Spring sparks inspiration in 2024

Feb 09 2024

The two-week Swan Haven Artist Residency is April 17-30. Yukon Government photo.

By Amy Kenny

Nothing wakes Yukoners up like the return of spring, and the Yukon Arts Centre (YAC) is hoping that excitement translates to inspiration for at least one Yukon artist this year.

“There really is something about the spring,” says Mary Bradshaw, director of visual arts at YAC. “And it feels like that first little inkling of the season is the swans.”

From now until Feb. 23, YAC is accepting applications for its brand new Swan Haven Artist Residency, a partnership with Yukon Wildlife Viewing and the Department of the Environment. 

The announcement coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Swan Haven Interpretive Centre, located on Marsh Lake. That’s where thousands of migratory birds rest each spring as they return North, drawing almost equal numbers of Yukoners and visitors each April to witness the sight.  

“We’re thrilled about it,” says Bradshaw. “It’s going to be a really sweet little time for an artist out there.”

“We’ve modelled it on our Tombstone National Park Residency in the sense that we’re asking the artist to do a number of workshops and public outreach while they’re there, but also making sure that they have time just to create and to kind of have a bit of a retreat,” she says. 

From April 17 to 30, one successful artist will have the opportunity to live in a cabin on Marsh Lake, with a wood-heated wall tent to use as a studio.

The artist receives a $3,000 honorarium in exchange for hosting a few public events including workshops, talks or demonstrations, and drop-in sessions where the public can view the artist at work. The artist must also provide digital copies of the work produced during their residency within three months of the residency’s completion. 

Bradshaw says enthusiasm for the residency is already high. Typically, the majority of applications for YAC residencies come through the final day of submissions. But for this one, a number of artists have already put submissions forward. 

And though the Swan Haven Residency can only accommodate one artist, Bradshaw says YAC offers plenty of other opportunities through its Jenni House Artist Residency and Kluane National Park Artist Residency. 

Jenni House application deadline is Feb. 14 and has a second deadline of Aug. 14. The Kluane Park residency deadline is Feb. 15 for 2025. 

The Jenni House residencies are offered monthly, and allow artists from the Yukon and the North (including the Northwest Territories, Northern B.C., Alaska, Nunavut and circumpolar countries) to use historic cabins in Shipyards Park as a home base for creating work in a variety of media. 

Over the years, this has included visual arts, film and media, music, literary arts, spoken word and multi-disciplinary/multimedia art. 

These residencies include a $1,000 honorarium, some travel support when necessary, and materials costs for public engagement sessions.  

The Kluane residency can accommodate two artists over the summer months and is currently taking application for 2025. There’s space reserved for one Canadian artist and one Northern artist (from Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik in northern Quebec, Nunatsiavut in northern Labrador, and Indigenous artists from these regions living elsewhere in Canada). 

Successful applicants get to spend two weeks at the Kluane Lake Research Station. Artists are given a $3,000 honorarium. Room and board are also provided in exchange for a number of public outreach activities. 

Bradshaw says one of the interesting things about the Kluane residency is that artists can communicate and collaborate with scientists doing work at the research station, which has led to interesting projects in the past. 

The possibility is there to do something similar with the Swan Haven residency at Marsh Lake, she says. 

“Swan Haven was saying they actually have all of the data going back for years and years for the number of swans a day and so on,” she says. “And they were like ‘do you think an artist might want to tap into some sort of art/science crossover?’ So who knows?”

Click links below to apply:

Jenni House Artist Residency - Feb. 14 deadline.

Kluane National Park Artist Residency - Feb. 15 deadline

Swan Haven Artist Residency - Feb. 28 deadline.