022
Jen Valender
Narrm Melbourne-based performance and multimedia artist Jen Valender said, “I left BigCi feeling creatively nourished and with a dossier of new artwork ideas in tow. Wollemi National Park is a beautiful part of the world to pause and be still in, yet with such inspired surroundings it was impossible to do anything other than create. Rae and Yuri welcomed me with the generous spirit of foster art parents, assisting in the planning and logistics of my final installation along the way. The local ecology and art studio informed the sound and five channel moving image performance that concluded my stay. It was a life-affirming experience—looking forward to coming back.”

Residents in Spotlight: June – July 2022
Louise Beer and John Hooper
UK-based Louise Beer and John Hooper (Pale Blue Dot Collective), Winners of BigCi Environmental Award 2020, wrote, “We want to thank Rae and Yuri for being such generous guides of the area and through the subject of the climate crisis for our work here. It has been a confronting experience and we will forever be changed by experiencing the floods and post-fire forests. We came to the residency with an idea about a film we wanted to make and were supported by Rae and Yuri throughout this process. We feel their knowledge, experience and talents helped us to produce a film that we are really proud of.
It has been a truly perspective changing experience and we will be forever grateful to Rae and Yuri for providing such a fantastic residency that allows artists the time to reflect on our changing world. We are going to miss the sound of frogs singing at night time and the birds calls throughout the day so much.”

Residents in Spotlight: June – July 2022
Ingrid Hess
US-based artist and designer Ingrid Hess said, “My time at BigCi was extraordinary. Not only did the residency provide time and space, it also provided an environment (both the Wollemi National Park and the community of Bilpin) that inspired and motivated me to create and to grow as an artist. Rae and Yuri were also very instrumental in connecting me with the National Park and a Conservation Group who both used my final work. These professional connections are invaluable. My career and my life have both benefitted significantly from this residency.”
To hear Ingrid talking about how she uses her art and design practice to educate and advocate for the environment, and about her special project at BigCi, click here.

Residents in Spotlight: April – May 2022
Mark Dober
Country Victoria-based artist Mark Dober wrote, “I came to the residency at BigCi with the goal of making several wall-sized works on paper for a solo show at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery that commences in February next year. These works were to be made at various easily accessible sites in the forest in close proximity to BigCi.
Working in the forest, I was seeking a sense of immersion: all that was around me – the near and the far – was represented with watercolour and gouache on multiple sheets of paper, clipped to boards. I succeeded in completing the work for my forthcoming exhibition.
BigCi enabled me to make a large body of work in a short space of time. Beautiful and lush as they are, the surroundings were an inspiration to me. I loved the flowering plants, the Banksia, and the density of foliage. The walk that Yuri led to the Aboriginal art in the cave deep in the forest, left quite an impression on me.”

Residents in Spotlight: April – May 2022
Michelle Perrett
Sydney ceramic artist Michelle Perrett wrote, “Thank you for having me at BigCi. It was a great experience. I loved making work here about the endemic flowers and enjoyed doing the talk and performance at the Open Day. I also enjoyed the market and meditation, and getting to know you and your inspiring vision and generosity to me and the other artists, especially with your time and knowledge. My studio and other work areas were beautiful and inspiring, and I will remember them forever. I would love to apply again one day.”

Residents in Spotlight: April – May 2022
Lisa McKimmie
Sydney artist Lisa McKimmie wrote, “A month at the BigCi gifted me the time, space and quiet to focus on my art making and go deeper and broader in my practice and thinking. The shift in space, light, freedom and lack of distractions in a extraordinary, custom built, spacious studio environment gave clarity to my thinking and the incisive and astute questions of Rae encouraged articulation and reflection. Rae has a wonderful deep listening approach that encourages the interrogation and exploration of new ideas. The environment, on the edge of the Wollemi in the Blue Mountains, is a magical one. No one could ask for a more knowledgeable and generous guide than Yuri who took us on a number of optional short and day long walks. These allowed for the gathering of photographs, absorbing the light, colour and extraordinary diversity of the landscape, developing an understanding of the challenges facing the wilderness and the history of the area. The structured social and professional moments and the company of other artists added to the experience, and I have taken away memories of laughter, conversations and insights into my art practice. In the optional social opportunities with the larger Bilpin community and events such as the Saturday fresh produce market I found a wonderful way to involve myself in what is a tight knit, vibrant and friendly community.”

Residents in Spotlight: April – May 2022
Molly Burrage
Melbourne artist Molly Burrage said, “I learnt so much about my art practice, working at BigCi, exploring the landscape, and making alongside other artists. It was so exciting being surrounded by different and new vegetation. When I arrived, I was unsure of what I wanted to achieve. Having had experience in printmaking, painting, and drawing I was eager to branch out and discover something new about my practice. My walks with Yuri encouraged me to continue to look at the notions of movement and the ever so fast changing landscape. These walks were a privilege to experience, especially as a walking artist. The large space provided to us encouraged me to explore bigger works, giving me the opportunity to explore my curiosity, investigating and experimenting with installation. My artwork, being landscape based, thrived in this environment. I can’t wait to see how my work grows and transforms after my experience of making and walking at BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: April – May 2022
Linda Adair
Blue Mountains poet and artist Linda Adair wrote, “I came to BigCi as a poet to research Newnes and to uncover the story of a favourite aunt who was born there. I had no preconceived idea of what artwork I would produce but brought silk screen printing equipment and linen, canvases and painting materials along. I wanted to do more than ‘just’ write! I threw myself into researching Newnes, then, surrounded by painters, I began painting what I saw around me and made some sketches based on historic photographs of the ghost town, to present the child’s point of view of life in Newnes.
The paintings based on historic black and white photos of Newnes were a means of thinking of poems and unpacking a hidden history, and the works on paper highlight how the traditional owners of the Wolgan Valley have been overlooked in so much history since colonisation. Interacting with other artists was inspiring, and the Artistic Director of the BigCi, Rae Bolotin, was a good sounding board. Supportive yet astute, Rae reminded me of my initial aims but did not impose limits. I was free to think ‘outside the box’, and could include paintings and poetry to tell Jessies’s story, and an installation that underlined the need for a Voice to Parliament to tell a story in my presentation. Coming to BigCi has opened up writing and making project I will develop in future.”

Residents in Spotlight: April – May 2022
Elizabeth Nelson
Victoria-based painter Elizabeth Nelson wrote, “My residency at BigCi provided a wonderful opportunity to focus solely on my painting. Being able to paint every day, read, and walk in the evenings, was a pleasure. I also enjoyed getting to know the environs of Bilpin, including the magnificent sunsets and the produce of the nearby bakery. I enjoyed walking up the road to the bakery in the middle of the day, the sun on my back. It was a productive time for me because I was able to get more painting done than I usually do.
My project at BigCi was painting self-portraits. I worked in The Barn, where I was staying, using a mirror and table easel. I made three self-portraits in oils on board. At the completion of the residency, I had a sense of satisfaction of having made these works, I had new ideas for future work, and I felt refreshed from the beautiful and lively landscape round BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2022
Jane Guthleben
Jane Guthleben, a Sydney-based painter, said, “BigCi was a great opportunity to immerse in a new bush setting and to live and work in an industrial studio environment. As I got to know my new colleagues, we had great conversations about their practices and I was able to learn from their work, which was a wonderful benefit of the residency. My artwork became a painted documentation of my botanical discoveries during the month, which came from walking through different types of bushland and microclimates. I felt drawn to create a fully immersive painting with no human references, no horizon line, and multiple points of view, much like the eyes would experience while passing through the bush. The giant windows of the Art Shed looking out onto the foliage, along with Yuri’s legendary walks in the Gardens of Stone and Wollemi provided extra material to work from. Open Day was a formal opportunity to consider all the artists’ achievements over the month, and the artist talks included insight into what each person gained from their time at BigCi. Far from the city, I felt I was less interested in the domestic signifiers and human narratives of my Still Life practice, and instead keen to communicate the indefatigable force of nature, its diversity and importance of preserving it. Thank you for creating this unique residency experience.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2022
Carme Dapena
Carme Dapena, a Spanish artist, said, “It’s impossible to feel better about creating in an environment like the Blue Mountains and with people as adorable, familiar and helpful as Yuri and Rae. My stay here has been an unforgettable and recommendable experience to have a moment of peace, nature and company of fellow artists working and sharing knowledge. I don’t want to forget to mention how spectacular the walks with Yuri are as a guide to discover new places in the National Parks. Immensely grateful for everything.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2022
Alanna Lorenzon
Alanna Lorenzon, a Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist, wrote, “My stay at BigCi has been an invaluable opportunity to sink into my creative process and the unique environment of Wollemi National Park. Rae and Yuri have created a remarkable space where artists can effortlessly integrate their practice with the surrounding ecology.
I felt well supported during my stay. The residency provides generous studio space with ample natural light, regular opportunities to explore the local environment and a professional and well organised Open Day to present work at the culmination of the month.
Rae encouraged us to experiment and extend our practice during our time there. I found myself not only going ‘off-track’ in Yuri’s memorable walks through caves and waterfalls but also in my practice. I explored new techniques and approaches, creating a series of paintings in collaboration with the rain that were responsive to the local meteorological conditions.
This special month at BigCi will continue to have an effect on my practice for years to come. The landscape is endlessly inspiring and I can imagine returning to follow more paths, both literally and conceptually in the future.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2022
Helen Braun
Helen Braun, a Melbourne-based sculptural installation artist, wrote, “Experiencing forest quiet and forest song, layered with tones of visual colour sensations, was the music which became the backdrop and immersive creative inspiration during my time within the unique environment of my BigCi artist residency. Referencing the myriad nuances of the extraordinary surrounding bushland, I transformed many close observations into works which included subtle, yet ambiguous interpretations of this environment. The bush provided a fabulous lived-in experience from front to back doorsteps and every window of residency living quarters. Generous and valuable input and support from Rae and Yuri and the other artist residents further enhanced the experience of this wonderfully rewarding residency within the Blue Mountains at Bilpin.”


Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2022
Filipa Tojal
Filipa Tojal, a Portuguese visual artist, said, “I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to experience time in BigCi, waking up every day to such immersive greens and diverse fauna and flora. Yuri’s wild bushwalks and deep knowledge about the area inspired me greatly, and Rae’s delicate insights and orientations, made me feel directed and question my daily work at the studio. As a foreigner artist, this was definitely a perfect way to experience Australian wilderness in such a well-conceived artist facility created by infinitely inspiring hosts. I managed to have a lot of time to dedicate peacefully to my practice and go for bush strolls – just one step away from the studio desk. Wild yet peaceful, the scale of the studios and its gigantic open windows clearly affected and orientated my work. The Open Day will forever be a beautiful memory: a shared meal with a curious community who wants to connect and grow.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2022
Joanne Sisson
Joanne Sisson, a Ballarat-based painter, said, “Along with the beauty of the undulating landscape and the diversity of flora and fauna, it is the unexpected aspects of the BigCi residency that held so much joy. Rae and Yuri contribute creative energy and sense of wonderment for nature to the residency. In addition to this, it was most enjoyable meeting and learning from the other artists. Nature is a gift that surrounds the Bilpin property, and this provided constant stimulation for my work.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2022
Ryan Andrew Lee
Ryan Andrew Lee, an Australian cinematographer and conceptual new media artist, wrote, “Undertaking the BigCi residency as part of the 2021 Environmental Award has been a very unique and rewarding experience for me. Coming to a place with a very loose concept and then having to develop and realise a work within four weeks has been great as I am usually working on my own time and hence it takes a while for me to sign off on a project. It’s also been great as it’s been such a short time that I’ve been able to observe my own processes from conceptualisation to realisation and really be aware of certain aspects of my work that I might focus too much on and others that need more attention. The feedback from Rae in the conceptual and aesthetic side of things as well as from Yuri from an environmental and activism perspective has been invaluable and has definitely helped me clarify both my intentions and approaches, as well as allowing me to have an insight into how others might perceive my work. I feel very privileged to have been selected as one of the BigCi Environmental Award winners and really admire what Rae and Yuri are doing here, bringing together mediums of art with a pure concern for conservation and the environment.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2022
Jemila MacEwan
Jemila MacEwan, a Scottish-Australian performance land artist living and working in New York, wrote, “BigCi is an exceptional residency, with a clearly defined vision for supporting artists in building creative relationships with the unique ecology and geology of the Wollemi National Park. I was the honored recipient of the BigCi Environmental Award for which I created a new experimental work entitled ‘Breathing Rock’ –– an inflatable solar powered sculpture that inhales with the sunrise and exhales with the sunset. Both Rae and Yuri are wonderful resources for artists. Rae is very knowledgeable about sculpture processes, project management and curation; and Yuri is fully invested in traversing the backcountry of the Wollemi in order to map and share the park’s unique bio and geo diversity as well as orchestrating unforgettable off-track hikes in order to raise awareness and protect these sites for future generations. During my time at BigCi we encountered an unprecedented climate event, during which we experienced several weeks of heavy rain and many areas of NSW were flooded. Despite these conditions Rae and Yuri remained calm and positive, finding ways to adapt the programming to any challenges that presented themselves. They have an excellent understanding of the land and its surroundings and maintain good communication lines with the community of Bilpin. The open day at the end of the residency was very professionally planned, programmed and promoted with the utmost effort put into every detail of the event. At all times I felt fully supported in realizing my project, I only wish I had had twice as much time to explore this rich and inspiring place.”

Residents in Spotlight: May-June 2021; February-March 2022
Gloria Florez
Gloria Florez, installation artist and environmental advocate, the winner of BigCi Environmental Award 2020, wrote, “I undertook my residency in two four-week parts, spread eight months apart.
During my stay at BigCi, I had the opportunity to immerse myself and to explore the vast beauty and rich bio/geodiversity of both the Wollemi National Parks and the Gardens of Stone. In these guided explorations, I was able to understand that despite the grandeur and uniqueness of these habitats, there are unprotected areas that are at peril due
to coal mining and logging.
Being at the Art Shed, mixing local raw materials, has allowed me to develop a body of work that portrays the beauty and fragility of these precious habitats. Despite the challenges presented by covid and the weather, we were able to adapt the project, Forrest Ambassadors, to work with the students and teachers from Bilpin Primary School. They created a powerful and colourful large-scale collage inspired by the beauty and fragility of their natural surroundings. This became part of my installation shown at the Open Day.
A very important side of the residency was the integration with fellow artists. The nights were always an opportunity for long conversations involving a wonderful and diverse group of artists with very interesting approach to cooking, respect and love for nature and passion for art.
I highly recommend BigCi to artists, musicians, writers, scientists, academics and philanthropic/educational organisations that share the same vision to protect our natural world. Together, our voices and actions will be counted.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2022
Samuel James
Samuel James, a Blue Mountains video artist and filmmaker, said, “A fantastic development and rejuvenation time together with a most diverse group of artists made BigCi a non-stop experience of inspiration and pleasure. The accommodation and studios are the perfect ‘studio in the bush’ with brilliant eco-designed Art Shed nestled amongst the trees providing us with just the right spaces of mezzanines, balconies, open and tucked away areas, library, concrete areas with ventilation, rigging points and lighting, sound system, cinema room and easy to access outdoor areas with power. It is a truly inspired place designed by Rae and Yuri, highly tuned to the needs and visions of all artists. In addition, there are multiple levels of bush exploration available, from the rich biodiversity of the BigCi property with many types of Australian flora I hadn’t seen before, to the Wollemi National Park expanding from the front doorstep of BigCi to the vast canyons of the Gardens of Stone. The bush walks can be easy to difficult but guided by Yuri we were always in safe hands – such a privilege to take up these offers of rare, off-track bush experiences in natural environments relatively untouched by human presence. Rae provided wonderful hospitality and curator’s guidance with a gentle touch and deep intuition for how we can develop and situate our practice here at BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2022
Jayanto Tan
Jayanto Tan, Sumatran-Australian ceramics and contemporary artist, said, “I had a wonderful stay at BigCi with the video artist Samuel, land artist Jemila and Colombian-Australian installation artist Gloria. We had such a lovely and meaningful social connection. Big thank you to Rae and Yuri for making this residency so magical, and I had a very pleasant and social time after the restrictions of a pandemic. It was great to have such an enormous space to work on installation and performance. I’m most grateful to Rae & Yuri for their generosity and support during my time here. The adventurous explorative bush walks by Yuri were fantastic. Open Day was enjoyable with lots of people turning up and getting lots of good responses on my art practice. I can highly recommend BigCi, and it does feel like home.”

Residents in Spotlight: June-July 2021
Jia-wei Zhu
Jia-wei Zhu, Chinese Australian multidisciplinary dance artist, wrote, “My time at BigCi has been regenerative creatively. Feeling that my creativity had run dry in my life in the city, I came here without a set plan. But I experienced a gradual shift from fatigue to being observant of the surroundings. I became especially inspired by the insect markings on the bark of Angophora trees, the sun and shadows and their subtle yet constant change. This led me to experiment with making new work in new ways. I feel that I have found many beginnings here that I will continue to explore in the future.”

Residents in Spotlight: June-July 2021
Dr Stuart Bailey
Dr Stuart Bailey, Australian cross-media contemporary artist, said, “My time at BigCi was a unique opportunity to escape my busy life in Sydney and enjoy time focussed solely on creativity, reflection and a reengagement with nature. It was important that my artistic output during this time was completely free from expectations, goals and deadlines. After working project-to-project as an artist, curator and lecturer for over twenty years, this was the first time I had the luxury of working in an open and relaxed manner, free from the framework of an exhibition outcome.
The surrounding natural beauty was an important background influence. I found my slow explorative walks in the nearby Wollemi National Park enriched my time with a sense of solitude. My time with the landscape refreshed my mind and had me considering my intangible connection to nature in a new way.
I have re-connected to a practice of drawing, research and experimentation that I am certain will be re-energising my studio practice.”

Residents in Spotlight: June-July 2021
Hiranya Ranawake
Hiranya Ranawake, Sri Lankan Australian contemporary artist, said, “BigCi was my very first experience of an artist residency. This residency is absolutely designed and made to support artists.
BigCi Art Shed has been my home for 4 weeks and I fell in love with the physical and mental space it gave me to create. I was able to use the walls, the floor and larger easels to work freely as I wanted and I never ran out of supplies. Finally, I felt really fulfilled with the upscaled work I have created and I have gained confidence to continue.
I hope to see BigCi’s continued success and more and more artists to benefit from this wonderful facility.”

Residents in Spotlight: May-June 2021
Ira Ferris
Ira Ferris, Sydney multi-disciplinary artist wrote, “I will miss the sounds of birds, the crisp fresh air, and those gorgeous autumnal colours that fed my soul. This is a perfect environment to be in, to think in, to create in. I came to BigCi with an intention to research an idea, but the structure of the BigCi residency enabled me to not only research the idea but bring the project to full fruition. I now see how beneficial this model is – to see the project through, to complete it in the environment for which (and with which) it was created; rather than take it back into the business of the everyday life where it inevitably gets diluted and lost.
It was also lovely to have an opportunity to present the project to the audience at the end of the process and hear them ask questions and share their thoughts. Coming together at the end was both a celebration of the completion and a useful way to receive feedback on the work from others who very generously shared it with us. I am grateful to them for that.”

