HMC by Kit Kingsbury
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Hungarian Multicultural Center


(1) Introduction

The Hungarian Multicultural Center (HMC) is a non-profit corporation supported by private donations. The artist-in-residence programme is for artists involved in the creation of visual arts and literature. It is neither a school nor an artist's colony. It does, however, offer an opportunity for professional artists to explore their full creative potential.

In July 2007, Newcastle upon Tyne-based artist, Kit Kingsbury, participated in a three-week residency at the HMC. At this time, the HMC was located in a guesthouse near Balatonfured, a beautiful coastal town, approximately two hours from Budapest but has now moved to downtown Budapest.

(2) Background

The Hungarian Multicultural Center was founded in 1995 to provide artists from all over the world with the opportunity to explore their practice within a stimulating and supportive environment. The artist-in-residence programme aims to bring together international artists at different stages of their careers in order to foster cultural exchange and development. Therefore, artists may use the residency to accomplish a specific project or experiment with their practice in a nurturing environment alongside other international artists.

Kit Kingsbury was determined to make the most of her time at HMC from the start:
Like many other artists at the HMC, I chose to arrive in Hungary a few days prior to the official start date of my residency in order to explore and collect source material from Budapest.

(3) Application
The HMC receives around 500 applications per year with artists selected by a board of directors. Four residencies take place each year and run for a period of three weeks in May, June, July and two weeks in December. Applicants submit an application form, CV, statement and 10 images of their work (preferably on CD). Kit Kingsbury applied in January 2007. There is a $35 application fee.

(4) Support
Artists have to cover all their own costs. However, for Kingsbury this was not an issue:
I believe that the prestige of having an international residency in Hungary really helped me to secure funding for a subsequent six-month residency in Japan from Arts Council England, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and Great British Sasakawa Foundation.
Artists at HMC are provided with shared studio spaces, living accommodation and the opportunity to exhibit their practice internationally at the Congress Centre in Balatonfured and the Vizivarosi Gallery in Budapest. Although, there are some shared painting supplies, resources are limited and so, artists should expect to bring any necessary equipment with them. However, artists are really well supported by HMC's founder/director Beata Szechy, an internationally renowned Hungarian artist and Anett Henye, the guesthouse manager.

(5) Motivation
Prior to my residency at the HMC, I had successfully completed an artist-in-residence at CAMAC, an arts centre in France (funded by Arts Council England and the Oppenheim John Downes Memorial Trust). Through, this experience I had reaped significant rewards and my practice had flourished both aesthetically and conceptually. I decided that I wished to complete a second residency abroad in order to develop/exhibit my practice further and build on my international profile. My practice revolves around one's perception of place and utilises an array of obscure motifs drawn from my personal engagement with foreign environments. I was particularly drawn to HMC due to its location and the short-term nature of the residency programme as, at the time, I was working within education and so wished to focus on my practice during the summer break.

(6) Goals
Through the residency, I hoped to explore Hungary's heritage in order to accumulate a wealth of culturally rich, practice-led research and concentrate on the development of my practice, away from everyday pressures and distractions. Inspired by a stimulating and supportive environment, the experience empowered me to respond to a unique body of research material and explore new directions in my work. Bombarded by an array of new experiences and stimuli, the residency enabled me to experiment with a wondrous collection of contrasting signs, texts and structures and experiment with the fusion of abstract, textual and representational forms employed within my practice.
The residency allowed me to focus intensively on my creative process and re-evaluate my practice. Artists are asked to deliver one presentation regarding their practice but otherwise are completely self-directed during the residency. However, due to the short-term nature of the residency and its stunning location, there were numerous distractions and so, I had to structure my time very carefully.

(7) Outcomes
During the residency, I created a new series of seven small-scale paintings. I also, exhibited in a group show at the Congress Centre in Balatonfured with other artists who had resided at the HMC. Although, a number of the exhibiting artists could not attend due to returning home, the exhibition was well attended and a number of artists including myself, sold work. At the end of the residency, artists donate one piece of work to the HMC's collection and the following year, the donated works are included in a group exhibition at the Vizavarosi Gallery in Budapest.

(8) Legacy
Through living and working as an artist in Hungary, my confidence as an artist has soared. Inspired by a wealth of new experiences and stimuli, the residency enabled me to explore new directions, re-evaluate my practice and obtain a wealth of new source material for subsequent paintings. The experience also, resulted in lasting friendships, which in turn have led to further creative opportunities. For example, I am currently in the initial stages of organising an exhibition in the U.S. with Courtnee Bennett, a fellow artist-in-resident at the HMC and have just recently been invited by Nataniel Moiane, another artist that I met through the HMC to exhibit in Mozambique.
I also, believe that the prestige of fulfilling a residency abroad has significantly heightened my profile as an artist based in the North East of England and enabled me to establish fruitful new connections and networks, which have also, led to subsequent opportunities both nationally and internationally. For example, my CV now looks a lot healthier when applying for opportunities and I am currently, in the midst of a six-month arts residency at Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo, Japan (funded by Arts Council England, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and Great British Sasakawa Foundation). Overall, I completely relished my time in Hungary and I am so grateful to the HMC for providing me such a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity.