‘…a wondrous village within a village where judgement is the only foreign word, and everything is connected by the same ligature of love, and urge for creation…’
Miguel Guerrero Becerra, 2019
Colin met me off the train, giving me a quick tour round the wee windy lanes by the river before heading ‘home’ to the lovely big house that is Studio Faire where Julia, accompanied by Becca and Dougie (the dogs of Usher) welcomed us at the door. It’s a very comfortable living space, very relaxed, really happy and so peaceful.
The days are spent however you wish to spend them, whether it is to work or to contemplate on your practice/your life. Julia and Colin have firmly established themselves in the local community and can be trusted to be of whatever assistance needed but also have the respect to let you get on with the thing you need to do, your raison d’etre. Either way, you never feel lonely.
I met writer-in-residence Krystal Sutherland and multimedia-artist-residence Kate Corroon Skakel. Our evenings were spent with everyone catching up and exchanging ideas round the dining table. A real joy.
It was a privilege to be there and it’ll be a privilege to go back.
They say memories come back to us in a coalition of scattered bits and pieces, like rubbed off soap flakes or melting iceberg caps. Memories are the debris of past experiences that streak and doodle our minds in sporadic and uninvited flashes, they swirl and bounce and hiss by imperceptibly with the ripples and whirlpools of time. Some return to us with lesser injuries, but most of them are marred and maimed by the ferocious lapping of the all-consuming ocean of our subconscious, where they float calmly amid forgetfulness and orbs of electric darkness.
I believe, however, that there are full-blooded memories so wholeheartedly fleshed-out, engorged, fed, carved, into our brainpans by the onset of the experiences they stemmed from, that they fasten themselves to unknown compartments of our hearts, where they throb to the rhythm of their own pulsations and refuse to be flung into the diaspora of oblivion.
My experience at Studio Faire pulses and resides at the tip of my heart, my memories of that enchanted place dwell in a warm region peopled by all the other chronicles and occurrences that have nourished and given nutriment to my passion for the craft of writing.
A chart of pink-hued mornings and orange-streaked afternoons sustained me for four weeks. The pomegranate bleeding color of the setting sun splashing against the granulated window panes of my personal studio remains etched in glittering patterns on the walls of my eyeballs. You couldn’t get more inspiration even if you sold your soul to the devil. The burning windows at dawn, the morning runs along the banks of a river of jade, the serene whispering of the wind tickling your earlobes in the middle of the afternoon when I strolled through the gardens, the tiptoeing moonlight that made my breastplate creak, and the blinking, acid stars winking at me when I sat down to stare at the bruised sky before going to bed, my limbs peppered with the appeasing certainty that in this world, in this chunk of terrestrial wonder with its own axis, existed no hurried pressure, no devouring ordinariness, only art and determination, all of it kindled my brain ablaze, transfigured it into a radiant spot where cells and dark matter and imagination collided and a gush of words churned and materialized in shapes and colors and smells I never thought myself capable of conjuring.
I pierced through the veil of uncharted dimensions while working at Studio Faire. I accomplished feats and smashed down barricades that for years had vexed and shunned and pilfered my self-confidence as a writer. For the first time in a long while, I was being given the right space, regaled with the appropriate atmosphere, overindulged with the encouragement of peers and artists, to look into myself, and watch the waters of my soul swell and ebb.
Studio Faire not only changed me, it transformed me. Julia and Colin have established a sanctuary, a wondrous village within a village where judgement is the only foreign word, and everything is connected by the same ligature of love, and urge for creation.
‘If Studio Faire is this great already, with Julia and Colin’s passion, dedication and continued renovations, it’s set to be one of the greats. Apply now before there’s a waiting list a mile long!’
Peta Berghofer, 2019
Julia and Colin provided a peaceful space for me to think and create. You can’t help but feel inspired by picturesque Nérac and their grand home, full of history and quirk. It’s exactly as the pictures suggest – idyllic, comfortable and stunning. Snippets of Studio Faire will seep into my work for a long time to come.
I was able to achieve all of my goals. For someone who works with clay, the residency was the perfect opportunity for project development, research, writing and website updating. I even took personally tailored photography lessons with Colin.
To top it all off, I met and worked amongst a talented, friendly line-up of artists. If Studio Faire is this great already, with Julia and Colin’s passion, dedication and continued renovations, it’s set to be one of the greats. Apply now before there’s a waiting list a mile long!
Quiet, early mornings making coffee in the beautiful, historic house; walks through town, with the heavenly smell of fresh baguettes and croissants wafting down the street from the boulangerie; reading, writing, laughing, and talking about life and art with Julia and Colin and the other residents in the garden over wine and camembert; taking personalized French lessons that played a critical role in the development of my book and my practice as a translator; having the extended time to get to know the people and places in the town and fully immerse myself in the language, culture, and lifestyle of southwest France; the food, the markets, the views, the sights, and the friendships I’m lucky to take with me beyond Studio Faire — all of it was such a gift for my writing and my life.
