Residency Profile of RUD AIR, Laxarby, Sweden
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, some practical information and a short interview with the people who run the residency. They are not reviews or ratings of the residency, instead they are meant to give you an general idea of what to expect in this place.
During October and November 2017, I was an artist in residence at RudAir in Laxarby, Sweden. RudAir is a residency in the countryside of Sweden, intended as a way for artists to get away from daily life and focus on their art and new ideas for a while. It’s a self directed, artist run residency, run by a single artist, Lina Berglund. You can read an interview with Lina here.
The residency is located in South-West Sweden, in the province of Dalsland, sometimes called ‘Little Sweden’ because it has all of Sweden’s landscape diversity in a small area. The largest town-about 30 km away- is Åmål(which you may have heard of from the movie Fucking Åmål!). The woods are full of wildlife and you can see deer hanging out in the fields around the house daily. More elusive but still calling these woods their homes are elk, and even lynx and wolves! In the midst of all this natural beauty is RUD Air, in old missionary church on a small hill overlooking the valley.
It’s about twenty minutes walking to the nearest busstop and 10 kilometers to Bengstfors, the nearest town. Endless trails circle the woods and my two months at Rud were spend quietly with my own thoughts, getting inspiration and new ideas, walking in the forests, trying to spot elk, baking, talking with my fellow artists or just silently working in the studio. RudAIR is meant as a place for artists to get away from the pressures of daily life and to offer time and space to create without pressure.
Living and working
You live in a house next to the studio, which has private rooms and a fully equiped shared kitchen/living room. The studio is one large space where each artist has their place to work, as you can see in the pictures there is also a space to hang out, some basic equipment and a piano. The studio is heated by a large wood stove, and there’s a door to the porch from where you have a beautiful view of the valley. There are large windows in the studio, which gives it nice natural light during the day but Lina mentioned she wanted to add more lights for better light during the night.
Lina is not always at the residency, but she shows you how things work when you first arrive and there are two people living nearby who you can call if you need help. She’ll send you a PDF with useful information about daily life when you get accepted, such as phone numbers, bus times and instructions for making the fire. In any season but summer, you will heat the house using a wood stove, which can be tricky at first if you’ve never done it before(like me!) in my experience people got used to pretty quickly.
In the area
The nearest town is Bengstfors, about 10 km away from Rud. It has grocery stores, cafe’s, a liquor store, pizzeria, even a yarn store and a candy factory where you can buy cheap and delicious chocolate. You can go there by bus, which takes about 15-20 minutes. The bus goes back and forth about 8 times a day during weekdays, 3 times a day on Saturday and once a day on Sunday.
In other towns nearby, there is some cultural actvity going on; there is the Steneby art school in Dals Långed and the Not Quite cultural center, with ateliers and a cafe, in Fengersfors. If you want to visit them or get involved that is possible and some artists have ended their stay with a small exhibition in the studio to show their work, for which it’s very suitable. However, there is no pressure to do any of that if you just want to wander around and develop new ideas without the need for an outcome.
There is an art supply shop we visited with Lina by car, but it’s not in Bengstfors and I imagine it would be pretty hard to get there by bus-it wasn’t in a town or anything. It would be best to take everything you need, but if you really need something else, the shop is there and it was very well stocked with quality materials.
Life at Rud isn’t very expensive-mainly because the town is far enough that you go there perhaps once or twice a week, and if you resist the urge to spend your entire budget at the liquor store you won’t find it too hard to stay within a reasonable budget. The draw of this place is the nature, the quiet and the beauty of your surroundings-all of which are free!
Live at RuD moves at a quiet pace, it allows you to relax and get new ideas. My time here was very productive as well as inspiring. If you’re looking for natural beauty-this place definitively has that! The house itself has everything you need, nothing is too much and it’s clear that there is a lot of love and attention behind this space. If you come from a big city, I can imagine it is a bit of an adjustment-it’s very dark at night because there are no city lights and you’ll have to get used to walking a lot and making your fire to heat the house in the morning. From what I observed of the other artists and what I noticed myself though is that you adapt quickly and the simple life with no distractions is a big part of the charm of this place.