Residents in Spotlight: May-June 2021
Freedom Wilson

Freedom Wilson, a Blue Mountains printmaker, said, “BigCi has been an extraordinary opportunity to extend my bushwalking skills and confidence, walking to places that I would never have otherwise visited on incredible expeditions led by intrepid bush explorer Yuri Bolotin.
My knowledge and appreciation for the Australian bush and its highly evolved, complex habitats grew immensely during these experiences — as did my knowledge of the threats and solutions determining the future of precious habitat fringing the National Parks.
Studio time at the BigCi Art shed under the dedicated guidance of Rae Bolotin allowed me the space to look back at my own studio habits and work out improved processes and better practice for a more interesting big picture.
Comprehending landscape with a deepened understanding has affected my drawing and printmaking profoundly. I feel a renewed commitment to draw with a hope to know, understand and caress the Greater Blue Mountains landscapes, realising that art is a compelling advocate for these places that I love.
Thank you BigCi – It has been a fantastic experience for me.”

Residents in Spotlight: April-June 2021
Andrea Larkin
Andrea Larkin, Sydney experimental mixed media artist, wrote, “Two residencies back- to-back at BigCi gave me time to prepare and present new work for two Open Days in the company of 7 other artists, each with skills and experience willingly shared. The extended time frame enabled me to relax into the rhythm of the BigCi Art Shed, the bush and the nearby Wollemi National Park. I walked every day and began to take video recordings which documented the landscape and my experimental processes with papers, water and art materials. Making a short video for the June Open Day became an extra professional development opportunity.
I enjoyed meeting the neighbours as well as visiting the weekly fresh food market, Tai Chi classes at the local Hall and meditation with the Buddhist monks at the Mountain Springs monastery. A highlight of my stay was learning about the Pagoda Destination Project at a talk by Yuri at the Gang Gang Gallery as well as two ‘plein air’ drawing sessions on the Newnes Plateau in the unprotected State Forest. It had been a most fulfilling time both professionally and personally.”

Residents in Spotlight: April-May 2021
Vonne Patiag

Vonne Patiag, Sydney film and stage director, author and writer, said, “BigCi was an amazing venue to work in. Being a resident there gave me the time and space needed to delve deep into my writing work, and also gave me a chance to refine my creative development process. You can write on every wall! And you can bush walk from right outside the building for some much needed contemplation. My stay was truly an immersive experience, both in the surrounding natural environment and also the social sphere of Bilpin, which is a pleasant mountain community. And the shared energy with the other artists in the space really lent itself to a productive and collaborative environment. Looking forward to one day returning to Bilpin again (if not for the work, then definitely for the pies!)”

Residents in Spotlight: April-May 2021
Julia Roberts
Painter Julia Roberts said, “My residency at BigCi was a wonderful opportunity to disengage from all the distractions of day to day life and fully immerse myself in my art practice. For a painter of Eucalyptus trees, the beautiful and tranquil setting of BigCi provided the perfect opportunity to do some experimental and exploratory work. Having uninterrupted time to work not only in the expansive Art Shed but en plein air in the bush surrounding BigCi was an extraordinary experience. The ability to open the studio right up with the many roller doors provided not only perfect light to work in but also blurred the usual boundaries between working inside and out. Being able to work simultaneously on so many large pieces en plein air and in the studio was a wonderful experience. The opportunity to go on bush walks with Yuri was an unexpected bonus as was the steady and insightful guidance of Rae. Working alongside such a motivated and engaged group of fellow creatives from different disciplines was also a great motivator and inspiration for my work.”

Residents in Spotlight: April-May 2021
Joachim Froese

Joachim Froese, Brisbane-based photo media artist, wrote, “My stay at BigCi allowed me to immerse myself into my practice and the unique environment into which it was set. The centre of the place is the Art Shed – a purpose-built studio space that includes a small cinema – which is set on a bush property at the edge of the Wollemi National Park. I shared this unique facility with three other artists, and it was a privilege to spend time with these special people. Although we all worked on very different projects, a unique energy developed amongst us that drove our work on and pushed it in unexpected directions.
The place is run by Rae and Yuri Bolotin. Rae, a highly accomplished sculptor, is the soul of BigCi, and her generosity and commitment seem to be endless. Yuri, a dedicated environmentalist, leads challenging bushwalks into the Wollemi National Park and the walks I was able to join will stick in my memory forever. Their passion for this place and the environment around it left a deep impression on me.
I leave BigCi with fond memories, new skills, new friends and colleagues, and a new body of work that could have happened nowhere else.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2021
Camie Lyons
Sydney sculptor Camie Lyons said, “My time at BigCi has been a true gift. To be removed from daily/life obligations and set free in this amazing creative space has been an incredibly productive, surprising and deeply engaging addition to my art practice. Here, with room to explore and experiment, all while being so supported and encouraged by Rae and Yuri, I have found a new language and I know this time will inform all my making for many years to come. The beautiful bush has literally seeped into my abstract making and will always remain part of my journey as a creative. Thank you, with huge gratitude.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2021
Sally Kidall

Sally Kidall, NSW conceptual installation artist, said, “I was thrilled to receive the BigCi Director’s Choice Environmental Award which gave me the opportunity to spend a month exploring the edges of the Wollemi National Park and headspace to develop new research areas into my site-responsive art practice. The supportive community created by the other residents plus Rae & Yuri, our hosts, was fantastic especially after such an isolating year in 2020 during Covid. The regenerative energy of the bush is intoxicating and the magnificent Art Shed building with its vast glass windows allows one to feel immersed into the surrounding bushland. I’m most grateful to Rae & Yuri for their generosity and support during my time here and I can highly recommend Yuri’s adventurous explorative bush walks into the surrounding wilderness.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2021
Heather Matthew
NSW Paper artist Heather Matthew said, “My time at BigCi was characterised by consistent experimentation and creative thinking informed by the bush environment. Having the space and uninterrupted time to create meant I was able to pursue multiple new directions in art making, which will continue to influence my arts practice long after I leave.
The wonderful support and encouragement of both Rae and Yuri provided a safe environment in which to pursue these endeavours. Added to this was the wonderful group of fellow artists who enriched my thinking and making throughout my time at the residency. Thank-you for this opportunity.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2021
Marike van Dijk
Dutch saxophonist and composer Marike van Dijk said, “I hadn’t visited the Blue Mountains before. It was incredible to learn about the history and flora of the Blue Mountains. Seeing aboriginal art in caves around the property, going on (off track) bush walks and just taking that morning walk to grab a coffee at the Grumpy Baker was such a welcome unwind. Interacting with surroundings happens automatically (for me) and I’m sure at some point I’ll end up writing something about the three Angophoras, gum trees, Newnes or Pierces Pass lookout. They all made a lasting impression. I’ve really enjoyed spending time in the Art Shed as well. What a beautiful space to be in, good acoustics, and it has so much space around your head that it makes you imagine and think beyond the things you know. Meeting and spending time with Rae, Yuri, Mark, the Bilpin community and the other residents was lovely as well, I think I’ve made a few new friends! I’d love to come back some time to either visit or write part of my PhD thesis.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2021
Luke Foster
NSW North Coast artist Luke Foster said, “This has been my third residency at the BigCi, and each stay has been better than the last. I must thank Rae and Yuri for being such kind and generous hosts. The highlight of my stay was the collaborative performance with landscape painter Linda Starkey and musician Marike van Dijk performed on Open Day. It involved me and Linda painting in colour acrylic paints on a large sheet of paper while Marike played a saxophone in an improvised manner along with ambient sounds.
I thoroughly recommend BigCi as a residency for any artist whatever their medium. I don’t have a studio, so the large open space of the Art Shed enabled me to draw on a big scale and also present installations of drawings, t-shirts with prints on them from the past twenty years of my art practice, and dvd slide shows.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2021
Linda Starkey
Sydney-based painter Linda Starkey said,
I have just finished a month’s residency at BigCi and it has been an amazing experience. The Art Shed provides fabulous large open work space and very comfortable accommodation with plenty of area to also work in your room. Rae & Yuri are always there to lend support and encouragement. The Art Shed is a unique building, purpose built for creativity to flourish and sits beautifully amongst the bush.
An inspiring place for any artist of any genre to further their works or to create anew.”

Residents in Spotlight: January 2021
Felicity Nicol
Felicity Nicol, Sydney-based theatre director and writer, wrote, “There is something special about BigCi. A gentle surge of possibility and imagination exists between the leaves. Here, there is space to dream, create, be challenged, be frustrated and find your way back again. It’s an artist’s dream. You won’t want to leave.
Rae and Yuri are also the perfect hosts. They brim with curiosity and respect for art and artists. Their generosity of spirit makes you instantly feel at home, and that you, your work and your process are important.
I can’t wait to come back.”

Residents in Spotlight: January 2021
Jody Graham
Jody Graham, Australian multidisciplinary artist, wrote, “I have had numerous visits to BigCi. On this occasion, for the first three weeks I was fortunate to have the whole Art Shed to myself. I used all the walls and different areas, including the kitchen, to expand on ideas and investigate installation options connected to my Wildfire project. It was a real treat to have this opportunity, big space, big ideas, big work. In the last week of my residency, I was joined by Mark Cauvin to collaborate on our Sound Drawings project. Mark is an Australian Experimental Classical Avant-Garde Double Bass Interpreter, Performer, Composer, and Improvisor. We had a wonderful creative time developing a performance piece which showcased an innovative dialogue between the creative disciplines of sound and drawing. Towards the end of the residency, on two occasions, we performed our work, Sound Drawings, in front of an audience.
Many memorable things materialised on this residency, a significant one was connecting with Felicity Nicol, who was staying in the Art Barn. Felicity is an award-winning Performance Director, Writer and Artistic Director from Sydney. She inspired Mark and I, generously sharing tips which we eagerly incorporated into our performance.
The timing of us all being at BigCi was a remarkable treasured coincidence.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2020
Richard Wu
Richard Wu (Sydney), a Sydney based Chinese ink brush artist said, “It has been an inspirational experience at the BigCi, nestled in a great Australian national park setting and close to lovely local community, where the familiar faces run superb restaurants, local green market, and attend Buddhist meditation centre. Rae and Yuri have a deep passion for the environment and built BigCi with recycled concrete, wood, and their love of nature. A highlight of our stay was also the nightly viewing of Australian movies in our very own movie theatre.
This has been a great way to learn about Australia and about ourselves as artists living in nature’s embrace.“

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2020
Catriona Pollard
Natural fibre sculptor Catriona Pollard said, “The bushland setting with the Wollemi National Park a few steps away allowed me to develop a profound connection to the more than human world. This settled into my soul and formed a distinct flow into my work. I created whole new body of work in a short amount of time as a result. The solitude allowed me to focus on my work without distraction. BigCi’s purpose-built Art Shed allows the natural environment inside, which is great for working on nature-inspired artworks. I also loved meeting the warm Bilpin community at the Saturday markets and at the Meditation Centre nearby.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2020
Gary Shinfield
Painter and printmaker Gary Shinfield wrote, “The residency at BigCi provides an opportunity to immerse into a unique Australian environment – the bush lands of the Blue Mountains NSW. In close proximity to untouched wilderness areas, it is a constantly changing an inspiring place.
A vast purpose-built studio with living spaces integrates harmoniously with the surrounding landscape and offers abundant space to create. Striking architecture with walls of glass provides an ongoing exchange between inside and outside.
Rae and Yuri offer friendly assistance in all matters when required. Their guardianship and respect for this relatively untouched place shows a way of living, creating and connecting with this amazing place.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2020
Alexandra Frank
Painter and illustrator Alexandra Frank said, “BigCi was the ideal setting to pursue my desire to get very, very close to the natural world in my art practice and concept. I found here the balance of interaction with the diverse experience of other artists, a perfect natural silence (including meditation with the local Buddhists), bushwalks to teach me more, AND a very enjoyable walk to the gourmet bakery – which definitely helps the creative mind! I was in bliss here.
Rae and Yuri are the most hospitable, lovely, awe-inspiring, inspirational people (and I want to be just like them when I grow up).”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2020
Brenton Schwab
Abstract painter Brenton Schwab wrote, “Living only 2 hours away, I had planned to return home during my 6 week residency, but once in my accommodation and studio space, that plan dissolved.
The accommodation is fully self-contained with all essentials, a well equipped kitchen, fresh linen and a flexible and expansive working space. BigCi is located on the edge of Wollemi NP and its iconic Australian Bush on a quiet no-through road, so the only sounds were from cicadas and birds during the day and frogs at night.
Rae and Yuri go out of their way to make you feel at home, and on my first night Yuri cooked a delicious Dhal for all 4 artists which was served with local cider and local apple pie. Saturday mornings were for visits to the community market with fresh produce and friendly locals, then on Sunday morning I appreciated the meditation at the Mountain Spring Buddhist centre.
Rae and Yuri are both passionate and knowledgeable, which makes them a pleasure to be around, at the same time they leave you to your own resources. Also important to my experience was the interaction with other artists, especially the morning analysis of the Australian movies we watched in the projection room.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-November 2020
Julie Bartholomew
Ceramicist Julie Bartholomew is the Winner of 2019 BigCi Anniversary Award. She said, “I have been a participant in many residencies in Australia and abroad. My BigCi art residency was an exceptional experience, not only because of its location at the boundary of the unique and beautiful Wollemi National Park but also due to BigCi’s purpose-built Art Shed. This open plan building, constructed from recycled materials, was a home, workspace, gallery, quiet space for contemplation and a social hub. Movable interior and exterior divisions could be closed to shield us or opened to allow the natural environment inside. The Bilpin community was so welcoming as I gradually met locals during morning walks, at the Saturday markets, doing research for my project or at the Meditation Centre nearby. Rae and Yuri have created an extraordinary place for artists to spend valuable time thinking, creating, realising projects and making wonderful connections with others.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-November 2020
Luke Foster
It had been the second BigCi residence for the NSW North Coast artist Luke Foster. Luke says, “I had a fantastic stay at BigCi with the filmmaker Mel and ceramic artist Julie. Thanks to Rae and Yuri for making this residency possible. I had a very enjoyable and social time after the social restrictions of Covid. It was great to have such a large space to work on more large-scale ambitious works. Open Day was fantastic with lots of people turning up and getting lots of good feedback on my art.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-November 2020
Melissa Anastasi
Sydney-based film director and writer Melissa Anastasi said, “This residency has been an incredibly fruitful time for me to write a draft of my screenplay Milk & Honey. I came here with the hope to rewrite the treatment and have written a draft of the film. Working alongside the other residents has given me a focus that is difficult to attain working solo. I’ve been inspired by the work of my fellow artists and that has fed back into my own work. Also, the setting in native bushland here in Bilpin has been so peaceful. Thanks to Rae and Yuri for the opportunity and support. I hope to come back to BigCi in future, it is a very special place.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2020
Sally Baldwin
UK textile artist Sally Baldwin wrote, “…it has been an amazingly productive time. Seeing the terrible devastation of the fires firsthand, but also the astonishing regrowth from the most blackened of trees, has been very moving, and inspiring artistically. Rae has been amazingly generous, helpful and kind, and her suggestions about how to show my work were incredibly useful, as I literally couldn’t see the wood for the trees. The initial bushwalks with Yuri were fascinating, although because of the rain didn’t manage as many other walks with him as hoped, but still did a couple of good ones independently. The other artists were great – so interesting and friendly and easy to get along with – and working our way through the library of Australian films in the cinema room every evening with Ted was great fun. An amazing experience, thank you so much!”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2020
Coster Mkoki
Zimbabwean sculptor Coster Mkoki, the  BigCi Invited Artist 2020, said this about his installation shown at our special Open Day in early March, “This work is an immediate response to the loss experienced by the local farmers in the recent bushfires. It is a temporary departure from the chisel sculptures I normally do. In “The Orchard” I showcase a paradoxical order of things, as my installation seems to have a violent and unbalanced side in its setting to discomfort the viewer. It radiates with urgency and compels an emotional response. At the same time, it offers comfort through the use of freshly picked apples.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2020
Ted Heublein
California-based painter Ted Heublein said, “Coming to BigCi has allowed my work to flow more freely in reaction to the environment, the people, and the energy of being together with other artists. Every day I have found something new to appreciate, both large and small. The Art Shed is a very rare and unique structure – an artist studio designed by an artist for artists. There is ample light day and night; the rooms and furniture are designed for move-ability as the project space needs are explored by the artists. BigCi is the only place I have been to with a unique video collection of country-specific movies and documentaries to share with the residents. Rae and Yuri have been encouraging in their interest, their support, and their enthusiasm for our projects. I am thankful for my time here and definitely want to come back to explore some projects you can only work on here in this place with this support.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2020
Chelsea Call
Chelsea Call, an an interdisciplinary artist and art therapist from the USA, said, “My time at BigCi has felt synchronistic. Prior to my residency, and the devastating bushfires, I proposed a project conveying the concept of solastalgia. With the recently altered landscape my work has felt more prevalent. The space Rae and Yuri have created is a beautiful environment for creative and environmental investigations. I had the privilege of joining Yuri for several clean-ups he organized to assist in helping community members affected by the bushfires. The quiet solitude of Bilpin provided me with a container to research and cultivate several bodies of work. The past month has been an experience I will forever cherish. I hope to return to this incredible landscape in the future.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2020
Mike Baldwin
UK-based architect/artist Mike Baldwin wrote, “The residency at BigCi has been a wonderful opportunity to spend four weeks concentrating on art in the most beautiful and inspiring environment. The facilities at BigCi are superb, particularly the extensive space available in the Art Shed. The Wollemi National Park around BigCi is simply stunning. Rae and Yuri’s hospitality was evident right from the start. It has been fascinating being with other artists and seeing their different approaches. The films in the cinema room have been entertaining and provided a great chance to experience a variety of Australian culture and humour. But most of all, the residency has allowed me time to experiment and, with Rae’s encouragement, to change direction. It’s a change of direction which I will be able to continue in the future and so the time at BigCi will have a lasting influence. What more can you ask from an art residency?”

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2020
Jody Graham
Jody said, ” I am a multidisciplinary artist from Sydney, Australia. My practice celebrates the broken, displaced and forgotten, speaking to a compulsion to restore and rescue discarded material with an anti-consumerist and recycling ethos.

I came to BigCi to see and experience The Blue Mountains after widespread bushfires passed though in December 2019. It was astonishing to see an extensive amount of the landscape burnt and void of any apparent life. It was equally shocking to see the discarded items that were uncovered after the mass burning. The detritus left in the trail of recent fires was compelling, and I was driven to collect it for a new body of work.

