Alchemy Artist Residency

By Claire M Tallarico, Founder | Alchemy Residency

Alchemy provides a safe and vibrant community for artists to live, work and share space, time, food and ideas. Long after they leave our Residency, artists create and participate in collaborative opportunities to make and exhibit work. Making art is often a solitary practice. In contrast, Alchemy’s participants and guest artists connect and become part of the fabric of the rural Ontario community Alchemy calls home. Alchemy’s community roots grow annually through the thoughtful participation of working artists in:

  • Art making
  • Food sharing
  • Garden and land exploration
  • Community engagement

The best way to share the thinking behind Alchemy is to share our story.

Eight summers ago I was at a self directed writer’s residency. To get over what I thought was a case of temporary writer’s block, I flipped through a colourful pile of old magazines in hopes of finding the inspiration to finish a languishing short story. Instead, what began to emerge from that day (and those that followed) was a passion for collage making, mono printing, abstract painting and eco dying. At that same time, I also found a creative outlet as a volunteer on Toronto Island at the Artscape Gibraltar Point‘s (AGP) vegetable garden. The AGP garden, as well as my own small but mighty city-side plot, fed another side of my soul — I am also a trained cook. I began to explore how visual and culinary arts could coexist or, pardon the pun, feed each other.

Combining these interests and sharing them with other like-minded artists, cooks and makers was a most rewarding creative experience.

This evolved into Alchemy: An artist run residency devoted to exploring the synergy between artistic practice and the cooking and sharing of locally cultivated food in a community setting. Participating artists in a variety of mediums (visual arts, sculpture, photography, performance art, writing or video) are inspired by their surroundings and share food, work and ideas in a communal and creative space.

Creating this residency is satisfying and enriching on so many levels; from meeting artists from Canada and abroad and seeing their desire to share ideas about this topic, to being part of some kick ass dinners and discussions.

In five years Alchemy has grown from an eight-day residency for seven artists on Toronto Island to two separate sessions for 2019. We are going back to our Island roots and offering our first spring residency April 15-22 (one spot left as of this writing!) And then our third summer (August 9-20) in Hillier, a town of 100 in a quiet corner of Prince Edward. Our summer home in Hillier is Chef Jamie Kennedy’s farm as well as two adjoining farmhouses. One of the original 2015 alchemists –Tonia di Risio a visual artist from Red Head Gallery is my collaborator, co conspirator and co facilitator.

We are now exploring alternative funding to lower the cost for artists to participate in Alchemy. You will find information about our first bursary this year – for an Ontario based artist in any form of practice. Alchemy is a labour of love — it costs money to house and feed everyone and offer stipends to those who contribute programming. Exploring other ways to finance our hard costs could allow us to offer more artists/ chefs/makers the ability to participate in this unique residency.

By finding new ways to share Alchemy, we hope to also find a way to contribute to a growing body of new creative thought in Canada and beyond about the intersection of food and art in community settings.

Claire M Tallarico is the founder of Alchemy. She is a Toronto based mixed media visual artist and cook. For more information about Alchemy please visit or Alchemy Residency on Instagram


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