This part of the Residency Profile will give you some practical information that will be useful in deciding if you’d like to apply to be an artist in residency at this place.
Where: Laxarby, Dalsland, Sweden.
How any artists can stay: One to three individual artists can stay at the same time. It is possible to come as a couple or to bring your partner.
How much does it cost: Between 4000 and 6000 SEK(about 400-600 euro)per month per person, depending on which room you want
Who is it for: It’s open to many kinds of artists, if you’re not sure if your kind of work would be suitable, you can send an email them to ask.
What’s the outcome: An exhibition is possible, but not needed. There are no pressures about the outcome of your work.
How to apply: Send them an email with a motivation of your stay, three possible dates in order of preference, CV and documentation of your work/link to your website.
How to get there:
For most people, they will be arriving from either Oslo, Gothenburg or Stockholm. The nearest train stations are in Ed and Åmål, from which you would take the bus 775 towards(respectively)Amal or Bengstfors/Ed and get out at the bus stop Laxarby Trekanten, from where you’ll be picked up by car, since the residency is 20 minutes walking away from this bus stop. I would advise-as often with residencies in more rural areas-to try to arrive during the week rather than in the weekend if you’re going to come with public transport, as the bus goes quite often during the week but only three times a day on saturday and once a day on sunday.
Check www.sj.se for trains in Sweden,
www.nsb.no for trains in Norway,
and www.vasttrafik.se for the bus information. All sites have English versions as well.
Keep in mind that the earlier you book your train ticket, the cheaper it will be! Train tickets released 3 months before departure will be cheapest.
A few practical questions for Lina, the host and owner of Rud AIR:
What is the most popular time for people to come here?
Summer, as you can probably guess!
Is there a time when not a lot of people apply for, but you feel that it’s actually a great time to visit?
September! September is beautiful here! For some reason for the two past years, there have been cancellations in September, and I had to find new people last minute but it hasn’t been full.It’s strange because it’s so beautiful in this area in September.
And in the winter, do people come specifically for the winter?
Yes, for example, in February there is the most chance for snow. But of course, you can’t really predict snow. The residency isn’t always been open in the winter, since it’s so much colder. It can get -15, or even colder sometimes! But this year in February it’s open.
What do you feel makes a good residency application?
The motivation, because I ask people to write about why they want to come here. That’s quite important because then I see that they’ve read the site and they know about this place. They need to know the nearest town is 10 km away, the bus stop is 20 minutes walking, practical things. Sometimes people send the same application to many residencies, and they write ‘dear director’ or ‘dear sir’. And then they haven’t really read what this place is. I need to know that they know.
Does that happen sometimes, that people come here and they either don’t know or they get overwhelmed with the practicalities of being here?
No, actually it doesn’t, except perhaps the fire..in autumn, spring and winter you use a fire stove with wood and you have to learn how to use it, it can take people a little while to learn.
So if you’re scared of using the fire stove you should apply for summer?
Yes! But you get used to it quickly, it’s a good thing to learn!
How long would you recommend people stay?
I would say at least two months. One month is very quick, it takes time to adapt, to settle in. Sometimes people stay for longer periods too, like three months.
Do people come back sometimes?
Yes, this happens, there’s a Swiss couple that comes every June for..four or five years already! There’s another, an artist from Ireland who comes back in September. It’s very nice to have people come back, you don’t even have to apply, you’re welcome to come back!
These are some questions I asked Lina about the practical issues around a residency, but if you’d like to read the full interview with her, you can do that here. In this interview, we go more in depth about her, how she started the residency, the rewards and challenges that come with running a residency and how a residency period can bring you into a flow to help you create without pressure. It was a great talk I had with her and I’m very happy with the interview, so go ahead and read it!
If you’d like to know more about Rud Air, there website is here