Alchemy 2018

Alchemy 2018: A Recipe for an Artists Residency in Prince Edward CountyDSC_7426


Alchemy 2018 was a summer gathering of selected visual artists hosted by Claire M Tallarico and Tonia di Rico, set in the quiet rural community of Hillier in Prince Edward County, Ontario. In its 4th year, the artists’ residency is a mix of social experiment, communal cooking, studio practice and culinary exploration all wrapped up in remembering  and sharing family recipes and stories of those who made them.



-12 Visual Artists from Canada and beyond (Korea, Ireland, Sweden and USA)

-Pecha Kucha – illustrated introductions by each participant

-10 days in full summer at the peak of the harvest season

-Rural setting with 3 residential houses in wine county

-Large Community Hall transformed into a temporary studio 

-Well equipped community kitchen

-Communal dinners made from local produce

-Pasta making workshop and dinner

-Visits to local wine makers and organic gardens

-A beach picnic at sunset



Bringing together a group of strangers who have accepted to travel from near and far and hoping they will gel into a functional community in a 10 day period takes some tending and some time. This is what the hosts Claire and Tonia provided. They cared for all the logistical details and made introductions. Once settled in our houses and our communal studio, Claire and Tonia hosted a welcome dinner. Claire is a master chef and knows how to host a conversation that draws each person into the mix. Tonia has her eye on all the details and works to sort out the myriad issues and challenges that arise.

Each house was asked to host a dinner and also to contribute to pot-luck dinners during the week. The meals were occasions for house mates to work together to plan and shop then cook the meals. Attention to all the details including the story of the food was always apparent and as each meal was presented there was something of an unspoken competition arising between the houses. The table settings were always a sight for the eyes, the aroma from the kitchen was very fine and the conversation was woven between cooking and the practice of art making. This is the Alchemy of the residency!



While the focus of the residency was on the gathering of community through the making and hosting of evening meals we also found time for yoga in the mornings, touring the local wineries and making art in-between. 

My project was to make a recipe book of sorts from the experience of the residency. Initially I thought I would document each meal and the recipes and stories involved but soon realized that was far too ambitious. I settled on one recipe for Cinnamon Buns made jointly by Liz from Ireland who grew up in Sweden and Adrianna from NYC whose Swedish grandmother made a similar recipe. With the 200 or so images collected during the making of the Kunel Bullar (cinnamon buns) and the stories from each of us highlighting our memories and family traditions around this recipe, we three artists will collaborate over the internet to make an artist book which might be called “A Storied Recipe”. I look forward to continuing the spirit of the residency with this collaborative project. Stay tuned for news of the publishing date.