I will never forget my time at Studio Faire because it is embedded in my book. In fact, I would not have written this book in the way I wanted to without my time at Studio Faire. There is a magical thing happening there, created by Julia and Colin’s immense generosity, their infectious spirit of adventure, and their commitment to fostering a life where every moment aligns with your values and passions. I am grateful to them beyond words.
‘It goes far beyond providing a room to sleep and work in. The exchanging of ideas and personal histories, storytelling and music…we had it all.’
Deborah Whitney, 2019
Carlton Cuse writes: The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations. Yes, it’s really helpful to be marching toward a specific destination, but, along the way, you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow.
Studio Faire was my garden for the early summer. The house is a sanctuary of peace and calm. The experience of having the quiet lovely town of Nerác unfold and the daily walks along the moss green river became the norm. The process of unwinding…literally unfurling the layers of daily life in the unfamiliar allows for ideas to enter. There is nothing else quite like it.
Colin and Julia are generous, humorous and kind. They did whatever they could to aid to the blossoming, rooting and growing. It goes far beyond providing a room to sleep and work in. The exchanging of ideas and personal histories, storytelling and music…we had it all. And I loved learning about the disparate lives of the other residents as they too made their own discoveries. One could be private in the studio working in one’s personal rhythm, yet there was also opportunity to chat and come to understand what it was to live and work in this very sweet part of the world.
It is opportunities like these, and the people who provide them, that we should be grateful for in the quest for creative revelations. And I very much am.
Thanks to Studio Faire, it was more than a visit. For three weeks I lived in beautiful Nérac, France, fully immersed in an alternate universe where I forged relationships and memories that will last a lifetime. Leaving reduced me to tears. I never expected that.
Thank you Julia and Colin for providing me with the space to create without the distractions and responsibilities of my day-to-day life in the States. I accomplished more in three weeks than I dreamed possible. Illustrations magically poured onto paper. As a result, publishing my book finally feels like a reality instead of a pipe dream.
Yes, I worked hard, but Julia and Colin assisted me in creating the perfect balance of work and play. I will never forget: boating down La Baïse, the photo exhibit at Lectoure, the cats of La Romieu, fields of sunflowers, a French beer festival where a four course meal cost just 17 euros, and Tuesday night market in Nérac – an intimate party for 2,000 of your friends and neighbors. Most of all I will never forget the people.
My three weeks at Studio Faire was perfect. I have only one regret – I had to leave.
The city of Nérac is also a good environment to explore and to be able to focus on your work in solitude. It provides opportunities to experience the southern France lifestyle while creating in peace.
Everyday I was surprised how much time and energy Colin and Julia invested into us residents. Staying at Studio Faire felt like visiting old friends. And Becca and Dougie ensure that dog therapy is part of the package!
I had the pleasure of spending a month at Studio Faire in June/July 2019.
Everything about Studio Faire facilitates creative expression and creative rest. My office space was comfortable, spacious, and private with a beautiful view of the garden to let in the light. It’s also (bonus!) close to the kitchen so you’re not far from a snack or hot cup of coffee. My bedroom was also spacious and comfortable, with shutters to keep out the heat and help me to rest properly. The garden is an absolute dream.
Julia and Colin have literally opened up their home to make space for people to be their best creative selves, and I felt completely at home. Because the house and garden are so spacious you have the opportunity to decide how much time you spend with the other residents, which means you can put your head down when you need to and socialize when you’re keen for a break. It’s ideal!
Nerac is a lovely town with a marvelous forest walk, some bakeries to die for, and plenty of things to keep you interested. I loved my time there and would love to return in the future.
I spent a fortnight at Studio Faire and enjoyed a great residency and a lot of laughs. Colin & Julia are fantastic hosts, friendly, funny, welcoming and always willing to provide information, advice and help with practical matters. The relaxed and supportive atmosphere put me quickly at ease and I was able to settle in to creative work immediately.
The house is dripping with character. Julia and Colin are slowly peeling back the layers of history and revealing and restoring the period features to provide a charming space to live and work.
Nérac itself is a great base – small and friendly but with loads of history and character. I loved the old architecture, narrow streets and faded facades and spent a lot of time walking, exploring and filming around the town. There is so much visual and aural richness right there on the doorstep. Studio Faire is a great location for a residency whether you are seeking inspiration and creative recharging or needing some time for quiet reflection and development.
‘…already planning my return with my collaborators!’
Robin Gee, 2018
Julia and Colin were very hospitable and fun to be around. Their home and their town are breathtaking and gave me everything I needed for inspiration, a quiet work space and social interaction. Colin was able to share his photography knowledge with me, catering to where I needed to grow. I would not hesitate to recommend staying at Studio Faire for an artist’s residency.
I cannot say enough about my experience at Studio Faire. My week-long residency flew by, as the environment Colin and Julia created allowed for the most productive, fulfilling and focused screenwriting work I’ve done in quite some time. Leaving my little “writing cave” in New York City for the peacefulness of Nérac was inspiring, as my mental and physical space at Studio Faire freed my mind and I successfully pushed through major writing blocks I’ve been struggling with. In addition, Colin and Julia are lovely, and I enjoyed our dinners, conversations, and fun out and about in southwestern France. (And their dogs Becca and Dougie are the sweetest). I already miss my routine of going down to my studio and opening up the garden doors to fill my writing space with beautiful light, and the long runs I’d go on exploring the countryside in the early evening. I can’t wait to return to Studio Faire in the future. To all of my artist friends in the States, make the hop across the pond over to Nérac. And do the full month if you can. Studio Faire quickly felt like home away from home.
