Residency Profile of Nomads-in-Residence, Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands
The Residency Profiles are reports of places I have visited, either as an artist in residence or as a visitor. They provide you with an overview of the residency and some practical information. They are not reviews or ratings of the residency, instead they are meant to give you an general idea of what to expect.
In January 2018, I was invited to stay one night in Nomads In Residence in Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands, to write about it for this site. The Nomads is a tiny house like residency space in the suburb of Leidsche Rijn, right at the edge of the Maxima park, and it’s operated by Cutuur19, who organise cultural events in the neighbourhood. I met up with Leonie and Ineke and interviewed them about the Nomads and the story behind it, that interview will be online shortly.
The Nomads is located in the neighbourhood Leidsche Rijn, which has about 60.000 inhabitants and has, as a newly developed suburb of the city Utrecht, been growing rapidly in the past twenty years or so. It’s a typical Dutch suburb in a way, but of course every neighbourhood is filled with it’s own people, who have their own stories and make their neighbourhood unique. It’s located right on the edge of the Maxima park, which is quite a large park with lots of people coming by. There’s a lot of cultural activity going on in Leidsche Rijn and it’s close to the university city of Utrecht.
The Nomads-as the name suggests-is nomadic, it’s only temporarily at this location. It will move again at the end of 2018 and it’s unclear if it will remain a residency yet, so if you want to stay there, make sure you do it soon! As a Dutch artist, I found it very interesting to stay in a neighbourhood that is so similar to what I’ve seen before in suburbs around The Hague, where I’m from, but at the same time so different. Although you are free to create whatever you want during your time in the Nomads, Cultuur19 does like it if you look for a link with the neighbourhood or develop a project with the local population. They have a network in the neighbourhood and can help you find connections to people for your project.
Living and working
The house looks like a black box from the outside but is surprisingly spacious and comfortable on the inside. It has everything you need-a nice kitchen area with a fridge and cooking space and kitchen table, a workspace, bathroom and toilet and sleeping area. You can slide the walls to create different spaces and open the sides to open the building up and create a porch-and show the passersby what you’re working on! This flexibility of the building is really interesting, if you keep everything closed as I did(it was January..)you barely hear anything from outside and you’re really inside your own little world, but you can open it up completely if you feel like it. I imagine in the summer this would be amazing, open the walls and work outside in the park!
A few more practical things; there are mattresses but you need to bring your own bedding, there’s parking space if you’re coming by car but it’s also very easy to get to by public transport. There is everything you need to cook with and some basics like tea and coffee as well. I found the heating to be fine, I wasn’t cold through the night but depending on your cold tolerance and the time of year you might want to bring an extra sweater. Oh, and not unimportant-the wifi is great.
Ineke will show you around when you arrive and tell you about the practical things, she’ll explain how the alarm system works(very easy) and such things. She doesn’t live there obviously but she lives nearby so if something goes wrong you can call her. The building itself is really very cool, if you’ve wanted to experience what it’s like to live in a small place with many different functions and where everything is designed to work just so-it’s really a great experience.
In the area
Even though the Nomads is at the edge of a park, it’s not remote at all. It’s right in the neighbourhood-which is very nice if you want to do a project with the local population! The local shopping centre is about five minutes walking away; it has supermarkets(Albert Heijn and Lidl), pharmacy, baker, basically anything you need, including a library and the office of Cultuur19, where you should definitely go and have a cup of coffee with them-they’re really nice and their office is great.
They organise local cultural events and you’re welcome to come over and have a look at what they do. They encourage you to wander through the neighbourhood and explore, the people are curious about the Nomads and what’s happening there. There are a lot of young families living there, as well as people who’ve lived in Leidsche Rijn their entire lives and seen it change as it grows and develops more and more into it’s own city. For a socially engaged artist, this place is really interesting and Cultuur19 can help you find the connections you need or help you promote your project in the neighbourhood.
The nearest train station is Vleuten which is frequented by trains from the directions of The Hague and Utrecht, you can walk from there to the Nomads or take the bus to the shopping centre. It’s only two stops and from there it’s a five minute walk to the Nomads.
Life in the Netherlands is in general fairly expensive, though Leidsche Rijn is less expensive than Amsterdam. Cooking for yourself will definitely help you keep the costs down, as eating out in the Netherlands is expensive. Getting a bike will help with keeping public transport costs down, and the neighbourhood is very walkable as well. Although there is a free parking space in front of the Nomads, you don’t really need a car unless you’re planning to use a lot of heavy stuff.
I think it would be very interesting to work in the Nomads, especially if you’re doing site specific work or like to do work involving local populations. For a Dutch artist, it’s a great way to gain an insight into a place you probably know very little about and for a foreign artist it really gives you the opportunity to become part of a community for a while, a community that’s very representative of how a lot of Dutch people live. You really become part of normal life, if you want to. You could also close the walls and windows and stay inside to completely focus on a project, if you’d prefer that. Both possibilities are in the building itself and that is really fascinating, it offers you everything you need and all the opportunities-it’s up to you to make something of it.
As said before, the Nomads will stay in this location until the end of 2018, so if you want to stay here, make sure you do it this year!
Where: Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands
How any artists can stay: There are four mattresses, so you could stay there with four people but I imagine it might be crowded if you’re all sleeping there. One or two would be best, I think. You don’t have to sleep there, you can also just use it as a working space if you have a different place to stay.
How much does it cost: 150 euro per week, including heating, electricity, wifi, etc(but not including food).
Who is it for: Visual artists, writers, theatre makers..if you’re not sure if your kind of work would be suitable, you can email them to ask.
What’s the outcome: That’s up to you, they ask you to write a bit for their blog explaining what you do, but how and if you want to show your work to the public is up to you. An exhibition, open studio or event is possible and Cultuur19 can help you with their network and communication, as well as their knowledge about what you might need. They do have a preference for works that relate somehow to the neighbourhood or work with the local population.
How to apply: Send an email to them with your idea, and talk with Ineke from there. The application process is informal, but they do ask that you are a professional artist(or an art student), are willing to blog about your work and mention in your concept how you’d like to make a link to the local neighbourhood. They’re really nice people and open to different ideas, so if you have an idea, just send them an email and work from there.
How to get there:
It’s easy to get to; you take the train to Vleuten(which will require you to get on a sprinter train from either The Hague or Utrecht)and from there you can take bus 28 towards and get off at stop from which it’s a short 5 minute walk, or you can walk from the station, which should take you about 10-15 minutes. Use the address Europaweg 25 for your navigation because the actual street name is a temporary one and thus not recognised by Google Maps. There’s parking space in front of the Nomads as well.
Use 9292ov.nl for mapping our your journey including the bus, or ns.nl for the train journey. Unlike many European countries, Dutch train tickets are not cheaper when bought ahead of time. If you can speak Dutch or don’t mind doing some translating for cheaper tickets, it can be worth to check the website goedkopetreinkaartjes.nl for deals on train tickets, since trains in the Netherlands are fairly expensive. If you’re staying for a while I’d suggest trying to get a bike somewhere(you can buy them second hand in Utrecht cheaply), most of the locals get around on their bikes and it’s a great way to see a lot of the neighbourhood.
I hope this profile will be useful to you if you’re interested in going to Leidsche Rijn as an artist! If you want to learn more, check out their website.