I went to BigCi with an open mind and empty van. After a few short weeks I will return home with a head swimming with possibilities and a vehicle fully packed with charred remnants.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-December 2019; January-February 2020
Jennifer Dowdell

Jennifer Dowdell, US-based ecological planner, artist and writer said, “From the moment we arrived at BigCi, Rae and Yuri cultivated a strong community of curiosity and creation for all artists. My ten-week stay flew by in a combination of research, field study and bushwalks, interviews, and creative exploration in the studio. Yuri’s passion and knowledge inspired me to dig deeper and also push the bounds of my comfort zone to experience a series of amazing places in the Blue Mountains – from the river canyons of the Wollangambe to the towering pagodas of the Gardens of Stone. Rae’s quiet but strong insistence that we push our artistic boundaries was just the nudge needed to explore a variety of scales and approaches to my interpretation of the Colo River’s landscape ecology and layered narrative. The peace and quiet of Bilpin was a salve from the hectic city life at home, thus providing the space to immerse myself in the landscape and in my work. Being able to experience the landscape both before and after the massive bushfires we had in the Blue Mountains was something unexpected but incredibly important for bearing witness to the impacts of climate change in our modern world. It served to enhance the sense of the importance of art in speaking to our responsibility to care for this planet and its flora and fauna. This had enormous impact on my work and will stay with me as I return home. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back sometime! ”

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2020
Ariella van Luyn
Writer Ariella van Luyn said,
“The space at BigCi is nurturing and productive. Rae and Yuri’s care for the human and more-than-human community, their invitation to really see the environment and ecology, and to meditatively walk in it, is a beautiful gift. My time here has been healing and significant both artistically and personally. It has shifted my thinking, making me wonder how to write historical fiction that offers hope in times of devastation and upheaval. I’m now committed to this on-going practice.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-December 2019
Mischa de Stroumillo
Mischa de Stroumillo, a photographer from the UK, wrote, “My time at BigCi was spent visiting and exploring various bushfire sites around NSW. By chance, my visit coincided with one of the worst bushfire seasons on record. This was a very exhilarating, nerve-wrecking and inspiring time for me. The BigCi residency provided the perfect base to gather my breath and thoughts. The weekly bushwalking trips led by Yuri were incredible – we were able to explore the bush in such depth! Thank you, Rae and Yuri, for your support and this amazing opportunity! A truly unique place!”

Residents in Spotlight: October-December 2019
Kristina Chan
UK-based printmaker and book binder Kristina Chan says, “The residency at the BigCi is a truly unique experience.  The support and feedback, endless knowledge and enthusiasm for any and all questions, no matter how seemingly bizarre or obscure, was incredible. Yuri and Rae, the national parks, the other artists and designers I’ve met here will continue to inspire and shape my practice long after I leave.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-December 2019
This was the second time the Swiss-Dutch painter Moti had come to do a residence at BigCi. She said, “Bushfire threats and bronchitis were the uninvited guests during my residence at BigCi this time, giving it a particular ambience but not preventing me from working steadily and quietly at my large drawings, in the amazing spacious Art Shed studio.
I worked on a triptych, combining images of local blood trees (Angophoras) and medieval reliquary of a virgin from Cologne. Merging timelines into a visual poem, making them resonate with each other.
It was a very inspiring experience.”

Residents in Spotlight: October-December 2019
Lisa Tubach
US-based painter Lisa Tubach said, “The BigCi residency was a continuous feast of natural beauty. Rae and Yuri are amazing directors, providing support and opportunity. I resided/worked in the Barn, which provided an incredible array of bird sightings, gecko and lizard sightings, a wallaby sighting….and so much more. I was able to produce a large amount of solid work in six weeks—an accomplishment difficult to obtain back home. I am eternally grateful for this gift of concentrated time. Thank you for this opportunity!”

Residents in Spotlight: August-October 2019
Tosca Teran
Canadian interdisciplinary artist and the winner of BigCi Environmental Award 2019 Tosca Teran  wrote, “It brings tears to my eyes and an ache in my heart to leave BigCi after 2-months living amongst the Gum, Banksia, Kookaburra, Lyrebirds, Bloodwoods, Wombats, Wallaby, and Fungus that make up life in the Bush. The bushwalks and information Yuri shared with me were educational, often a workout and always fun! Rae’s belief, kindness and diligence, Lilly with her head on my knee when I needed it there. Massively thankful to the artists/curators that chose me to be one of the recipients of the 2019 environmental award- your insight and prescience into how the BigCi residency would influence and inspire my work, not only while there but looking forward into future endeavours, I can hardly begin to articulate here. I am full of gratitude to have had the privilege and opportunity for this experience.”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2019
Margeaux Walter
Margeaux Walter, New York-based performative photographer and the winner of BigCi Environmental Award 2019, said, “Thank you, Yuri and Rae, for giving me a month to explore new project ideas, learn about the Australian bush, and most importantly to have the time and space to think and focus on my work, ideas, and process. The intimate nature of the residency is really special and because of that I have not only left with the foundations for two new projects but also with two new friends. ”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2019
Chris Casali
Sydney artist and arts educator Chris Casali wrote,
‘And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul’. John Muir.
The above quote sums up my experience at the BigCi. For both my art and my research became obsessed with the complexity of our world, our environment, and at Bilpin this environment was the Wollemi and Gardens of Stone National Parks. Two amazing wildernesses that are forever giving.
My research focused on social consciousness and the ethics of influence. The isolation of place and easy access to the bush embellished the quality of thinking and creative practice I knew I needed to explore.
On completion of my stay, I feel rejuvenated with fresh ideas and clarity of thought that will underpin the next phase of my practice. Thank you BigCi.

Residents in Spotlight: July-September 2019
Yao Kai
Chinese painter Yao Kai said, “Thanks for the nice two months! I feel that BigCi is like home, and you are like sister and brother. I have done 36 works here and tried a new style. I was very happy to exchange ideas with you and other artists. I will miss people of Bilpin, miss the rocks, trees, birds, starry sky and rosy clouds, all beautiful things that are here!”

Residents in Spotlight: August-September 2019
Madeleine Shaw
Sydney-based artist Madeleine Shaw said, “My creative growth was palpable. I reveled in the isolation and space to let my mind and body run free in one of the most unique parts of the world. This has been a stepping stone to bigger and better projects for me. To Yuri and Rae, I am forever grateful for the opportunity.“

Residents in Spotlight: June 2019
Ju Won
South Korean artist Ju Won said, “What if I didn’t come to BigCi? I could not even imagine it.
I have never felt or experienced anything like this before.
In this place every day was calm and peaceful, enjoying the beauty of nature and watching the falling stars in the night sky, dreaming and listening to the songs of the wind.
It was healing my heart and mind by creating precious memories and many inspirations.
The other artists who enjoyed the residency life with us were given the lucky opportunity to live in this beautiful nature and to have a happy time. I’m very happy to be able to meet Marc and David.
I really enjoyed my stay at BigCi. Always thanks, Rae and Yuri !”

Residents in Spotlight: June 2019
Marc Yang
Marc Yang, the winner of 2019 BigCi-Red Gate Gallery (Beijing) Residency Exchange Award said, “I had a wonderful time in BigCi. Yuri and Rae are fantastic and really friendly, talked about my project, helped me with everything and showed me around Bilpin. Yuri also took us on some fantastic bushwalks.
One of the highlights was Bilpin weekend market which is a really lovely market where we met a lot of friendly local people.
It was my pleasure to stay four weeks here. Please come to BigCi, and it will become your most wonderful residency experience!
Thanks for Brian and Yuri and Rae and David and Lima and Dylan and many friends. Hope we can meet each other again.”

Residents in Spotlight: June 2019
David Atkins
Adelaide-based sculptor David Atkins is the recipient of the 2018 Palmer Sculpture Biennial Prize which is supported by BigCi residency programme as a part of the prize.

David said about his time at BigCi,
‘A wonderful and life changing experience – thank you, Rae, thank you, Yuri.’


Residents in Spotlight: April 2019
Abigail Ardelle Zammit

Maltese poet Abigail Ardelle Zammit wrote, “BigCi has given me the most precious gift a writer could wish for – a new language filled with the mysterious insinuations of grey-blue bark, of gum trees and eucalypts with their rich vocabulary of names, of stunning pagodas flaunting their ironstone formations, and of uniquely sculptured landscapes. This precious area of NSW offers a palimpsest of silences, of muted light, of ancestral knowledge and evolutionary splendour.
Thanks to the guidance and exceptional enthusiasm of Yuri and his bushwalking companions, who very kindly allowed me to join them on all their canyoning and bushwalking adventures, I started to discover the delicate but resilient ecosystems of the Wollemi National park and of Gardens of Stone, which are currently threatened by the coal mining industry.  Being out in the wilderness was invigorating and exhilarating, but mostly it inspired a new series of poems which allowed me to deepen my practice thanks to new insights concerning the art of representation and the intricate connections between bodily experience, place and language.
What communicated itself to me was not the uncomplicated beauty of Blue Mountains guidebooks, but of a myriad of truths we have barely started to understand.  There were sublime moments where I sensed the pulse of a landscape that has survived European greed, and of a people whose stories are inscribed in the trees, the sandstone and the sky-line, despite all efforts to erase them.
To be at BigCi is to be visited by otherness in its many forms – the other artists on the residency who offered support, inspiring conversations, friendship and soulful food; the wildlife that is often elusive but omnipresent in its rustlings and sharp bird cries; the mountains and deep canyons; the colourfully sculptured caves; the bush, with its secrets and slow unveilings; the mysterious songlines of Aboriginal people whose lives are inextricably linked to their birthplace.  There is so much more to learn, particularly about how to be in the world, so this is simply the beginning of my journey.
I am eternally grateful to Rae and Yuri whose support, insight and generosity of vision has made it possible for so many international artists like myself to be thoroughly immersed in this spectacular part of the world.”

Residents in Spotlight: April 2019
Jan Cleveringa
Sydney artist Jan Cleveringa says, “At BigCi everything was a treasure, the time to make, the dinners with others, the Wollemi and the grounds, the subjective understandings of each perspective of others and the knowledge of the environment: all in the melting pot of new experience.
Now I have a trajectory of some new projects ahead.” A video of Jan’s experience can be seen here.

Residents in Spotlight: April 2019
Alison Ford
Braidwood-based painter Alison Ford said, “Sitting out on the verandah of the barn to eat breakfast with the early morning light streaming through the surrounding bush with little birds popping in and out of the nearby water sculpture, black cockies screeching, kookaburras cackling – these were reasons to spring out of my attic room bed early EVERY morning for the month of my residency. This then set the tone for my day. Later I would stomp up the gravel drive to the Art Shed where I was greeted cheerily, if not sometimes sleepily, by my fellow residents, where we would plan an attack for the day – and then later, change our minds as we responded to weather, the need to walk, touch nature or solitude, or even – work. There are myriad of ways to connect with nature at BigCi – it is inescapable due to the siting of the property so it encroaches on daily life with little need to seek it out and thus it influences unwittingly the work you do. It is up to you the amount you immerse yourself – it is all on offer either on foot or further afield. To share such experiences of the grandiose natural landscapes or gentle walks amongst the fading autumn leaves with others most sensitive to the natural world was indeed a pleasure. ”

Residents in Spotlight: April 2019
Laura Carlson
New Mexico, US-based artist Laura Carlson says, “I am in love with and enraptured by BigCi. After a flight from the U.S. and immediately learning to drive on the other side of the road, my tired self was welcomed heartily at this haven in the eucalyptus forest and that feeling never faded. I soon came to find out Rae and Yuri, BigCi cofounders, had already begun to spread the word through their network, looking for folks who would be familiar with my interests, thus supporting my research practice in a way I haven’t experienced from a residency before. The generosity of Rae and Yuri, to not only create an environmentally focused residency, but also run it by themselves while also being artists, writers and explorers themselves, and do it with such complete dedication is a phenomenal and motivating experience. BigCi is a once-in-a-lifetime residency I will never regret and always miss.”

Residents in Spotlight: April 2019
Olivia Sprinkel
UK writer and photographer Olivia Sprinkel says, “I came to BigCi as part of my journey to visit and research ten different trees around the world to write a book. I was drawn to BigCi by the description of the natural setting and I couldn’t have asked for more from this perspective – a room looking out over the vast treescape of the Wollemi National Park, not to mention just the setting of BigCi itself. Yuri provided an invaluable introduction to the land, and I enjoyed exploring different parts of the area with the other artists. In addition to writing, I was inspired to experiment and take my photographic practice further as well. Rae was wonderfully supportive of this and I enjoyed being able to exhibit my photographs as well as talk about my writing journey at the open day. I enjoyed so much the company of my fellow residents and learning from them, as well as the communal dinners and chats into the evening. There were so many complementary elements between the work that we are doing, thank you to Rae for bringing us all together. I know that what I take away from this beautiful, heart-filled space will continue to grow as I continue on my journey.”

Residents in Spotlight: April 2019
Wendy Jagger
Country Victoria-based artist Wendy Jagger said, “The opportunity to take time out from my busy studio and workshop schedule was just what my practice needed.
My four weeks were spent largely off site, visiting the many stunning sites and painting the gorgeous rock formations. I also had a solo trip to the Lost City and then onto Newnes over three days, which produced a swag of work. Yuri’s bushwalks were great and he gave excellent advice to help me with painting locations. Rae was always a calm source of advice when you needed it.
Working in the Art Shed in large, flexible spaces was bliss and then being able to move the studio outside onto the dam jetty or on the paved veranda in the sunshine allowed for an easy work flow. Coming together with my fellow residents to share each other’s cooking was wonderful and we are all leaving with five new friends. I created a good body of new work, which will help me move forward towards my next solo exhibition.”

Residents in Spotlight: January – March 2019
Yumo Wu and Yannis Zhang

Beijing artists Yumo Wu and Yannis Zhang said, “When we came to Bilpin from Beijing, from the city to the forest, our heart changed from impetuous to quiet, we began to forget the pressure from the urban existence and to reflect on our daily life and future path. In these three months, we learned how people get along with each other. Without borders, we also learned to get along with nature. This dream-like life was in stark contrast to our rapid urban life. After we returned to Beijing, we have been thinking about the relationship between city and nature. This trip has indeed changed our views, and our life has undergone tremendous changes. It will hopefully now become minimalist, light and thought-rich, not like consumerism. Thanks to Rae and Yuri for letting us experience the truth of life and the beauty of nature.”

Residents in Spotlight: February – March 2019
Ivan Juarez
Ivan Juarez (Mexico/Spain), Winner of BigCi 2018 Environmental Award, says, “My experience in BigCi has been unique and worthwhile. Rae and Yuri shared with us all their hospitality, knowledge and great support. It has been an inspiring experience and I will keep my memories very deep. For four weeks I had the opportunity to meet and live together with extraordinary artists and excellent people, surrounded by an inspiring landscape and sceneries. I had the opportunity to interact, learn and create in the unique natural ecosystem of Blue Mountains, experimenting the harmony of pristine native habitats and bonding with local community. During my four-week residency I had also the opportunity to experience Yuri`s canyoning and bushwalks, activities that provided me with a better understanding of the natural surrounding and gave me a broader approach to develop my art work.”

Residents in Spotlight: January – March 2019
Sandy Hansen
US-based artist Sandy Hansen says, “BigCi has been a wonderful opportunity for me. I have been on residencies before, but this one was different. It is not just that they have a modern exciting environmentally sound and beautiful building with plenty of indoor and outdoor studio space. The lush environment outside, the proximity to the Wollemi National Park and the exciting hikes organized by Yuri certainly made a difference. Other artists introduced me to some curators and I found a papermaking guild. I went to openings and galleries in Sydney. All of these things make BigCi a cut above any other residency. But what made the biggest difference between the other residencies that I have been to is one person, Rae Bolotin. She organized a professional exhibition at the end of the residency, which about 50 people attended. Even this doesn’t make this the best residency. Mrs Bolotin has a kind and calming influence. As a house is not a home, a residency is not great without great leaders. BigCi has the space, the location, aesthetic beauty and a great leader who can keep everyone on track and happy.”

Residents in Spotlight: February – March 2019
Gao Peng
Beijing photographer and artist Gao Peng said, “BigCi is a quiet and energetic artist residence, surrounded by abundant plants and beautiful environment that I have never experienced before. Our six artists from different places spent four very happy weeks here, and we often had tea and chat together during our art making. Being here was very helpful for our artistic creation. Thanks to everyone. I really liked BigCi and hope to have chance to come again.”

Residents in Spotlight: January – February 2019
Sonja Hinrichsen
US-based artist and the winner of the 2015 BigCi Environmental Award Sonja Hinrichsen said, “My stay at BigCi was productive and also fun. I enjoyed being able to dedicate so much focused time to my artwork – without the distractions of normal life. I also loved having so much space to spread out and experiment working in ways that would normally not be available to me due to lack of space.
I also greatly enjoyed the natural setting of the residency itself as well as the opportunity to explore environments close-by in fieldtrips with the group of artists and bushwalks with Yuri. I was fascinated by the otherness of this land compared to the lands/continents where I grew up and where I live now. I learned a lot and I hope that some of my fascination and awe reflected in my artwork as well. I hope to be able to come back some time.”

Residents in Spotlight: January – February 2019
Kate Crawford
Sydney artist Kate Crawford said, “The Angophora had just dropped their bark for the year when I came to BigCi. Being surrounded by these trees with salmon-pink skin that morph and mould themselves to their environment was just one encounter that made BigCi such a special place. The unpredicted brushes with the locals were the highlights for me. Meeting a native wasp whose exerted buzzing made a cameo appearance on a field recording as I watched its repeated journeys carrying leaves the size of its body which it tucked into a hole next to my head at Sunset Rock. Also meeting Hecko the Gecko – the broad-tail gecko who seemed to live with a friend behind the fridge deserves a special mention. BigCi provided both the mental and physical space to push my practice further. Adventuring with Yuri in the canyons of the Blue Mountains or visiting the local farmers market buying fresh local produce and having a cup of tea with Rae just added to the already wonderful experience. Wollemi is a magical part of the world. Being situated at BigCi and exploring this part of the world was an unforgettable privilege.”

