Bridge & Falls Creative Residency

TINY STUDIOS making a big splash on the eastern shores of Lake of the Woods, in the small communities of Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls: for artists & idea professionals – residents & visitors, too!

by Denise Lysak, Cultural Officer | Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls

It is fitting to start by raising a glass, to every artist that simply dares to be an artist. To the painters, the writers, the storytellers, the potters, the felters, and the puppet-makers – the Bridge & Falls Creative Residency is for you. Make no mistake about it…

With the full support of Mayor & Council, the Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls continues to support a framework that bridges our natural environs with tiny “built”, dedicated cultural spaces, designed to create connections to nature, a shared history and heritage, and the greater artistic community in rural and remote northwestern Ontario. Since 2016,

The Bridge & Falls Creative Residency has piqued the curiosity of artists, from near and far away. In all four seasons, northwestern Ontario is one of the most beautiful and geographically interesting places on earth. The perfect place for any creative person to get inspired, the rural and remote Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls hosts a programme for artists-in-residence that affords them the time and space to take a deep dive into their artistic practices. The self-directed residency program is open to a variety of artistic and creative disciplines. A small honorarium and stipend are offered to each participant.

What makes the creative residency local and unique to the communities of Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls are three fundamental aspects:

  1.  Tiny day-use studios, purpose-built to be creative spaces: each with their own set of design/build elements that connect the user to nature and vice versa;
  2. Synergistic partnerships that serve to craft a distinctive platform for the residency program;
  3. A juried process with an open call for applications that asks the “artist” how the residency in the wilds of northwestern Ontario will help shapeshift their particular work.

Residencies happen absolutely everywhere. For the Bridge & Falls Creative Residency in Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls we have taken our inspiration from: Fogo Island, Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Ucross Foundation – just to name a few. And, in communities that surround the Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, one can find artist-in-residency programs. There is a specific hope that we can develop a loop: an artist-in-residency trail that promotes and advocates for each and every residency program in this region. So, pull out a map and look up a few of these creative spaces and you will see that the Bridge & Falls Creative Residency is in very good company indeed: Lighthouse Artist in Residence Program in Thunder Bay; Quetico Artist in Residence Program (Quetico Provincial Park); Artist in Residency at the Experimental Lakes Area; and Artist in Residency in Falcon Lake, MB. In the not so distant future, another residency will be offered in the City of Kenora when the construction of the new Arts Centre is complete, later in 2019!

If you are thinking about starting a residency and wondering, “who will care”? Or “am I all alone in the universe?” It is safe to say, you are not. Let’s circle back to the early days of the residency. Our process began with a community consultation to seek out ideas and common interests. From the very beginning – the idea of a residency and “what it might look like” and “how it would shapeshift the communities of Nestor Falls and Sioux Narrows” were big questions with evolving narratives. Narrowing down the potential and the impact was one of our greatest hurdles. For the Bridge & Falls Creative Residency…the three arching goals are: a) to afford the artist the time and space to create; b) to support interactions between visiting artists and the greater artistic community in our region; c) to blaze a trail, for the visiting artist, with a direct roadmap, by land or by water to the natural environs that truly define the eastern shores of Lake of the Woods.

With the Bridge & Falls Creative Residency (BFCR), we have many people to thank including the artists, the sponsors, the supporting partners, and the brave & bold leaders in our community who stepped up to make it all happen. In the first year, the artists certainly took a chance on an unknown residency and are we ever glad that they did. Since 2016, we have invited 15 artists to jump into their artistic practice and they have come from as far south as North Carolina, as far west as Vancouver, BC and as far east as Brooklyn, New York.

The artists have engaged with the artistic community in the Township by hosting artist talkbacks, by opening the doors to the tiny studios for “open houses”, and by sharing conversations by the campfire, on starbright summer nights with people from near and far away.

If it is fitting to start by saluting the artist, then that is where this blog should end. Here is what Terri Gillis, a playwright and author said about her residency in the summer of 2018: On the Rock allowed me the time, space, and opportunity to put bundles of notes, pages, and thoughts in order. While I was there I was able to see what my writing project is and will become and I had hours of solitude to put words on the page. This is an amazing place where silence exists allowing artists to open their voices and hear the story.”

#air #tinystudios #artandarchitecture #livethelakelife #siouxnarrowsnestorfalls

To learn more about the BFCR, please visit

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