Residents in Spotlight: January 2019
Patricia Abela
Patti Abela says, “As an artist residing in the Blue Mountains, I had many ideas for artwork from my experiences in this spectacular landscape. BigCi allowed me the opportunity and time to further explore these ideas in a professional, unique and exquisite environment.
My artwork is a response to the flora and fauna of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Park. I work with found natural objects as well as paper, ink, crayon and charcoal.
I referenced found insects and animals that had died. I tried capturing their passing from life. Some of these amazing creatures are sadly listed as endangered or vulnerable. I feel there is a great urgency to bring awareness to protect these animals because one day they may no longer exist. I would like to kindly thank Rae and Yuri Bolotin at BigCi for supporting me as an artist in residence at BigCi. BigCi is truly a remarkable environment to be in. ”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2018
Elise Eeraerts and Roberto Aparicio
Elise Eeraerts (Belgium), the co-winner of 2018 BigCi Environmental Award, collaborated with Roberto Aparicio (Spain/Belgium) on the project they did at BigCi. They said, “The reward of working in and around the residency’s property has been a great opportunity to explore a new kind of natural environment. The place – we were in the barn – is surrounded by trees, shrubs and animal life. Especially the birds with their variety in colour and sounds is hard to miss after having left. The whole experience will definitely have a lasting impact and keep on bringing new thoughts for future works.
Joining Yuri’s walks was a unique experience and truly amazing. Walking with a specialist and off track was something new for us, that definitely influenced our feeling of being present and working in the bush. It gave a sense of freedom. Especially going in the Wollangambe canyon and its surrounding with wetsuits was unforgettable and surreal (the Whungee Wheengee part specifically). It is very rare to be in a place and feel as if being in a dream. We are very grateful for this.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2018
Margaret Cowie
Scottish artist Margaret Cowie said, “My time at the BigCi has been rejuvenating, inspiring and above all has helped me through a period of personal grief.
As soon as we arrived, Yuri guided us on short walks through the surrounding bush, part of which is the Wollemi NP. His knowledge is staggering and I struggled to note it all down!! I soon became infected with a kind of passion to be out there alone exploring the wonders the area had to offer. Most days I did so. The Wollemi has filled me with awe and although for fitness reasons I could not go on Yuri’s longer adventures to places like the Garden of Stone I was able to make shorter excursions to the Walls and Rigby Hill to experience other wonders of the Blue Mountains. This place has influenced my very being in ways I wouldn’t have dreamt. It has saved me mentally and creatively. The powerful Australian sun taught me a lot more about the cyanotype process to which I am addicted and I filled many pages in sketchbooks of the natural surroundings with other mediums. I had the wonderful company of the other international artists, we shared many stories and topics from our own countries. This experience has been a unique, and special time and the swims in the dam on hot and sometimes cold days an extra special highlight.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2018
Shujiro Murayama
Shujiro Murayama, Japan is a recipient of the Asialink exchange program (a partnership between Move Arts Japan Artist In Residence Program 2018 and BigCi, supported by Asialink and the Japan Foundation). He wrote, “Shujiro Murayama walked through the forest of the Wollemi National Park for many days.
He found completely different plants and scenery than at any mountains he had ever been to.
The rocks and eucalyptus trees made it feel as if the forest was alive.
He saw a lot of trees in the forest that had burned. Among these, he found many that were still alive despite being half burned.
He felt a strong sense of nature’ s power from this contrast between the green of the living plants and the black colour of the burnt charcoal.
The artist painted Wollemi rocks and trees.
He also painted with charcoal from trees burned in forest fires, sap from eucalyptus trees, and pond water.
Moreover, he made rocks into powder and mixed this with eucalyptus sap and pond water.
He chose to express the inspiration and playful quality he found in aboriginal mural paintings.
He returned all plants and rocks used back to the earth. This is to ensure that he never forgets to pay respect to all living things.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2018
Farnaz Dadfar

Iranian born Australian artist Farnaz Dadfar said, “Deep, deep down into silence and solitude surrounded by the overwhelming beauties, tree, rock, bird, water…that’s how my creative journey begins at BigCi. The inspiring location and the supportive environment enabled me to create a site-specific installation. I absolutely enjoyed making a new body of work while having great conversations with other artists and exchanging ideas. I’m truly grateful to Rae and Yuri for this amazing and unforgettable experience. They are generous and welcoming, and I’m sure that I’m not the only artist who hopes to return some day.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2018

Swiss-Dutch artist Moti says, “Loved it. A form of retreat from normal life, combining just working in the spacious Art Shed and being in unspoilt nature, with all senses open.
For me, nature was the setting, not the subject. Nature (especially in the Blue Mountains, so powerful) so fills me with amazement, that I only want to walk or contemplate in it, not be creative about it.
BigCi was a blessed container where I could totally let go, having nothing else to do but work. Slowly but intensively, I made drawings of facets of life that leave me with perplexity and wonderment, and that will eventually grow into a high wall. With welcoming breaks in the bush and in the pond for a swim (the one with brown but very pure water, often smooth like glass, cradled amongst the high trees that are mirrored in it).
I’m happy and grateful that I found Rae and Yuri, who created BigCi with its spectacular Art Shed, and who are so dedicated to this project, to the visiting artists, and to art in general.
Last but now least, I think that the Open Days are quite unique events, unusual in the art scene: the focus is really on sharing art, for the pleasure, the interest, the exchange.
And the concept of having the artists offering workshops/performances at the end is also very interesting, as they invite the spectator to get involved in a different way in the art.
Loved it!”

Residents in Spotlight: November 2018
Wendy Tsai

Blue Mountains artist Wendy Tsai said,
“I am a painter living in Katoomba. The residency enabled me to visualise and plan a large drawing installation for the Expose exhibition space in the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Gallery in Katoomba. My work tracks the large natural watercourse of Kedumba Creek to Katoomba Falls and will eventually cover an exhibition area of 14 by 6 metres. The Art Shed space and time in residency enabled me to work with scale and play with the kinds of imagery that represent my experience of this special natural environment. Having Moti as another artist in residence gave another layer to the integrity of the project and my identity as an artist. Rae also provided valuable feedback and reflection on the project in process. My time at BigCi was invaluable.”

Residents in Spotlight: August-September 2018
Mohini Mehta

Indian artist Mohini Mehta says, “I am so happy to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the BigCi residency. My 4 weeks at the BigCi went by so quick. It’s situated at the most beautiful place with peaceful surrounding in the Blue Mountains National Park. Rae and Yuri have been the most wonderful hosts. The Art Shed provides a perfect studio space in the nature for the development of artistic process.
My time here has enabled me to move out of my comfort zone. My work has been inspired by the surrounding and transformed in terms of size. Being a landscape painter, the surroundings, walks and hikes around the BigCi have left a lasting impression on me. Exploring the Australian landscape was an amazing experience. I got a lot of work done during my stay. I along with other artists I would go for sunset walks every day to the Wollemi National Park, which was a good time to interact and exchange thoughts and ideas.
Can’t believe 4 weeks have come to an end. Would definitely love to come back here. Thank you, Rae and Yuri, for the experience of a lifetime.”

Residents in Spotlight: August-September 2018
Matt Keegan
Sydney musician Matt Keegan says, “The BigCi is a beautiful and inspiring place. Rae and Yuri are champions of art and nature. They create an atmosphere that is extremely conducive to nurturing artistic process. The facilities are outstanding. The surrounding parklands are a wonder to behold and have a powerful positive influence on the work produced there. My two week stay was incredibly productive and I am looking forward to putting all the music I composed there to good use.”

Residents in Spotlight: August-September 2018
Arrietty Wacshmann
Sydney artist Arrietty Wacshmann says, “My time at BigCi was amazing! It was extremely informative for my artistic practice and I learnt so many amazing things about the Australian landscape. Whilst there, I was working on dyeing textiles with natural pigments, and BigCi was the perfect location for that. Being in such a peaceful and inspiring place, I got lots of work done, however, every evening, other artists and I would go and see the sunset from Wollemi National Park, which was very grounding and a good break! I highly recommend this residency to any and all creatives. Thanks so much to Rae and Yuri!”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2018
Yiy Zhang
Chinese artist Yiy Zhang says, “I am very glad to be the winner of the new exchange program between Red Gate Gallery, China and BigCi in Australia. During the 4 weeks residency in BigCi I have received much more than I expected. Rae’s very generous help and Yuri’s bush adventures, as well as the harmony with the other artists, are very memorable experiences. When first I went on the bushwalk, everything reminded me the law of creation, and my inspiration was in turmoil.
I quickly decided what my work “The Shell” will be. I also finished “Hyperion” during my stay. Whilst here, I felt like I am a time traveller going back to the old land. No matter how human society and technology develops in the future, Nature already taught us everything.
I can’t believe that we finish the 4 weeks already, THANK YOU Rae and Yuri, it is a very special memory. The story of Australia is unfolding for me and I hope we will see each other again.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2018
Terri McFarland
San Francisco-based painter and landscape designer Terri McFarland said, “As forewarned, I found that the 4 weeks at BigCi went all too quickly. I really appreciated the ingenious design of the Art Shed that allowed us artists to quickly set up a working studio- the magnetic walls for reference materials, sketches and notes; the roll up garage doors for light and ventilation. And then the same space was quickly transformed into an exhibition space for Open Day. I will continue to explore the landscape forms and colours of the Blue Mountains, Gardens of Stone and Wollemi National Park for some time to come. Thank you for your generous support and inspiration.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2018
Glenda Kent
South Australian artist Glenda Kent said, “The past four weeks at BigCi residency have enabled me to move out of my comfort zone of working solely with glass, which is a very controlled medium.  The diversity of artists in residence has enriched my experience, as there is a culture of sharing ideas and knowledge, which has enhanced my practice.
The Blue Mountains provide a wondrous playground to explore and glean inspiration to produce art.
Four weeks at BigCi have passed so quickly, but the moments of inspiration are not controlled by time, as the facilities are available 24/7.
Thank you, Rae and Yuri, for this rewarding experience.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2018
Mels Dees
Dutch artist Mels Dees says, “My focus during the residency was on one of the many loose strands in my work: stereo photography, firstly developed at an artist’s residency in Launceston 12 years ago.
This time I wanted to add foreign 3D elements to the manipulated image. It took many hours of solitary work at the computer to develop the technique, and it was the simplicity and directness of the Australian bush landscape around me that helped. By accident I discovered a way to combine a 19th-century stereo viewer with my iPad, which provided an excellent way to immerse the spectator in the scenes I designed.
All in all, I feel I have broached new ground, which I am going to develop further. The medium of stereo photography is rather removed from the main path of artistic endeavour, so it was a bit hard to share it with other participants at BigCi. However, the general atmosphere was encouraging, and it was good to have access to a superb 2D printing machine, which enabled me to explore the differences between 2D and 3D images.
Now I am going to develop the results in Holland and possibly in other places, but I feel that the initial ideas could only have been born and developed in the life, light and landscapes of Tasmania, Australia and BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2018
Mariëlle van den Bergh
Eindhoven-based artist Mariëlle van den Bergh said, “Searching through the website of BigCi and googling images didn’t prepare me for the astonishing beauty and size of Greater Blue Mountains National Parks. I asked Yuri Bolotin, bushwalker and explorer, how many of these landscapes exist in the world. The Gardens of Stone are unique in the world and are a World Heritage. The ecological balance of vulnerable areas such as Wollemi National Park is precarious. I greatly value the work Yuri and Rae are doing as environmentalists; they are teaching artists and others to open up to the beauty of nature and its fragility; it only can be destroyed once.
Rae’s library of Australian films was a treasure box, with classics, controversial and disturbing films, all featuring the Australian landscape as a background. I feasted my eyes on the wild, empty, dusty and diverse outback, deserts, ocean beaches, rock formations, bushes, and primal nature. I got a rare view into what Australian films are about.
BigCi is an artist residency, and Rae Bolotin has a keen eye for what makes an interesting mixture of artists. Last month, we had a great chemistry between the artists in residence, all from different fields. The results were seen during the Open Day.
I did two things: prepared a big textile installation that I have to produce for next year’s solo exhibition in Museum Rijswijk in The Netherlands. It will be based on the rock formations in the Wollemi National Park. I made several ink drawings and did some bushwalks to see the pagodas of stone myself. I also mad a paper art sculpture: a tree.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2018
Quirijn Dees

Dutch audio-visual artist Quirijn Dees said, “The four weeks that I spent at BigCi were wonderful. The property of BigCi was already amazing, but I even witnessed more of the unique nature and stunning environment on the bush walks that I joined. We were with a great group of artists also, and it was a good experience to work at this place with each other. The open day was very inspiring for future work as well. As this is my first residency, I’d say that it was a great success!”

Residents in Spotlight: June 2018
Margaret Johnston

New Zealand sculptor Margaret Johnston said, “I was attracted to BigCi because of its environmental bias and by the fact that Rae was a highly regarded sculptor. My expectations were quickly exceeded, as Rae and Yuri and their purpose-built Art facility allowed me the time and focus to challenge and grow my art practice. Responding to the natural environment, the quiet isolation and the supportive community spirit, I was able to explore a totally new direction in my art-making. Rae and Yuri must be congratulated on creating such an inspiring environment that fosters and encourages artistic development. Thank you so very much.”

Residents in Spotlight: June 2018
Elaine Pawlowicz
Dallas, USA-based painter and academic Elaine Pawlowicz said, “BigCi provided great intensity for my art practice. I challenged myself daily to truly look and see the complex colours and forms within the Wollemi National Park. I am privileged to have witnessed such divine beauty. I was memorized by shifting light creating so many tints and shades on the figurative branches of the Eucalyptus trees. I combined my surreal narratives about my Texas house and neighbourhood with this new universe. I experimented with a new canvas format, painting approach, composition and palette. The high impact of this residency will be with me for many years to come. I am grateful to Yuri and Rae for this great opportunity. I am also grateful to have met Maggie Johnson from New Zealand, an amazing artist and studio mate, along with so many supportive members of the community.”

Residents in Spotlight: May 2018
Gary Nunn
Sydney-based writer and journalist Gary Nunn said,
What a week!|
I came to this residency with 27,000 words of my novel written, My hope, during the week, was to double that (in addition to re-reading and editing what I’d already written). I wasn’t sure if I was being overly-ambitious.
I write this now, having yesterday written two of the most satisfying words of my entire novel: The end.
I have a total of 79,556 words (actually 79,554 if you don’t include the words ‘the end’). An average novel is 80,000 words.
I took me four years to get to 27k words and just a week to get to 79k. As a journalist, all I really needed to give myself was a word count and a deadline!
It’s just a first draft – now the real work starts – but I’m so pleased with how productive this week away from it all has been.
To get away from the distractions, temptations and habits of my Sydney life was invaluable. Thank you.
Twitter: @garynunn1

Residents in Spotlight: May 2018
Alice Allan
Melbourne-based poet Alice Allan said, “My short stay at BigCi has truly been a turning point for my work. After only managing to carve out small moments of concentration back home, I suddenly had all the time, space and freedom I needed to focus and finally bring my manuscript to completion. With the Wollemi National Park less than a minute’s walk from my room, any time I felt stuck I could go across the road, sit quietly and wait for the next solution to surface.”
PS On 18/09/18, we received this update: “I’m getting in touch with some exciting news – my manuscript was accepted! By the publishers I sent it to on the last day of the retreat, no less. I’m in something of a state of shock, but I just had to let you know asap. I’m thinking very fondly of that white wall with all the magnets/paper all over it – without that, and without the time and space and quiet at BigCi, this would NOT have happened.”

Residents in Spotlight: March -May 2018
Ori Roe
Ori Roe, painter from Philadelphia, USA said, ” The location of BigCi allowed me to explore the seriousness of my artistic self, framed by the astoundingly diverse wildlife of the Blue Mountains. The clean air nourished my body enabling my mind to move stones of long obstructed rivers. I learned abstract, wonderful lessons from the land, fellow residents at BigCi, and the local community in addition to the technical skills garnered from 7 weeks of focused work. More specifically, BigCi helped me learn about practice, technique, and curating experience for the viewer. I am grateful for this to be my first residency experience, as feel sufficiently prepared anticipating my next. Thank you BigCi.”

Residents in Spotlight: March -May 2018
Jihye Park
South Korean painter Jihye Park said, “During the time at BigCi I have solely focused on my work. I was able to work from morning till night and research extensively, coming up with new thoughts and new work.
The surroundings have become a very important part of my experience. I lived in an amazing environment filled with nature, and I felt that my research was getting me closer and closer to my goal. However, the research work does not end at BigCi and will continue at home. At first, it was a difficult and unfamiliar environment to me, but the people here helped me to adapt well. Thanks to Ori, my artist mate, and Rae and Yuri.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2018
Jody Graham
Sydney-based Jody Graham is the recipient of the BigCi 2017 Directors Choice Environmental Award. This was her third stay here. She says, “Coming to BigCi makes me want to move outback and live in a shack and make art all day. The best part of my experience has been the opportunity to create work from morning to night. To do that in an environment with like-minded people was motivating and stimulating. On each occasion here, I have been transfixed by how the natural world connects and our relationship to those connections. Creating work that has been chiefly inspired by whiskey grass, birds, sticks, sap and mud. Preferring all after the rain.  After the rain, the Australian bush comes alive. The clouds part, birds flutter and fly about, insects look for new dry homes. Trees glisten with a wet sheen. Everything has been cleansed and a deep sense of profound new optimism is palpable. ”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2018
Susan Gourley
Brisbane-based artist Susan Gourley says, “Studying for a Doctor of Visual Arts, I recently spent six weeks at BigCi as part of my postgraduate research. Backing on to UNESCO’s World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park, this incredible space has exceptional facilities and stunning surrounds.
Hosted by Rae and Yuri, this artist residency has provided an array of wonderfully unique experiences that will continue to shape and inform my practice and worldviews for a long time to come. Highly recommended.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2018
Luke Foster
NSW North Coast-based artist Luke Foster said, “My stay at BigCi was a wonderful opportunity to develop my art practice. Initially I wanted to make a series of drawings about famous people from New York City as a testament to my backpacking holiday there from two years ago. I wanted to make art that was light-hearted and funny as a departure from my self-involved angst-ridden drawings.
However, once I was here at BigCi, I only did three drawings about New York and then made a whole series of self-portraits and figures with placards with text and flags with text. Then I moved onto crowds of people with their eyes closed in meditation or prayer and the placards and flags were blank as an open-ended expression of community. The drawings became an open-ended diary of my stay at BigCi documenting my everyday experiences and emotions. Then I started an artist book about the importance of mother’s love. I want to thank Rae and Yuri and the other artists for providing a supportive fun environment to live and make art.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2018
Beni Altmueller
Austrian sculptor Beni Altmueller said,

“I had a very good time here in BigCi. We made wonderful bushwalks with Yuri and I found a lovely wombat poo. A souvenir for my daughter.

I made also art in this time. The interaction with my colleagues has been great.

Thanks a lot to all for these experiences.”


Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2018

Maria Markovich
US-based artist Maria Markovich said, ” Upon arrival in BigCi, the Eucalyptus trees were shedding and there was lots of bark on the ground. This was very welcome inspiration. On my first bush walk, a large scarlet and royal blue bird alighted on a distant tree. This Crimson Rosella was the first of many parrots that I would see in the wild for the first time. The scribbly bark, stringy bark and bark of the Sydney Red Gum were rich, plentiful and all new to my artistic practice. Despite or perhaps because of the many wonderful distractions, the residency was a highly productive period for creating my life size figurative sculpture in the context of the Blue Mountains of the Australian bush. This residency was a tremendous experience, which would not have been possible without the vision, dedication and hard work of Rae and Yuri, the welcoming community of Bilpin, and the talent, intellect and humor of the other residents from around the world. I especially want to thank our Australian resident artist, Betra, for her incredible hospitality, including a field trip to see kangaroos in their natural habitat.”

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2018
Francesca Hyde
UK-based circus artist Francesca Hyde says, “My time at BigCi marked a turning point in my career. I went to the residency to see how the environment could affect my artistic practice; BigCi was a very rich and inspiring place in which to do this. I am a circus artist, and this was my first venture in making live art. I spent the month making work with the trees, the bark, the residency dog Lilly, the other artists, the wind, another circus artist Skye Gellmann, my ropes, pulleys, my long-term collaborator Tank (a 20 litre water tank) and the books in the library among many other things. I started looking at my work from the perspective of Object Oriented Ontology, which shaped my experience there. ”
For more info, see: https://residencyreflections.wordpress.com/
The residency was supported by the Arts Council England and the British Council through the Artist International Development Fund

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2018
Coster Mkoki
Zimbabwean/South African sculptor Coster Mkoki said, “When I was told that I was the first artist from Africa to visit BigCi I thought, “This is just too much, Coster! You have pushed yourself to the edge and too far”. Usually I enjoy experimenting with space, time and different media but this time I had a real test of my medicine! There I was seating on a wood pile under the shadow of the great angophora and wondered how to get started. A myriad of ideas flooded in my mind, but none came to fruition, until I remembered… The bushwalk in the beautiful Wollemi Park. I thought of those special moments walking far behind Yuri! Insightful discussions with Rae. The talks with artists in the kitchen. The prayers I said to my Lord after my sculpture broke. This reminded me of the primary purpose of my stay at BigCi. It was not about working in my usual studio full of tools or my comfort zone, but it was going with other options to create sculptures, researching, digging deep and about rediscovering myself. I remembered driving into the woods with Lionel to get some wood to sculpt, meeting Roland in the hardware shop, discussing mushrooms and biodiversity with David and Mei-Ling. Being driven to Toolo in Katoomba for tools. Singing with Betra, Maria and Fran our theme song “Three little birds… don`t worry about a thing” was great encouragement and fun!! It was then in the calmness of my mind, great inspiration came and I did create work. Hallelujah! My special moment was when we made “edible art” for the open day! The African cuisine: The menu: Sadza (Pap), Zimbabwean dish-Mufushwa unedovi (sundried kale with peanut butter), chakalaka and Boerewors (South African beef sausage). ”Oh that is yummy”, the people said! My BigCi stay was a wealth of experience, eventful and was indeed tasteful! What a great place to be: BigCi! Thanks for the opportunity!”

Residents in Spotlight: January-February 2018
Mei-ling Hom and David McClelland
Mei-ling and David (Art2Grow, Philadelphia, USA) are co-winners of the BigCi 2017 Environmental Award. Here is what they said about their stay:
“Our Art and Farming residency at BigCi was an extraordinary experience which taught us about the flora of New South Wales through the expertise and generosity of the local horticultural, farming, and environmental community. They shared with us not only their plant knowledge but also the warmth, pluck, and resilience of Australian culture – what better introduction to this down under continent could anyone wish for!”
Mei-ling Hom

“Rolling into the Australian landscape for the first time is a primal experience for all the senses; the rich mix of dust and eucalyptus oil in the nose, the strident cackle and scream of the birdlife, the southern light rippling the forests of bright gum trunks, the sparkle of Hillbilly cider on the tongue tip, and the byplay between frigid canyon water and baking sunlight on the skin.
These experiences of my residency at BigCi are the stimulus for the work we accomplished on the native flora garden. We called it Jie Jing Gardens of Stone Borrowed Landscape because we were inspired by the surroundings and we used the Chinese concept of Jie Jing to borrow these landscapes around the Blue Mountains and Gardens of Stone to create a microcosm on the little hillock at the front of the property. Between the native plants and the wooden sculptures we tried to capture our emotional response to a new and different continent and we have planted and set free to grow our thoughts.”
David McClelland

Residents in Spotlight: January 2018
Han Qing

Han Qing is from Beijing, and this was his 3rd residency at BigCi. He said, “I like that it is very quiet here, no distractions, only my work. Being here makes me feel more relaxed. I spend a lot of time thinking, reading, drinking tea and doing more thinking. The work I started here in BigCi, my new ideas, I will continue when I am back in Beijing. There are many trees around my BigCi studio. I look at them through the window. Outside the window, is natural world. Inside is only a small space. Many people live only inside. I’d like my life to be outside and combined with natural world. Beautiful worlds, inside and outside. I hope I will be back soon, to make new works and do more bushwalks…”

Residents in Spotlight: January 2018
Chen Fei
Chen Fei says, “I am from Beijing. This is my first trip to Australia. I came from winter to summer. From a dusty, grey city, to the blue sky and white clouds. From the beginning, I had a strong feeling about this new place and space. It allowed me to change the old thinking of Beijing and open to new ideas.
Here everything is clean, and there are no material obsessions, only untouched nature. This purity is a subject of my new work. I would like to continue with this idea after the residency. I hope I can come here again, spend longer time and create new and interesting works.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2017
Trapper Robbins

American multi-instrumentalist, composer and rock musician Trapper Robbins says, “BigCi provided an incredibly rich and inspirational setting for full immersion into my project — writing and recording all new music for my next album. The close connection and access to the surrounding wilderness is dramatic and essential. The creative energy from my fellow artists provided insight and motivation. And, above all, Rae and Yuri are an overflowing wealth of generosity, support, and knowledge. The songs developed quickly and went in surprising and unforeseen directions – places they wouldn’t have travelled without BigCi. This residency far exceeded my expectations in all regards and the results will speak for themselves. (Also, apple pie!)”
Click here for the album, ” Gardens of Tone”, released by Trapper in March 2018. All songs were recorded at BigCi.

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2017
Lucilla Candeloro
Italian artist Lucilla Candeloro said, “I stayed four weeks in BigCi and I’m infinitely grateful for this positive experience. It has allowed me to spend some time really close to a magnificent landscape and a unique environment so different from my own, and to continue on my artistic research of natural textures, experimenting with new materials like sand and bloodwood that I have utilised in my paintings.
If your work is about nature, this is the perfect place. The studio is completely surrounded by an unspoiled countryside, with beautiful trees and rocks. The place is very quiet and wild. The walks around the Art Shed will give you the right focus and different new starting points. Yuri’s appealing bushwalks are a great source of inspiration and therefore are strongly recommended. The kindness and calmness of Rae will help you to define your project.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2017
Ella Ballhousen
Sydney-based video artist and photographer Ella Ballhousen says, “I will be thinking about my residency at the BigCi long after I leave. My time here was precious. It has been an experience of peace, pleasure and practice.
From Yuri and Rae, I have learnt to feel at greater ease in the Australian landscape. Together they have nurtured my passions for art and adventure. Walks with Yuri have inspired my conceptual development at the BigCi. His bushmanship and insight into the Great Blue Mountains landscape is unparalleled. Rae has been a generous source of support and advice. Her works on the property are iconic and are conjured when I think about the BigCi.
Being a person who can feel most comfortable in nature, the BigCi’s location has been an opportunity for me to live and work on the edge of a National Park. Looking out of my bedroom window every morning I am immediately greeted by the Wollemi. The BigCi has encouraged me to pursue my passions and produce a new body of work that outlives my time here.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2017
Roxanne Everett
Seattle-based Roxanne Everett says, “I came to BigCi in large part due to its proximity to Blue Mountains, Wollemi and Gardens of Stone National Parks. As a (US) landscape painter with a background and interest in forest ecology, I wanted to learn about a new ecosystem and explore those new colours, patterns, textures and shapes through my work. BigCi did not disappoint! The area’s ecology proved to be both diverse and wonderful. Furthermore, Rae’s kind and gentle guidance combined with Yuri’s knowledge of the bush was a perfect blend for making my stay both memorable and productive. The work I started at BigCi launched the beginning of a new body and style of paintings for me. I will always be grateful for this opportunity and know that the work begun here will carry me forward for a long while.”

Residents in Spotlight: November-December 2017
Justin Neal
US playwright and script writer Justin Neal says: “I wanted to return to Australia after twenty years away and reconnect with a place that I bonded with as a young adult for a number of months. BigCi — with its access to nature, a key component in my work — seemed like an excellent candidate. And it came through wonderfully. A great source for inspiration, BigCi is strengthened by Rae’s amazing artistic support, and Yuri’s opportunities for exploration of the extraordinary Blue Mountains and the Wollemi. One surprise bonus was Rae’s fostering Australian cinema by building the projection room’s library. I was only able to scratch the surface of all Australian films she has secured, including a number of Aboriginal Australian movies I’d never seen before. These movies and perspective helped give an added dimension to my work. This unique place took my practice further; it was a joy to see it do so for other artist residents, too.”

Residents in Spotlight: November 2017
Amaya Lang
Sydney artist Amaya Lang says, “I can’t recommend BigCi enough. It’s in a quiet, dreamy location surrounded by the bush and bordering on the Wollemi National Park. Rae and Yuri and tremendous hosts, who are both lovely and very generous with their time. Yuri’s extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the bush was inspiring and I gained a new appreciation for the Australian wilderness. He gave the residents the option to go on exploratory walks with him, which is such a rare and precious opportunity. Rae offers support in the development of your work, is always open to chat and gives excellent advice.
I stayed in the art shed in a beautiful sunny room. The art shed is a large open space offering multiple places to work, as well as a small library of great art and nature books, and a projector room with an awesome and broad collection of Australian films. BigCi is a special place and I feel very grateful for my time here.”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2017
Itamar Freed
American/Israeli artist Itamar Freed said, “My time as a BigCi resident was priceless. It was one of the strongest, most inspiring experiences that I have had as an artist. Bilpin gave me the space to research my inner world, dive into new techniques and to expand the boundaries of my work. Rae was very welcoming and gave each artist total support throughout the residency. Her encouragement lead to creation of a performance collaboration between myself and Courtney Scheu in response to the body of work I produced over the 5-week residency. Day-long walks with Yuri were like nothing I have ever experienced. Australian nature is so strong and has left a lasting impression on me. The opportunity of meeting artists from different countries who are practicing different disciplines was amazing. Working together, collaborating and sharing new ideas, techniques and working methods was very important for me and filled up my creative batteries.”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2017
Sachin George
New Delhi-based Sachin George said, “For me, BigCi was a shower of surprise from the very first week. From the clear sky of endless stars (including the core of galaxy if time is right), daily shooting stars, unforgettable nature walks, silence of the woods as well sound of ocean by the winds on those leaves, to the serene diverse spotting of insects and plants, BigCi was a perfect place that the artist in me was craving for but never knew. All the experience was only enhanced with a fun small group of fellow artists and ever supportive Rae and Yuri through their feedback and open mindedness. Highly recommended to any open minded one who is craving for a time away from the rush of a city.
I had a 5 week residency at BigCi. Though at the end of first week, I was like I still have one whole month of residency left, next thing I knew was that the Open Day was next day. A whole 5 weeks went so fast, but time experienced and the memories taken from BigCi was that of a frozen time…”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2017
Elizabeth Rankin
Elizabeth said, “This residency offered me the chance to do work relating to my childhood memories of Bilpin. I made a body of work that related to these ideas in a large collage. What was exciting to me was that I also made a floor work that addressed the threat to the environment that surrounds the residency, the beautiful Wollemi National Park. So next to my drawings strange mutant creatures made of industrial waste crawl amongst the stones. I also expanded the psychological impact of memory into large wall drawings. Drawing like a child on walls invigorates one’s practice with a sense of fun and experimentation.
I think these unpredictable events come from the impact of the landscape and the interaction with the other residents. The residency is an experience that draws upon one’s own practice but also offers unique opportunities to make new work. Best to come here with an open mind and soul. Many thanks Rae and Yuri.”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2017
Angelique Wavés
Sunshine Coast artist Angelique Wavés says, “I arrived in Katoomba first, and the Blue Mountains took my breath away. As a result, during the first two weeks of my residency I was immersed with painting my ‘Echo Point’ series. Rae encouraged me to explore different mediums during my time here, and I pursued the photography side of my art practice as well. An enjoyable portion of my time was spent taking photos of the pond and its different moods over the weeks. I had initially intended to just paint during my residency but have ended up also valuing my photography as an artwork in its own right and was delighted to see these images on display as part of our exhibition. Thank you so much, Rae and Yuri, for inspiring us all with your passion for the arts and Wollemi.”

Residents in Spotlight: August 2017
Lauren Gidwitz
The New York-based artist Lauren Gidwitz says, “The residency at BigCI was a gift. The solitude of the setting and incredible facilities allowed me to have time and space to explore and publicly present an installation that I had not been able to do before. I arrived without any supplies, but was able to take advantage of a recycling facility in Sydney, and the local art stores and home improvement warehouses, utilizing many materials that I had not come across in New York City. The bushwalks, led by Yuri, through the gorgeous natural surroundings, climbing over pagodas and down into caves, provided key inspiration for many of the sculptural forms involved in my final piece. It was also a great opportunity to get to know the art community in Sydney, and create life-long friendships with my fellow residents and the local artists. I feel very grateful to Rae and Yuri for this experience. It was unforgettable.”

Residents in Spotlight: August 2017
Subin Heo

Korean artist Subin Heo wrote this small poem about his experiences in BigCi:
“Cold weather, strong sunshine,
quiet forest, morning jogging, viewing the Milky Way, relaxing barn,
beautiful nature, exciting bushwalking, Jurassic Park,
delicious dinner, good friends, Bilpin Cider,
deep thought, lonely time,
friendly Rae and Yuri, shy Lilly, passion of art.
The BigCi in my memory…”

Residents in Spotlight: August 2017
Greta Schiller and Andrea Weiss
Greta Schiller and Andrea Weiss are award-winning filmmakers, based in New York.
Greta said, “The peacefulness, the natural energy inspired to make this a very special and super productive time. Bravo to Rae for creating a space for art while making art – a difficult balance, done here with much grace.”
Andrea said, “Thank you for this gift of time to work amidst the “peaceful waters of the air under echo’s branches” (Federico Garcia Lorca). It was also wonderful to meet fellow Lorca lovers in this remote and beautiful place.”

Residents in Spotlight: August 2017
Elina Ansary
The New York-based Elina Ansary’s project, Ghost Tour: Bilpin explored the subtle effect of history on the physical reality of the place. The project consisted of five site-specific installations created using natural materials collected in the bush, depicting archival images of the real residents of Bilpin during the last 150 years. An accompanying zine guided viewers on a walk through the bush to discover these installations, to see the ghosts of Bilpin’s past.
Elina said, “I had an absolutely amazing time at the residency and feel really good about what I got done. Rae and Yuri were so hospitable and helpful, and I’m very grateful for their support of my project.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2017
Sun Hai Jin – Andy Sun

Andy spent 2 months in BigCi. A traditional studio painter in China, he made bold experiments with other media here, producing videos, installations, as well as a great number of ‘plein air’ paintings. This has greatly enhanced his practice. Andy says, “I am very happy to have stayed and make friends here. Good experiments, good memories, good Apple for me”.

Residents in Spotlight: July 2017
John Galan
“It was not the 14hr flight to Australia from Los Angeles, or driving on the opposite side of the road that shocked my senses to a “new land” but the graceful angel-like wings of a cockatoo fluttering past me while driving into the mountains from Sydney that awakened artistic gaze, into a world full of wonder. After spending an entire month at BigCi you quickly realize the amount of inspiration one receives while living between two national parks, the feelings cannot be contained, and thus the creative process begins. I got to live with people from all over the world, share meals with them, explore the second most diverse place on earth, and paint everything that lives within me. What makes BigCi different from other residencies? The Art Shed, a massive building designed solely for the purpose and creation of artworks. Nestled on 8 acres of land, the residency sits within the forest, just far enough from civilization to see a river of stars (the Milky Way) on a clear night sky. The air fresh and naturally sweet from the eucalyptus trees, the mountains as vast and blue as the ocean, and the sunsets as sweet as pie in the sky. In my efforts to travel and paint I have learnt one thing stands true; there are many beautiful places all around the world, but what makes a place even more beautiful is its people; from their culture to their way of life. The ability to bring meaning into all they do, simply expresses the essence of humanity. This is what BigCi carries with it, the human spirit. It is a sacred place where artists have the opportunity to find themselves by living with others.”

Residents in Spotlight: July 2017
Duly Priced Drink – Katherine Kennedy, Catherine Thickett and Monique Bedwell
Katherine Kennedy and two assisting facilitators, Catherine Thickett and Monique Bedwell, worked together on a social practice arts project called Duly Priced Drink (DPD). This project involved a program of artist talks, workshops, creation of three artists books, a wall installation made up of prints created by the emerging DPD community, and also staging of a socially engaged performance at the BigCi Open Day event. The summary of project outcomes is at https://bigci.org/workshops/ and on Facebook page Duly Priced Drink

Residents in Spotlight: June 2017
Rebecca Waterstone
Blue Mountains artist Rebecca Waterstone says, “I am so grateful to Rae and Yuri Bolotin for this amazing experience, immersing myself in an artist residency on the edge of the Wollemi National Park. This incredible facility and location has been so inspiring. I deliberately didn’t take any art materials with me, or have any preconceived ideas before I got there, deciding to make work from materials I found on the site. I made interlocking circular pieces on the floor in the huge open space of the Art Shed, using bark, stones, plants, seedpods, berries, charcoal from the burnt out trees, and various ochres from the ground. I collected sparkly, jewel-like red resin from the Bloodwood trees (they actually look like they are bleeding when the red sap drips out), and mixed it with water to create a very effective binder to make paint with (using pigment from the ochres and charcoal). I also made some abstracted films by suspending a big ball of rusty wire fencing from a doorway, recording it slowly spinning around in the sunlight and casting delicate shadows on the floor. I later projected these films large scale on the Art Shed wall. The tangled wire was like a drawing in 3 dimensions, and I am excited to further explore the potential of this kind of expanded drawing. I feel being at BigCi, for even this short period, has enabled me to gain some much-needed respite and quiet time, and sparked many ideas that I will follow up in the coming months. I look forward to returning one day soon. ”

Residents in Spotlight: June 2017
Caitlin Casey
Sydney-based artist Caitlin Casey said,
‘BigCi has been integral to me being able to redevelop and rediscover my practice. The setting of BigCi has given me the space to contemplate and to play with ideas in a supportive environment. Furthermore, sharing this space with other lovely residents and different creatives has been a brilliant experience. Though I was only here for a short time, it has been wonderful. Rae and Yuri are generous and welcoming and have created something truly special with BigCi.’


Residents in Spotlight: June 2017
Danielle Baldock
Writer Danielle Baldock says, “This time at BigCi has been such a special opportunity to be quiet and still and have a space to create. It’s so beautiful here, the land and the trees and the creative atmosphere. I have so enjoyed my days writing in the dam, surrounded by water, and in the trees, and amongst the rocks. Being part of this creative community has given me the chance to really be The Writer. I will take that away with me, and a new sense of what I can achieve with my words. Many thankyous Rae and Yuri, and of course Lilly (the dog)”

Residents in Spotlight: May-June 2017
Ryo Yamauchi
Japanese video artist Ryo Yamauchi says,
“Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to take up this residency – it was just wonderful being able to see and experience nature in Wollemi and Blue Mountains. It was very different from Australian landscape that I had seen before.”



Residents in Spotlight: May-June 2017
Jayne Holsinger
Jayne Holsinger is a visual artist living in New York that paints from photographic references and memory. She says, “At the beginning of my 4-week residency, I embarked on a series of gouache paintings entitled ‘Discovering Oz.’ The idea was simple: respond to the natural environment on a completely different continent. Initially the project entailed collecting and documenting indigenous plants and insect specimens which I rendered through close observation. As the weeks progressed, I moved to larger works, including some of my fellow residents exploring the Wollemi landscape. These are more open and convey a hint of the mystery of this place. I found the entire BigCi environment immersive, stimulating, and supportive of my practice. With the documentation garnered, I continue to work on the series in Manhattan.”

Residents in Spotlight: June 2017
Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna – Hour House
“Hour House came to BigCi to record an album in 2 weeks using the Barn and its surrounds as a recording studio. We found the Barn ideal as living quarters, and it had great versatility as a recording space. At the Open Day, we performed an improvised set based on cassette field recordings we took while at BigCi, mixed with sampled sounds from inside the Barn itself. Enough cannot be said about the inspiration the BigCi grounds and the immediate environment around it provide. And on top of all that, the support and friendly hospitality Rae and Yuri showed us was second to none.”

Residents in Spotlight: May-June 2017
Valerie George
American artist Valerie George explains, “I have been working on a body of work titled “Entropic Force” that examines the intersections of my personal history, cultural history, time, and place at a particular site. While at BigCi, I created site-specific works at the Wollemi National Park (Newnes), Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and Evans Crown Reserve. While being a perfect base camp to explore these areas, BigCi also provided a unique opportunity to work in a “brick and mortar” space, enjoying a serene uninterrupted studio practice. For Open Day, I created objects and drawings inspired by the overwhelming beauty of the shale oil factory ruins in Newnes, as the Wollemi slowly reclaims it. I am forever grateful to Rae and Yuri for this experience. They are inspiring in their passion for Art and the Wollemi. It seeps out into everyone and everything they touch. It was a privilege to share their beautiful space. I plan to know them, always.”

Residents in Spotlight: May 2017
Linda Seiffert
The Blue Mountains based ceramic artist Linda Seiffert says, “The BigCi Residency was a rare opportunity for me to find solitude, slow down, become present, and experience a true sense of space and place in a world of ever increasing noise, haste and overwhelm. Rae and Yuri have created a most nurturing mood with BigCi. They also invite artists to see this residency as a wholistic experience through the underlying values they hold, which focus on connection with and protection of the local natural environment, connections with the local community, and the cultural and ecological importance of the boundless wilderness that includes the land on which BigCi resides.”

Residents in Spotlight: March-April 2017
Karen Miranda Abel
Toronto-based Karen said, “My residency time was dedicated to field research and development of Postglacial {Botanical storytelling in ice}, a site-specific installation of native flora encased in ice on top of the BigCi rainwater tank. The work references the resilient and robust plant species diversity of the UNESCO World Heritage Greater Blue Mountains, which has changed and evolved dramatically since the ice age. During a beautiful sunny day in April, the gleaming ice forms slowly melted away. Upon reflection, in some ways this culminating project is a symbol of my extraordinary time at BigCi; intense and illuminating, and over much too soon.
Being immersed in this unique residency setting was akin to finding a second home for my art practice. Rae’s gentle and inspiring commitment to offering space, support and community as integral tools in deepening one’s artistic process is thoughtfully reflected in every aspect of the residency design. I went on exhilarating off-track bushwalks with Yuri and his group of wilderness explorers, spanning three national parks and numerous unprotected wilderness areas. His passion for the region’s natural heritage and dedication to sharing it with others made it possible for me to visit an impressive array of caves including the majestic Michelangelo Cave in Gardens of Stone where I spent all day as an intimate study of place. Few people have been fortunate enough to visit these enigmatic and commanding places and I’m truly grateful for this gift.
My experience at BigCi enriched and confirmed my practice in such immeasurable ways—surely to be revealed for many years to come and that alone is inspirational. I hope to return for more transformative adventures. All my best to Rae and Yuri with much gratitude, admiration and respect.”

Residents in Spotlight: January-April 2017
Johanne Laache

Norwegian artist Johanne Laache said, “I spent ten whole weeks in Bilpin as a resident, completing a project I don’t believe I could have conceived of in any other place. With invaluable support from Rae, Yuri and the other residents I undertook what felt like a durational performance that culminated in a kinetic installation presented at our Open Day. This residency let me have the time, space and concentration to make this piece, titled No One Should Be Alone in Their Old Age, which feels like a pivotal project for me. Bilpin and BigCi are far from the big city and from noise and distraction, and for me this offered the best possible environment to work in. Moreover, I made lasting friends both at the residency and in the community at large. I never thought I’d go to Australia before I decided to come here, and now I cannot imagine not going back there as soon as I possibly can.”

Residents in Spotlight: January-April 2017
Rachel Chicaguala
New York based Rachel Chicaguala said, “My residency at BigCi has been instrumental to the growth of my practice. The time spent here without distraction allowed for experimentation I would not have considered at home. This in addition to the generosity of Rae and Yuri, as well as the citizens of Bilpin made this one of my best art making experiences to date. I would recommend a residency here to anyone in need of inspiration or rejuvenation in their work. The space is truly special and I know I am not the only artist who hopes to return some day.”

Residents in Spotlight: January-April 2017
Wolfe Girardin

Wolfe Girardin is a multidisciplinary artist from Montreal. During his 10-week residency at BigCi he developed a charcoal drawing series entitled #ubiquity, depicting Snapchat and Instagram story screenshots. The project addressed both the potential and shortcomings of social media in maintaining meaningful relationships in an increasingly mobile world. He says about his residency: “I loved my time at BigCi! I made so many kind, inspiring and funny friends. Rae and Yuri were such great hosts. They welcomed each new resident in their home with a group dinner and show-and-tell – a small gesture that meant a whole lot to me. Rae was always there when I needed some advice or just to have a chat. With Yuri, I got to go bushwalking and see some of the most beautiful canyons and aboriginal sites that I would have otherwise never have had access to. Besides showing us a pretty view, he also dropped a whole lot of knowledge on the rich vegetation, history and geology of the area. Working in the Art Shed was great, it’s spacious and extremely versatile. I made good use of the magnetic walls. With writing workshops, ongoing critiques and our group exhibition, my time at BigCi has greatly benefited my professional development, miss you already!”

Residents in Spotlight: March 2017
Jacqueline Spedding
Blue Mountains artist Jacqueline Spedding said, “I came to BigCi to work on a site-specific installation for Field Trip, an exhibition curated by Sabrina Roesner. As a local artist familiar with the landscape I wasn’t sure what the residency would hold for me. The grounds and brand-new Art Shed rooms were immediately inspiring and restful. I spent my time visiting my site, developing pieces for the exhibition, discussing ideas with the other resident artists and enjoying convivial evenings cooking and talking. The residency allowed me to immerse myself in my practice and take time to reflect, while swimming in the dam or listening out for the arrival of the rare and beautiful black cockatoos that frequently visit. Rae and Yuri have created an extraordinary environment for artists to share – every day I have spent here has been a gift.”

Residents in Spotlight: March 2017
Sylvia Rimat and Cat Jones
London-based German artist Sylvia Rimat and Sydney-based artist and curator Cat Jones said, “We came to BigCi to establish our working collaboration and to embark together on a new work, ‘Tree’, that delves into the depths of our imagination, drawing on Neuroscience, plant signaling, the symbology of forests and on our very personal imagined stories, related to the woods. It will take the form of an audio walk and also lead to a book project published alongside. BigCi was a perfect location to start this project, tucked away in the scenic Blue Mountains, surrounded by bushland. It was great to work in company with other (inter)national artists, and Rae and Yuri were very welcoming and helpful. Yuri took us on an introductory walk, to introduce us to the local landscape and tree species which was really useful for our project.”

Residents in Spotlight: March 2017
Margaret and Jennifer Mills
Margaret Mills has been painting the bushland around Sydney for most of her life. Her daughter, author Jennifer Mills, is a novelist, short story writer and essayist who often writes about climate change and the environment. As Margaret has turned her eyes to the beautiful landscape at BigCi, Jennifer has been writing an essay about landscapes and what it means to make art in the Anthropocene.

Residents in Spotlight: January 2017
Karen Power
karen-power-20170118_143845_001Karen, an electroacoustic composer from Ireland and the co-winner of the 2016 BigCi Environmental Award, created an inside/outside multichannel ‘living’ sound installation that fuses local memory, foreign illusion of memory and place. The ‘living’ element was an improvised performance, in which other real world sonic spaces were introduced to this environment and therefore altered the way we hear everything within the space – both during and long afterwards.

Residents in Spotlight: January 2017
Lisa Hirmer
lisa-presentingLisa, a Canadian artist and the co-winner of the 2016 BigCi Environmental Award, worked with the local community and presented a multi-faceted project that focussed on the idea of biodiversity, both celebrating the notion of non-human multiplicity and probing the limits of it as a bio-political tool. She is particularly interested in the many ways human lives are entangled with those of other species. Like much of her work, the intention was to uncover and make visible the barriers to change within human ecologies.

Residents in Spotlight: November 2016, January 2017
Nathalie Hartog-Gautier
20170108_103918Nathalie said, “The residency at BigCi allowed me to explore new territory physically and mentally. Yuri has a deep knowledge of the environment and a love to share it. We talked about the different environmental issues with the greater Blue Mountains that are under threat from coal mining and not protected.  A walk with Yuri in unprotected area, such as the Garden of Stone, provided me with the base for a body of works. All this work wouldn’t be possible without Rae’s kindness and readiness to help. I would love to come back.”

Residents in Spotlight: November 2016
Renata Buziak
Brisbane based Renata said, “BigCi artist residency and Rae and Yuri’s vision and support allowed me to immerse in natural environment of the beautiful BigCi property and national parks surrounding the area, explore possibilities and ideas. It didn’t take long to pick bush tucker as the focus of my residency. Building on my previous medicinal plants research, I enjoyed creating a new body of work, a series of bush tucker lumen prints, and a series of biochromes, which will continue to develop after the residency is completed. The residency also provided very enjoyable and priceless place for meeting, sharing, working and discussions with other artists.”

Residents in Spotlight: September, November 2016
Jenny Pollak

Jenny says, “I consider the time that I spent at BigCi an invaluable boost and stimulus to my artistic practice. In the first half of my residency, I researched my subject and collected footage and still images of two waterfalls threatened by the ongoing effects of mining. The second half of my residency involved editing and organising my footage into a video installation, as well as creating the physical surfaces onto which my footage would be projected.
During my residency, I also continued my writing practice, using the walls of the kitchen on which to write a daily poem. During the time between the two halves of my residency, and informed by the experience of my walk to the waterfalls, I wrote the poem ‘A preventable death’, and it is this poem that formed the underlying platform for my video installation.
Having the use of the brand new projection room at BigCi was a terrific advantage in creating this work, and I am certain that having space and time dedicated to this purpose has allowed me to accelerate the development of my work as a video artist. The support that I received at BigCi was invaluable in the creation of this work.”

Residents in Spotlight: September, November 2016
Nicole Welch
20161127_125359_002Nicole says, “BigCi was the perfect base from which I could explore and research new locations for a new body of work titled ‘Wildēornes Land’, which will be exhibited at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and CEMENTA in April 2017. In September I went on daily excursions around the wider Blue Mountains Region to see and record significant areas, cataloguing these sites for future installation work. In November I returned for 3 weeks to undertake intensive photoshoots in the bush that responded thematically to the unique history and ecology of the region with an emphasis on the inherent loss and uncertainty we now face for our natural environment.
The experience has enriched my knowledge and understanding of this unique and precious region, and I am full of gratitude for the space and time to develop my work. I also thoroughly enjoyed the fun times spent with the other amazing artists in residence.”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2016
Clancy Warner
20160926_110450_001Clancy said, “After winning my residency as part of the 2016 Palmer Sculpture Biennial award for my sculpture “Whitewashing History”, I arrived at BigCi with no expectations. What a fantastic journey it has been. Bushland walks and day trips to see majestic waterfalls, grand landscapes and rock formations, and a drive to visit the Hawkesbury River where I grew up. Being in this landscape again was so inspirational, bringing back memories of my youth and a freer time in my life. On days when I wasn’t exploring I let the inspiration flow, and by tapping into the energy of the flora and fauna I discovered new ideas and developed concepts that I am excited to turn into a new body of work for my first solo exhibition in 2017. I shared this residency with three other diverse women, women from different disciplines and different places, and honestly this residency wouldn’t have been the same without them! Great inspiration, conversations, camaraderie and laughs! ”

Residents in Spotlight: September-October 2016
Wendy Hack
wendy-1Wendy Hack is a German artist, based in Bonn. She said, “My artist residence was like a big puzzle with the many pieces falling into place. I came to Bilpin to explore my country of birth, to respond to the Australian Bush and rediscover the wide open skies, the dynamic clouds and the unique landscapes. I found a wonderful place to work on my installation „Soul Rest“ and an opportunity to respond and exchange ideas and to share joyful and inspirational conversation around the open fire with other inspiring artists.”

Residents in Spotlight: August – September 2016
Kim Joon
kim-joon-sKorean sound artist Kim Joon says, “At BigCi, I had everything I needed. My project was a soundscape with a site specific art installation. Bilpin, where BigCi is located, is a good quiet place, and being there was an opportunity for me to focus on the sound. Every day was a mystery of diverse natural experiences that gave me inspiration to make new sound installations. I hope I can visit BigCi again. Thank you, Yuri and Rae.”

Residents in Spotlight: August – September 2016
Marylin Schneider
20160903_155051_001Marylin Schneider, a Sydney artist, says, “I came to the BigCi at the end of an Asialink reciprocal residency at MMCA in Seoul. I spent two weeks with Joon Kim, a Korean artist who had just spent ten weeks at Artspace. We were very lucky to have this time to exchange thoughts and information about our residency experiences. This opportunity was unique and very valuable to me. In the two weeks that I was here, I reflected upon the research that I had gathered in Seoul and developed ideas for a future body of work. Having this time away, surrounded by beautiful nature and architecture I was able to focus without the usual everyday distractions. Rae and Yuri were very helpful and generous with their knowledge and their time and provided us with everything we needed.”

Residents in Spotlight: August – September 2016
Han Qing
han-qing-wheeny-gap-dsc06380Beijing based artist Han Qing, represented by Red Gate Gallery, returned to BigCi for another successful residence. During his stay, he created a new body of work – a 5-painting series, ‘Birds on the Tree’. He also took part in several bushwalk adventures in the Wollemi and Gardens of Stone.


Residents in Spotlight: August 2016
Jiang Wentao
Jiang-sShanghai based artist Jiang Wentao says, “Thank you Rae and Yuri for giving me a chance to come to Australia and to spend time in BigCi and the National Park. The time was short but impressive. The rocks were eye-catching, and the flowers and trees gave me many inspirations and made me feel deeply about the influence that nature has on artistic work. So, beyond all questions, this experience was unforgettable. I think these are some of the best memories of my life and my creative work.”

Residents in Spotlight: July-August 2016
Lani Asuncion
Lani-with masks-s3 SISTERS: Dreamtime |Cat’s Cradle and the Lost Bone [Stolen Dreams]
This multimedia work by artist Lani Asuncion, from New Haven, Connecticut (USA) is part of a three-part series 3 SISTERS. The work is referenced from Native American and Australian Aboriginal three sisters stories. It aims to bring focus and respect to oral traditions through a contemporary perspective. In the work done at BigCi, Lani worked with local performers and used elements of the environment to create the costumes, sculptural relics for the videos. You can watch the videos of this series and find out more about Asuncion’s work at http://www.laniasuncion.net/3-sisters-series/

Residents in Spotlight: July 2016
Tania Bowers and Clare Britton
20160721_145256sWe came together last year to collaborate on the music video for the song I See you Tiger from Tania’s album Via Tania and the Tomorrow Music Orchestra. Our experience creating this video and the resonances between our practices led to our residency at BigCi in Bilpin. Over the next couple of years, we are creating a body of work that traverses music, jewellery and installation. We were so happy to have the time and space to create the foundations of our project. The Barn at BigCi and the hospitality of Rae and Yuri provided a beautiful context for our conversations, tests and ideas – thanks!

Resident in Spotlight: June-July 2016
Jody Graham
Jody smallJody Graham, from Sydney, said, “After a few weeks into my 4-week residency, I had an extraordinary day. This day was unplanned and organic, and gave me the space and time to let my mind wander, unravel and create. It was a day of a bit of this and a bit of that, as I moved freely between different creative projects that were already bubbling up around me. I didn’t seem to make any concrete decision about what I was going to do but, rather, just did things as I felt like it. What a treat! There were no other commitments other than to explore my own creativity -Magic!
It was a breakthrough day because it was the day I realised the creative potential of my natural surroundings. I was outside looking for material to make natural brushes and tools when I noticed a pile of rotting hardwood. Without even thinking about it too much, I began arranging the woodpile and was quickly excited by the results. The attraction I had to surface, texture and colour in the hardwood went on to inspire my interest in other natural materials, including working with whiskey grass.
Prior to my time with BigCi I was significantly inspired by the urban environment. Now, I feel a desire to connect and represent the natural environment as well as the urban in my work. My artist residency with BigCi has further developed and enhanced my practice.”

Resident in Spotlight: June-July 2016
Cosima Scales
Cosima smallBrisbane-based artist Cosima Scales says, “I came to BigCi interested in the idea of wilderness and wanting to paint the dense walls of trees surrounding the residency. What ended up happening was a big shift in my painting practice. During my time here I developed a new method in my work using drawing, stencils and building the surface over many different layers. This residency has been the perfect opportunity to spend time with and walk in the landscape, and to let that direct experience guide the work. Big thanks to Rae and Yuri for their hospitality, support and for their help in discovering this beautiful place.”

Resident in Spotlight: May 2016
Eunice Lim
Eunice LimSingapore artist Eunice Lim says, “Being overwhelmed by such organic beauty, the experience in BigCi has propelled me to create a new series of work. Growing up in the city, I was never really exposed to nature at such scale and serenity. I felt inspired from the strong presence which the Blue Mountains emit and was aspired to capture that vast manifestation through an installation of blue eucalyptus tree barks. The trees encountered during bush walks too stimulated me to create sculptures of a fictional species of trees that appear to be communicating messages to mankind. All in all, I believe the time and space at BigCi has allowed me to develop as an artist; the flexibility of space along with its location created a timeless season for me. Heartfelt thanks to Rae and Yuri.”

Resident in Spotlight: May 2016
Natalie Scholtz

WA based  Natalie says, “I applied for the BigCi to observe the effect the Wollemi and broader Blue Mountains would have on my practice. I am a drawer and painter who draws inspiration on my immediate environment, yet previous to the residency I had not attempted landscape. The luxury of having a month where in waking up I saw trees that stand like lords every day, without even leaving the BigCi grounds, allowed the idea of ’landscape’ to become my everyday; in turn I could learn my interpretation of a landscape. I loved observing the effect of colours found in the overall Blue Mountains scape and details of the natural debris on my palette. Thank you, Rae for providing the space and support to create, and Yuri for the wondrous hikes into the unknown.”

Resident in Spotlight: April 2016
Helen Sturgess
Helen SturgessHelen Sturgess, Blue Mountains based artist, says, “I came to BigCi to carry out paper casting of rocks and vegetation for a specific project and I was under time pressure to do so. Waiting for paper to dry is an enforced slow down, which was fortunate as I would have missed so much otherwise. I owe much to Yuri for walking me into the landscape. I felt as if I were in the iconic McCubbin painting of pioneers in the bush. It was the first time I had walked in bushland that wasn’t following a marked trail and it removed much of the sense of danger I had always associated with my homeland’s wilderness. You just have to be prepared and respect the environment you are in. I played with paper in the elements and was inspired to a new body of work based on the walking. Rae provided useful insights, for which I am grateful and, together with my fellow residents, contributed much to the convivial atmosphere. Residency at the BigCi has given me the opportunity to know and understand my own country better. What a amazing gift.”

Resident in Spotlight: March 2016
Magda Wegrzyn
MagdaMagda Wegrzyn, Polish artist and curator, is the winner of the inaugural Blue Mountains World Heritage Award – a collaboration between BigCi and the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. Magda says about her 6 weeks at BigCi, “The residency in BigCi is one of its kind, and to understand it, one cannot do anything else but to experience it. For me the residency was not only a mind opener, but also a time allowing to focus on my artistic research and practice. During six weeks of residency, I was not only more productive, but also more certain about decisions which I made. I allowed myself to re -think, re – work, and re- fresh my everyday practices. I came for the residency to investigate the history of the crossing made by three explorers in 1813 in the Blue Mountains, however what I found and had learned was far more than collecting facts, it was a real experience which wouldn’t be possible in any other place. Yuri’s bushwalks and Rae’s kind help, advice and deep understanding of artistic practice are special and unique. The residency was a time when I met wonderful people, among these artists, passionate about their work with whom I shared my time and thoughts. I wish anyone to have an opportunity to stay in such wonderful place.”

Resident in Spotlight: March 2016
Marie Craig
MarieMarie Craig, from Massachusetts, USA, says, “I came to BigCi in search of an opportunity to look inward and focus my attention on the creation of new work. What I found was a supportive community of creative individuals, surrounded by some of the most incredible wild beauty imaginable. I have long been fascinated by the flora of Australia, particularly the leaves, blossoms and seed-pods of native species. I used cyanotype, an alternative photography process, to combine botanical elements with digital negatives, with an eye to creating blended panoramas that explore the juncture of civilization and wild places. BigCi gave me the much-needed time and space to immerse myself in my work, and the freedom to take risks and explore new ways of working. I am especially grateful to Rae and Yuri, and my fellow artists, for their generous spirit, good conversations, and great company.”

Resident in Spotlight: March 2016
Sunim Koh
Seoul-based artist Sunim Koh spent 6 weeks at BigCi. Sunim says, “I didn’t know what to do before I came here. But on the second day Yuri took me bush walking, and I was amazed by everything that I saw, especially the blood woods, bark of trees and untouched nature.
I had never seen such things in my life. I was impressed by the colour of the sap from blood woods, trees and rocks. It changed my mind completely. Every day I had new experiences of seeing. It was a wonderful experience. I will never forget the time that I have spent here.”

Resident in Spotlight: March 2016
Charwei Tsai
20160229_161435Sydney Biennale 2016 artist Charwei Tsai, from Taiwan, spent time at BigCi preparing her exhibit. She collected fallen bark from the beautiful Angophora trees and inscripted it with Tibetian mantras. She also did several bushwalks, including the spectacular Birrabang Canyon. Her works can be viewed during the Sydney Biennale, at the Embassy of Transition, Regent Street, Chippendale.

Resident in Spotlight: January – February 2016
Gauri Torgalkar
Gauri_atwork_1-WebsiteAfter working on landscape drawings and paintings depicting the urban open space in and around Sydney, I was looking for an opportunity to work in the Australian bush in an immersive environment. BigCi offered me just that! During my residency Yuri introduced me to the pagoda rock formations in the Gardens of Stone National Park & Wollemi National Park, which were fascinating and greatly inspiring. Although imposing and majestic, these unique rock forms are fragile and in dire need of conservation as they can be easily damaged by illegal trail biking and mining activities. Almost all of the work during my residency focused on the form, character and the meditative quality of pagoda country. I am planning to continue this work for my upcoming exhibition later this year at Art Est Gallery in Leichhardt. I am very thankful to Rae and Yuri for being generous with their time and assistance throughout my stay at the BigCi and for introducing me to the pagodas!”

Resident in Spotlight: January 2016
Daniela Diaz
Daniela DiazSydney artist Daniela Diaz says, “My time at BigCi was an enlightening experience, having time to reflect I learnt a lot about myself and my art practice, mainly in regards to pushing my boundaries with new materials and subjects and having faith in my creative expression. My work is inspired by the natural environment and its human connection, being at BigCi surrounded by nature made it easy to immerse myself in my work. I was intuitively drawn in by the beautiful angophora tree and its peeling bark and begun a large scale mixed media drawing installation. I spent time walking everyday collecting bark and taking many photographs. Rae and Yuri have been wonderful encouraging hosts and this residency will be a time I will never forget.”

Residents in Spotlight: January 2016
Erica Aronsten and Zana Dare
20160109_174943_smallFor Sydney writers and artists, Erica Aronsten and Zana Dare, a residency at BigCi was an opportunity to devote time to current projects, and indulge in some ‘creative play’ – free from the distractions of city life. The magnetic boards in the kitchen of the Art Shed proved to be a real attraction for the two writers as they ‘mapped out’ a final draft of their publication ‘The Creative Pulse’ – a guide for writers and artists, highlighting the links between art and health. Time was also devoted to preparing for an exhibition and teaching assignment as ‘Artists in Residence’ for Oceania Cruises, sailing from Sydney to Los Angeles in May, 2016. In this regard, BigCi was the perfect setting, providing the inspiration for a new series of collage works ‘Between the Lines’, based on the calligraphy of the Australian bush. Many thanks for Rae and Yuri for their hospitality and the opportunities they offer to artists both here and overseas.

Resident in Spotlight: December 2015
Jess Rotherham
Jess-Website-20151213_113243_001_resizedUK artist Jess Rotherham says, “My practice is comprised of different projects, most of which will last my lifetime. What The Most People Saw is a depiction of the most popular online news from one day, taken from all 193 countries of the world, repeated on the same day annually. This project began in 2012, and will continue annually til my death. The news images are always depicted onto clear glass panes, so that the years can become layered on top of one another and one can notice potential differences as time moves on, intending to probe the relevance or irrelevance of important information in the face of one’s mortality.
I have made my 2015 painting whilst on residency. I was struck by the beauty and resilience of the surrounding area, and the slowness of life here. It has allowed me much needed time to asses my practice and to explore future plans. Thank you Rae and Yuri.”

Resident in Spotlight: December 2015
Meaghan Potter
Meaghan-Website-20151213_112749_resizedBlue Mountains-based artist Meaghan Potter says, “I came to the BigCi ready to be inspired and given direction by the natural environment of Bilpin. After just a few hours of exploration on the first day of arrival I was inspired; everywhere I looked I could see an interesting composition, texture, colour or feature in the wilderness. This feeling of constant intrigue into the surroundings of the BigCi endured throughout my time in the residency and was the fuel behind the bunch of big drawings I ended up making. My large acacia drawing, the largest artwork I have created to this date, resulted from a combination of my own curiosity into larger work as well as Rae’s wise advice to ‘rebel against your own artwork’. By the end of my residency at the BigCi I had created a body of artworks that reflected not only the flora and fauna in Bilpin but also the meditative and explorative side of my artists practice that I found at the BigCi.”

Resident in Spotlight: November – December 2015
Vanessa Macedo
Vanessa-1Vanessa Macedo, a filmmaker from New Jersey, says, “I was very fortunate to be granted the BigCi Directors Choice Environmental Award and decided to create a short advocacy video. This was an incredible opportunity to highlight an important local issue and to be given the support to raise environmental awareness about this issue to achieve social change through the medium of video advocacy. I am very thankful to Rae and Yuri for their mentorship and BIG heart throughout my time. It is a friendship and place that I’ll embrace forever. ”

Resident in Spotlight: November 2015
Ro Murray
DSC02813-RoSydney artist Ro Murray says, “My residency at BigCi gave me the opportunity to commence work on two major new installation works. BLACK a series of large drawings in powdered charcoal which explores the walks mapping The Gardens of Stone, to help conserve this Wilderness area against the destruction and the pollution caused by coal mining. The other installation “homesweethome” was to identify our cultural backgrounds and celebrate our differences in the light of the refuge crisis in Europe and our offshore detention centres for asylum seekers.”

Resident in Spotlight: November 2015
Mairead O’hEocha
DSC02798-MaireadDublin-based Mairead O’hEocha says, “At BigCi I found extraordinary sounds and smells, birds, frogs, trees, flowers, rocks, trees, canyons, fierce sun and fantastic thunderstorms. Rae is a generous and natural host who creates a relaxed and supportive artist residency. Yuri brought us on inspiring bush walks, providing magical and memorable encounters with remote and inaccessible areas of the National Park. BigCi was perfect for allowing space and time for making work.”

Resident in Spotlight: August-September 2015
Hae-Young, SEO
Hae-YoungKorean artist Hae-Young says, “It was a very important and meaningful experience for me to make art in a different environment. I’ve never left my motherland for art, so being in the different cultural, historical and social context of Australia allowed me to understand more about myself and my art. I could focus on what I like, what I pursue and what I want, in my art and my life. I have met diverse people who are artists and have interests in art. Though I figured out artists’ lives are difficult and unstable everywhere, I thought that the Australian residencies, BigCi and Artspace, are very systematic and helpful to artists. In the City, I experienced different cultures, people and the contemporary Australian art. In Bilpin, I could meet local artisans and Australia’s beautiful nature. Artistic Director Rae Bolotin’s support in particular made me more creative and open-minded. The open studio (Lunch with the Artists) in BigCi was a great memory. Showing my results from this residency and having a discussion with the audience was very useful and productive, as I have not done it before. I feel that invisible changes came to my mind, and I believe that these changes will positively influence my art and my life.”

Resident in Spotlight: August-September 2015
Kevin Platt
KevinKevin says, “I was lucky enough to participate in a BigCi residency at the tail end of an Asialink residency to Korea.  The opportunity to meet with my Korean counterpart and to share accounts of our experiences abroad (in a beautiful setting nonetheless) helped us to reflect upon the work we had produced and encountered on our respective residencies.  The BigCi residency also made it possible to showcase the work that I made in Korea, through a hosted forum-like event.  Showing and discussing my work helped me to gain valuable insight into the how my new work was perceived, and into how my practice has shifted through my Asialink and BigCi residency.  The ultimate benefit of my BigCi residency is that is has helped me develop, and understand, the future direction of my practice in the wake of my residency in Korea.”

Residents in Spotlight: July 2015
Karl and Christine Chilcott

Swedish sculptor Karl Chilcott says, “The main aim of our project was to come closer to this beautiful landscape that we never had seen before. We have mainly worked around the North Atlantic so far, but this time we wanted the sun to come from the North. To make Art in Nature, become a part of the place and find a language to express my feelings – that is what I get from the place. Sometimes the language of a place is hidden. But here I felt a resonance in my soul to translate some words. This was great. There were some aspects of our approach that differed from our previous projects. First and foremost that this landscape in a very certain and sublime way is connected to humans and culture. We became deeply touched by seeing Aboriginal Art and feeling the balance in their way to live with the land. They came to a place with open mind and empty hands and created art, which was in size, expression, colour and language a natural part of the whole. This feels for me close to the concept of art in nature in a significant way.”

Resident in Spotlight: July 2015
Sophia Kaschowitz

The German artist Sophia Kaschowitz says, “Exploring the surrounding landscapes was very inspiring! I have seen wide opened eyes and windows in the immense rock formations; I have seen long, jagged tree branches trying to touch each other, but never reaching; I have seen leaves and flowers in rows and circles showing me small hidden tracks. I have seen seeds of fragile plants flying lightly through the landscape like my thoughts and day- dreams. I have seen panoramic landscapes so stunning that I was completely taken by them; I have seen trees and leaves dancing to the sound of the fresh air. I have seen mosses creating paintings on tree trunks. I have seen the rebirth of black burned trees. What I have seen here, I want to make it visible through my artworks and I want to remain awake for these natural miracles that are everywhere.”

Resident in Spotlight: July 2015
Anna Jaaniste
Anna JaanisteAnna says, “I arrived at BigCi with no intentions except to respond with honesty and curiosity to the place. My work was a dialogue with the land in the present – everything that encompasses. I listened and conversed with the place – it exposed things to me through my work processes. I stayed in the moment and with the material encounters I had – all my senses open and awake. Sound in particular became a new material for me – I noticed sound in new ways. My encounters were buzzing and prolific. The horizon was an ever present wonder – the daily meeting point that melts lightness and darkness into one.”

Resident in Spotlight: June 2015
Rhona Eve Clews
Rhona Eve ClewsUK artist Rhona Eve Clews’ daily walks in the area around BigCi provided rich material for her experiments with cameraless photography and light sensitive papers. During her residency, Rhona made use of a photography lab created for her at BigCi. Rhona’s experimental processes echo early nineteenth century photographic practices and are driven by a desire to interrogate and penetrate the essential alchemical potential of the photograph. Often using nature as her darkroom, she propels herself into experiential performances which place her in direct physical relationship with the elements so that sunlight, moonlight, fire, and ocean interact with the work. She attempts to challenge notions of photographic stability, reproduction and representation, knowingly referencing painting, drawing and performance art histories.

Resident in Spotlight: June 2015
Sarah Fuller
Sarah Fuller at Art shedCanadian artist Sarah Fuller says, “While at BigCi, I explored new methods for creating video installation by stitching together multiple videos to create video panoramas. The aim of these video works was to make an immersive environment that mimics nature, while also creating a meditative experience. I was also very influenced by the birds’ sounds and the idea of the “dawn chorus” – the 20 minute period in the morning when all the birds call to each other. I recorded sound early in the morning that was later paired with the panoramic videos. My time at BigCi was immensely productive and I feel I will be processing and thinking about the experience for some time. Thank you Rae and Yuri!”

Resident in Spotlight: May 2015
Kath Fries
Kath FriesKath says, “My art practice involves working with tactile materials to engage our senses with our surroundings, which in turn reflects on the passage of time and fragility of life. At BigCi I’ve been exploring in the landscape and water catchments, and have been particularly intrigued by the hanging swamps in the rocky escarpments. I’ve collected sandstone shards and branches from the area, and dripped them with beeswax to echo the layered interconnections of the Blue Mountains ecosystems.”

Resident in Spotlight: March 2015
Leo Bersamina

Leo Bersamina, a US-based artist and lecturer, says, “In my work I look for patterns we create through our living: relationships with forces (and elements) of nature, models created through encounters with other people, travel, shelter, struggle, and habit.
While at BigCi, I tried to touch upon each of these elements and work them into my studio practice: encounters with the landscape, focused state of making things, and a deepened investigation of place. As a result, I feel that I had a densely productive and inspiring time while working at the BigCi art residency.”

Resident in Spotlight: March 2015
Marie van Elder

Belgian-born, US-based artist Marie van Elder says, “Part of my art practice is translating nature-based observation into a personal painted experience and inner contemplation of life, its cycles, fragility, resilience and beauty.
BigCi ‘s surrounding wilderness  (including wonderful hikes with Yuri) provided endless visual stimulation, with fascinating new shapes, changing light and rainy skies, exotic colors, bizarre rock formations, post fire charred pods and ancient spirit traces.
The renewed exuberance of this very productive residency as well as the responsibility for our environment will be carried on into my home studio practice and new work for sure! Thank you Rae and Yuri!”

Resident in Spotlight: March 2015
Denise Reichenbach

Brisbane artist Denise Reichenbach says, “My time at BigCi was filled with many positive shifts, regarding my art practice. I did many drawings, small studies and sketches in the bush to get to know the flora and fauna. This then informed my main work, created during the residency both in the art shed and in the barn. The residency was completed with an End of Residency Exhibition in the Art Shed. I loved the interaction with other artists from Australia and overseas, it is so enriching to see other people’s work.
I was very influenced by the ancient landscape of the Blue Mountains, it is such a special place and I loved going on exploratory walks with Yuri. There is so much which has inspired and changed me during my time at BigCi, it is hard to put it all into words. I feel that being at BigCi has helped to consolidate my art practice and venture into a new direction with my work.”

Resident in Spotlight: March 2015
Jeff McCann
DSC06927sSydney-based designer, illustrator and maker Jeff McCann explored ideas of miniature worlds and the connections that exist within them during his stay. He says, “I became fascinated with the idea of a large rock or moss covered logs being seen as small scale worlds or landscapes. I was also influenced by trees and how they are continually adapting to their surroundings to survive in the bush.”

Residents in Spotlight: February-March 2015
Cath Barcan, Anne Graham, Astra Howard, Daniel Kojta and Honi Ryan
GroupThese five artists had their residency at BigCi as part of the preparation for the “Strange Embrace” exhibition at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre later this year. Here they are photographed together with Nicholas Tsoutas of Sydney College of the Arts, the Exhibition Curator Rilka Oakley and Rae Bolotin of BigCi, discussing their proposals for the exhibition.

Residents in Spotlight: February 2015
The Sticks
SticksThe Sticks is a Sydney-based live electronic act revolving around a new gestural electronic drum kit invented by Alon Ilsar. The other band members are Daniel Pliner on synths and Josh Ahearn on electric bass.

Alon says, “We wanted a place to set up our equipment and record improvisations in an open space. A space where we could improvise to films and be inspired by our surroundings. A space where we could also listen over our improvisations and rearrange more composed pieces. As a result of staying at BigCi, we have now enough material for an entire album; a marriage of instrumental skill and technological innovation drawn from a wide range of influences, from complex IDM to 8-bit video game soundtracks.”

Resident in the Spotlight: January-February 2015
Claudia Lueke
DSC06628-WebsiteGerman artist Claudia Lueke was our artist-in-residence last year, when she first started to explore the Australian bush. She has returned to BigCi this year to enrich her vocabulary of lines, forms and colour. Claudia says, “For me, it is an encounter between the structures of the industrial area I am familiar with (my “natural habitat”) and a fascinating new world full of a new organic language”.

Resident in the Spotlight: January-February 2015
Dust Lancaster
DSC06612-WebsiteThe paintings that a Sydney-based artist Dust Lancaster has created at BigCi are about systems and elements working together to give an overall impression of the environment around her. Dust has been experimenting with different materials, techniques and scale, with the view of incorporating a keen interest she has for conservation into the works.

Resident in the Spotlight: January-February 2015
Jackie Terrett
DSC06629-WebsiteWhilst at BigCi, Sydney-based artist Jackie Terrett has been investigating readily available natural materials combined with recycled materials to examine themes of the environment and the body, and the idea of respect and social responsibility. During her residency, she was introduced to local craftsmen, enabling her to incorporate traditional weaving and eco – dying techniques into her new body of work.

Resident in the Spotlight: November 2014
Nandita Mukand
DSC06264Artist Nandita Mukand from Singapore said, “The abundance of plant life was what captivated me from the beginning. I was out everyday sketching amongst the trees and rocks, collecting dead plants and leaves and of course clicking photographs. All this fed into the creation of 2 large scale installations at BigCi. Beyond this, I intend to use the material collected to develop an entire body of work when I return home. Working in these surroundings benefited my practice immensely. Being in such close contact with nature was truly rejuvenating and provided ample opportunity for reflection and contemplation. Rae and Yuri’s warmth and enthusiasm and the wonderful interactions with other residents made this an extremely fulfilling experience.”

Resident in the Spotlight: November 2014
Aime Lou
DSC06294Sydney based Aime Lou says, “It is hard to put such a profoundly beautiful experience into a small paragraph. After one month living and working in Art Shed, I leave feeling so full. I have accessed new ways of working, and this space, BigCi, has provided the environment for this to happen. I have made beautiful drawings that are an extension of the landscape. I seek to create a raw harmony and balance through my drawings. I do not know what that looks like until I can see them and this is the most natural, intense, sublime and often confronting process. Like the way the light reveals the colours of the rocks throughout the day, or the way the night can play tricks on you or the way the trees return after a fire. I do not think that art and nature are separate.”

Resident in the Spotlight: November 2014
Nicola Kinloch
DSC06353Melbourne photographic artist Nicola Kinloch said, “My time at the BigCi was used to capture animals and the natural environment with the use of scouting (surveillance) cameras. The results were surprising, and it pushed my practice in new directions. The experience was much more immersive and inclusive in comparison to capturing using a digital SLR camera, where I tend to stand back much more as an observer. In contrast, the Scouting cameras forced me to get much more involved directly with the surrounding environment. The incredible space created by the grounds of the BigCi and the inviting warmth of Rae and Yuri makes time spent here invaluable.”

Resident in the Spotlight: November 2014
Ann-Marie Bäckström
IMG_3372Ann-Marie Bäckström from Sweden said:  “My stay at the BigCi art residency was a truly special experience. I met incredibly amazing people in a most tranquil and inspiring environment. To me the place is very spiritual and therefore it also gave me inspiration and an urge to not only paint but also to write which I haven’t felt for quite some time. The environment really caught me in its beauty and it will for sure inspire my upcoming work to something I didn’t have in mind before I left my home country.”

Resident in the Spotlight: September 2014
Han Qing

Beijing based Han Qing is the recipient of BigCi 2014 Environmental Award. During his residency at BigCi, he created a new body of work about environmental issues in this part of Australia from a Chinese artist’s point of view. His artworks and the artist talk were a special feature of the BigCi Environmental Day. Whilst at BigCi, Han Qing also enjoyed several bushwalks in the areas around us.

Resident in the Spotlight: August 2014
Anna Tregloan
DSC05068aSydney-based installation artist Anna Tregloan is the recipient of a reciprocal residency program facilitated by Asialink; it is a collaboration between the Goyang Art Studio, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; Artspace Sydney; and BigCi.
Anna said, “My time at BigCi followed two months of intensive work and research in South Korea and was an opportunity to decompress all of that information and reimagine it in an entirely new setting. By improvising space and reframing both the previously produced works and the detailed research process, I was able to evolve, expand and clarify the project and am now looking forward to seeing it progress to the next level”

Resident in the Spotlight: August 2014
Mijin Kim
DSC05070Korean artist Mijin Kim  is the recipient of a reciprocal residency program facilitated by Asialink; it is a collaboration between the Goyang Art Studio, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; Artspace Sydney; and BigCi. Mijin said, “Great moments often happen here. The Art Shed offers a handsome studio to live and to work in. I had a lot of great inspiration there. Bushwalks, the Aboriginal caves around BigCi – these experiences and adventures also fed my imagination. Amazing mountains and beautiful people.”

Resident in the Spotlight: August 2014
Lisa McDonell

Lisa is a Sydney based choreographer and dancer. She said, “Part of what I’m really interested in exploring is the effect that the place in which I make work has on the actual outcome. So with this in mind, I began my time at BigCi without a theme or driving idea, apart from that of responding intuitively to this place. For the first time, I created the sound and movement for this work simultaneously. One feeding off the other and both feeding off what I initially thought was the physical landscape of BigCi and the surrounding area, but what I later recognised to be the change in my inner landscape as a result of being in the quietness and solitude of the residency.”

Resident in the Spotlight: July 2014
Alex Bishop-Thorpe 

Alex Bishop-Thorpe is an emerging South Australian Photographic Artist working with a range of experimental and antiquarian techniques and materials. Using the road trip as a research method to explore the utility of the photographic artefact as a prop in the performance of possession and belonging, Alex investigated a number of local scenic lookouts and made collodion glass plate negatives with an improvised darkroom in the boot of his car. Alex is one of the co-founders of The Analogue Laboratory, a photographic facility and darkroom in Adelaide. Here is an article he wrote about his work at BigCi http://www.analoguelab.com.au/2014/08/03/taking-the-show-on-the-road-wet-plate-in-the-field/

Residents in the Spotlight: July 2014
Chris Dolman and Paul Williams

Paul and Chris returned to BigCi to collaborate, experiment, bush walk, and prepare for their upcoming ceramic works exhibition in Adelaide.

Residents in the Spotlight: June 2014
Crisia Miroiu and Andrei Miroiu

Website-andre and crisiaFor their artistic residency, Crisia Miroiu, an international visual artist, teamed with Andrei Miroiu, historian and international relations scholar with a strong academic background and passion for cartography, and undertook a collaborative photographic and counter-mapping project with writing elements –
The Emotional Map of BigCi.
They wrote, “Focusing less on the traditional politics of cartography, but on the politics of emotions, our project redefines and reinforces both natural and manufactured characteristics of the space (such as the bush land, but also the Art Shed, the Studio, or the House) as emotional and creative (in)visible territories, inspiring and influencing the artists living and working at BigCi…”

Resident in the Spotlight: May – June 2014
Hye Weon Shim

Hye Weon Shim, a Korean artist, said, “I use my work to find another space in the world via installations with the empty vessel form through incongruous placement, and I see serene motions growing in harmony with environment.” She exhibited her installation “Between Two Breaths” at BigCi Open Day, June 2014.

Resident in the Spotlight: May – June 2014
Monica Eckert

Monica Eckert is an emerging minimalist Canadian artist who experimented with encaustic technique, exploring composition and colour harmony. She created a series of abstract and semi abstract paintings during her residency at BigCi. She has also enjoyed several walks to the Gardens of Stone guided by Yuri.

Resident in the Spotlight: May – June 2014
Clare Jackson

Clare Jackson, a Canberra based artist, worked on a series of drawings and ceramic objects mapping the connections between natural life forms, both corporeal and organic. She created her installation “to touch, to hold” based on her ideas concerning place and it’s impact on our perception of time and memory, using mark making/drawing as a way of exploring these concepts.

Resident in the Spotlight: February – March 2014
Keith Chidzey

Sydney artist Keith Chidzey says, “The opportunity to remove oneself from the day-to-day responsibilities, to immerse yourself and concentrate fully on one’s creative work should never be underestimated. BigCi not only provides that function with wonderful secluded bush facilities, but the hosts, Rae & Yuri, are generous to a fault. Knowing when to assist and when to leave me create made this 2 weeks not only productive, but reinvigorated my enthusiasm to create. Simply brilliant.”

Residents in the Spotlight: February 2014
Catherine O’Donnell, Locust Jones, Kellie O’Dempsey and Talitha Kennedy
This group of artists came to BigCi to draw, film, perform, think, walk, explore and be inspired in preparation for their ‘A general map of caves’ exhibition at the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery later this year.



Resident in the Spotlight: January – February 2014
Lorraine Burke

Lorraine in Romeo Grotto-070214Lorraine Burke came to BigCi from the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Lorraine reflects, ” I choose this residency to start a new body of work that I will develop over the course of 2014. I was drawn to the light and renewal of the bush, of epicormic shoots emerging from charcoal. Using old photographic slides, the light leaked through the edges, the light here is important and I have a large selection of negatives to work with on my return home to North Uist.”



Resident in the Spotlight: January – February 2014
Claudia Lueke

DSC00177German artist Claudia Lueke says, “My previous artwork was created in an industrial area and was concerned with structures and influenced by straight lines, cool colours, metal. All this now contrasted with organic lines, the warm and sunny ochre and blood red from “bleeding” trees in Bilpin bush. So the residence and the artworks it inspired reflected the encounter between my personal experience of a constructed and also the organic world.”

Resident in the Spotlight: November – December 2013
Anna Borrie

New Zealand artist Anna Borrie is one of the two recipients of the Very Terry Reid Award. Anna says, “I had the fantastic opportunity of being an artist in residence at BigCi thanks to the Very Terry Reid Award. A combination of the recent bushfires, local Bilpin post office and a local building site led to the creation of work with a political postal twist.”

Resident in the Spotlight: October 2013
Tracey Sarsfield
IMG_2337Tracey says, “While at BigCi, I worked towards an exhibition called “Something familiar” held in Canberra.  BigCi provided time to really engage with the work and develop new aesthetics of line which responded to strata within the environment, these lines encapsulated the figures I sculpted earlier.  The lines suggest movement of weaving, strata, sound waves and hints at a macro and micro matrix which we exist within.”

Resident in the Spotlight: October 2013
Genevieve Swifte
IMG_2387Genevieve writes, “During my residency at BigCi I was mesmerised by the sound of cicadas and the shimmering light that dances on the floor of the Wollemi National Park. I incorporated this experience of the place into my drawing and photography, creating imagery that reflects on the behaviour of light and the excessive qualities of the Australian wilderness.”

Resident in the Spotlight: August 2013
AñA Wojak
IMG_2016AñA Wojak is one of the two recipients of our Very Terry Reid Mail Art Award. She came to stay in BigCi for two weeks and to create her performance, sincerely yours, based on hundreds of handwritten love letters that were posted to her, c/o Bilpin Post Office. AñA performed sincerely yours, in our new (still under construction) Art Shed, for a large audience. She has just come back to Australia after touring this performance to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Resident in the Spotlight: July 2013
Claire Nakazawa
Claire completed a degree in painting at the College of Fine Arts in 2007 and has since been exhibiting and performing nationally at galleries and festivals and painting murals around Sydney. She is a member of  ‘Sketch the Rhyme’, a multimedia performance group, established in 2008. Recently, performing ‘Speak of the Devil’ with Hermitude has encouraged her to develop her writing. She spent her time at BigCi working on demos, painting, reading and clearing her mind to make space for new ideas, energy and inspiration.

Resident in the Spotlight: July 2013
René Norwie
IMG_1911-websiteRené Norwie is a Sydney based visual artist working with photography. Her artistic explorations are driven by an insatiable curiosity in social ideologies. During her BigCi residency she worked with various photographic forms, including the use of digital, pinhole and medium-format twin-lens cameras. Approaching the residency without any preconceived outcomes and working intuitively with the different photographic forms created opportunities for unexpected perspectives and encounters. BigCi and the surrounding Blue Mountains region provided a unique setting and landscape for collecting material and creating images that further explore René’s ongoing interest in the tension between the allure and fear of the unknown.

Resident in the Spotlight: July 2013
Katrina Stamatopoulos
Katrina Stamatopoulos is a Sydney based artist working predominantly with photomedia, film and video. At Big Ci, Katrina worked with Rene Norwie on ideas for a collaborative project involving pinhole photography and sound. Katrina also spent time editing 16mm found footage, walking and picking up rocks and making sound recordings collected in different areas of Bilpin.

Resident in the Spotlight: June – July 2013
Bonnie Mitchell
Bonnie M
Bonnie Mitchell in an artist based in Maine and Ohio, United States.  Her research and creative interests include interactive immersive installation art, experimental animation, 3D particle and dynamics systems and special effects, artistic mobile web app development (network art), photography, and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Bonnie’s artworks explore spatial and experiential relationships to our physical, social, cultural and psychological environment through interaction and immersion.  Bonnie Mitchell often collaborates with Elainie Lillios, an internationally renowned electro-acoustic composer to create sensory experiences that psychologically alter the viewer.
While at BigCi, Bonnie Mitchell begun a new experimental animation using the local natural environment as inspiration.  She also took over a thousand photos, exploring the textures, colours and patterns of the Wollemi National Park flora and stone formations.

Residents in the Spotlight: April 2013
Paul Williams and Chris Dolman
During their residency period, Chris and Paul developed key concepts and commenced work for a proposed exhibition ‘Pipe Down’, which will be an exhibition consisting of a painting, a print work, ready-made and sculpted objects, artist made tea towels and a two-channel video, which reinvent studio by-products and aesthetic preoccupations through the collaborative process.

This collaborative effort will see Dolman and Williams utilise high and lowbrow materials and ad-hoc methods to examine studio practices and celebrate everyday failure.

By probing the history of non-traditional self-portraiture and blending intimacy with the absurd, this show pokes fun at the artists as the ‘ever emerging’ embracing their own devolution.

Resident in the Spotlight: January – February 2013
Samantha Heydt
SamSam Heydt is a New York-based fine art photographer, writer, graphic designer and documentary filmmaker with strong academic background – the result of study at universities abroad, such as La Sorbonne, La Universidad de Buenos Aires and Universiteit van Amsterdam.

As a fine art photographer, she has been exhibited twice in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia, as well as in a constellation of galleries and museums throughout New York, LA and Europe. In the Autumn of 2012, she was inducted into MoMa’s elite foundation of artists: “The Contemporaries”, exhibiting shortly after at Miami Art Basel as one of the youngest female photographers.

During Sam’s time at BigCi, her work continued to explore the phenomenology of the present and mythology of the past.

Residents in the Spotlight: November 2012 – January 2013
Yessen Group (Aerin Kim, Min Young Woo, Seyoon Choi)
yessen and pavilionYessen is a group of talented Korean musicians selected by the Korean Traditional Performance Arts Foundation to do a 10 week residency in BigCi. During that time they were able to perform for a wide range of audiences (about 13 performances in total) and to introduce Korean traditional music to the Australian public. Their performances, many of which BigCi assisted in organising, ranged from a concert for Bilpin school children to playing to the audience of over 400 at a Red Cross function.

They also collaborated with contemporary Australian musicians and demonstrated a fine ability to improvise and create new contemporary music that was a strong part of their professional development and an important aspect of their BigCi residency program. The location of BigCi on the edge of Wollemi National Park in Blue Mountains had influenced Yessen so much that they even composed new music based on their experience of the unique nature around BigCi.

Resident in the Spotlight: November – December 2012
Celina Jeffery
CelinaCelina Jeffery is Associate Professor of Art History and Theory at the University of Ottawa and an independent curator.
During her BigCi residency, she had been working on a text and exhibition proposal relating to the following: ‘What are the artistic practices interfacing questions about contemporary ecology as local and global communities grapple with the challenges of sustaining an unsustainable culture of perpetual consumption and energy crises; and what possible practices, processes and methodologies are there within the visual arts to address this?’
It’s been a really useful context for Celina to experience this region, with its staggering vistas, unique, striking geology and dense untouched forests, while she was developing this research.

Residents in the Spotlight: October 2012
Monique Tippett and Rae Clarkson
Monique Tippett and Rae Clarkson are Western Australian artists whose predominant media is wood. After the completion of a number of large public commissions, Monique was keen to experience the process of working ephemeraly in nature. She and Rae specially flew from Dwellingup, WA to participate in the land art workshop in BigCi and to put in practice their skills, newly acquired during the BigCi artist residency.

Resident in the Spotlight: September – October 2012
Nicola Moss
Nicola MossNicola Moss is a visual artist from Queensland. Her art practice observes and interprets the ecology of Australian landscapes. In BigCi she continued this research with a focus on issues of biodiversity, connectivity, conservation, sustainability and responding to community values. As she was keen to experience and gain some understanding of environments and regions recognised as biodiversity ‘hot spots’ within Australia, BigCi introduced Nicola to local enviromentalists. During her residency she was able to work on her artworks and to take part in specially organised for her by BigCi bushwalks in Wollemi and Gardens of Stone National Parks.

Resident in the Spotlight: August – September 2012

Matt Tierney
Melbourne based multimedia artist Matt is a recipient of numerous grants and rewards including 2012 Jump Mentoring Program that helped him, between other things, to do residency at BigCi. Fresh from life performances in NYC, USA, Matt was enjoying the contrast of being in BigCi with its natural sounds of the bush as well as collecting images for his future work.

Resident in the Spotlight: April 2012
Jessica Birk
Aboriginal artist Jessica Birk (pictured with her mum Lois) came to BigCi in preparation for her solo show “Resilience” that was staged at the Incenerator Art Space 22nd of August till 16th  September 2012. Jessica’s three week artist residency program was supported by the Incinerator Art Space and Willoughby Council.


Resident in the Spotlight: April 2012
Ochre Lawson

At the end of her residency Ochre wrote:

“At the BigCi I realised again how finishing a painting within the environment is a direct process that is integral to a fulfilling practice. The process of recurring light at a certain time of day, trying to attain the shimmering of the forest, finding textures, the form of trees and plants and the rhythm of angles and curves and the personal emotion I feel when creating within the landscape, is a process I find exhilirating.”                       .


Resident in the Spotlight: March – April 2012
Wally McGregor

Wally McGregor (pictured during an historic moment of installing our first street sign) was the recipient of the BigCi Scholarship for the National Art School BFA (honours) graduate. At the Open Day Wally talked about his residency experience.                          .


Resident in the Spotlight: March – April 2012
Carlotta Brunetti

Internationally renowned Italian born German land artist Carlotta Brunetti created a site specific installation for BigCi. Carlotta also delivered a fascinating lecture about colour and light in landscape at the first BigCi open day. To see Carlotta’s work and other images from the Open Day go to News.             .


Residents in the Spotlight: November – December 2011
Alistair Watts, Marian Tubbs and Amilia Groom

Marian Tubbs, Alistair Watts and Amelia Groom took part in the group residency in BigCi. They worked on their individual projects. Marian was writing her PhD on sculpture and making some art work. Alistair had two areas of skill and interest that he was keen to investigate merging in a project.   Broadly, these were spatial design and dance.  Amelia was doing research and writing her dissertation on Japanese aesthetics.

Resident in the Spotlight: November 2011
Lauren Carroll Harris

Lauren Carroll Harris, an emerging artist from COFA will be at BigCi from 14 – 27 November, focusing on a new body of work for her upcoming solo exhibition at ‘Seventh Gallery’ in Melbourne. She will explore the relationship and sometimes disconnection between the natural world and the human built world. Lauren hopes that the natural setting of BigCi will allow her to develop a direct relationship with the land and explore the contrast between urban living and nature and how it influences us as individuals.

Resident in the Spotlight: October 2009
Mark Bolotin
IMG_0284Mark Bolotin is an award-winning director, multimedia practitioner and the founder and artistic director of Synarcade Audio-Visuals (www.synarcade.com.au). He has created numerous large-scale interactive work including “Emergence: Build Your Own Being” (2007, Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Arts House, Canberra Street Theatre). Mark’s current new multimedia work is a twelve-headed, holographic band called “The Lumiphonic Creature Choir” which was showcased in venues across New York City in 2012. As BigCi’s first artist-in-resident, Mark spent a month on the property writing music and lyrics for the Creatures.