Colin and Julia are so warm and welcoming. Together, they have created something truly unique and special in Nérac. The grounds are vibrant, the house itself is a living sculpture, and the surrounding village is postcard picturesque. Any hint of writer’s block is quickly dispelled by a long stroll along the river or a drive to a nearby village.
Ultimately, Studio Faire gave me the opportunity to step away from the demands of my day-to-day life and wholly focus on editing my book. An epiphany or two struck me while I worked there – it must be all the good creative vibes seeping out of the walls from past residents.
‘Maybe this is something that should be available on prescription…’
Frances Ryan, 2019
Studio Faire is very much part of the town and thanks to the wonderful reputation Julia and Colin are developing I was able to stage a public performance in the heart of Nérac, being given the ok from the Mayor himself! Staging this performance and seeing the two professional dancers respond to my work is truly one of the most exciting moments in my career.
The environment Julia and Colin (along with Becca and Dougie) have created at Studio Faire is quite special. I felt completely at ease as soon as I arrived, and it quickly became my home away from home. I look forward to returning, not only for this artist retreat which is second to none but to catch up with all the new friends I’ve made in Nérac, and in particular Julia and Colin!
I would return to this oasis like a shot and would love to do so regularly, to get a shot of everything that this gorgeous part of France has to offer and to the relaxing surroundings that have been carefully created by Julia and Colin, so conducive to art-making and meaningful pause.
With it’s lush fields of sunflowers my week at Studio Faire has been a very solar stay. The people we met in Nérac were most warm and welcoming. There is so much to do and see in this magical area with it’s lively food and antiques markets that I hardly had enough time to paint. Beautiful landscapes are abundant, one does not need to go very far, beauty is just around the corner. I was amazed at what a vibrant community of people live in this corner of the world. The slower pace lifestyle was definitely a welcome pause from my busy city life.
I would absolutely recommend the Artist residence, the facilities are clean and vast. The sunny bedrooms with their beautiful old wallpapers will haunt your memories and leave you wondering if perhaps it all happened in a dream. I hope I get to visit this lovely old house someday again. Julia and Colin are just the best!
It has been beyond beautiful to work at Studio Faire this month. It’s exceeded all of my wildest dreams. Like, truly. Any artist knows the best work comes from a centered soul – and that’s how I feel in more ways than one. No better way to cap off the residency than a photo shoot with Colin Usher. I am eternally, celestially, sincerely grateful.
My residency at Studio Faire was a great experience in a great part of France. Julia and Colin have created a lovely atmosphere in which I found it possible to be creatively productive and also enjoy the different rhythm of life in that part of the world. I enjoyed the room my wife and I stayed in, the room I was working in, and the lovely garden in which I also worked. One week was not long enough to do as much as I would have liked, but in that week I did achieve quite a lot for which I’m grateful.
I’d certainly recommend Studio Faire and Julia and Colin as friendly, interested and supportive hosts.
‘Julia and Colin are two of the best people I’ve ever met and they have created an incredible space for transformation, growth, and creation.’
Britany Loar, 2018
My short but life changing two weeks was, in every possible way, a dive to permeate myself with care and gentle intentions. Julia and Colin are two of the best people I’ve ever met and they have created an incredible space for transformation, growth, and creation. Nérac is the most perfect town for such a place to reside and the house and studio have an energy about them that invites you to be a part of their stillness in order to hear and understand your own vision. There’s a freedom to listen to what your spirit needs, even if it was unconventional. I would wake up late and stay in the studio until deep into the night and next morning. Breaks from working involved drives out to vineyards or nearby towns, long walks in the beautiful park along the river and through Nérac, meals with Julia and Colin and their friends, or indulging in the incredible local cuisine solo.
Part of myself will forever remain in that studio where my heart and soul were filled with so much joy. I hope to return one day, if only for a moment, and gaze through those windows to reminisce of a time where my creativity soared and I discovered a little bit more of myself.
Jusqu’à la prochaine fois.
From start to finish, Studio Faire was welcoming, relaxing, inspiring and productive! Although short (one week), I still had time to discover the town, paint in the studio and meet some wonderful people. I absolutely loved my time in Nérac. Thanks to Colin & Julia.
‘What I found so wonderful about the residence was the relaxed and pressure-free atmosphere that created a safe space for exploration and trial-and-error learning.’
Lilli Huttula, 2018
I’m extremely happy and grateful that I had the chance of creating and spending time in the beautiful Nérac and Studio Faire. For a young artist like me, it is one of the best experiences of my life and I hope to come back at some point. I want to thank Colin and Julia for their kindness and hospitality and congratulate on building such a wonderful place and opportunity for artists.
Thank you so much for such a wonderful, calm & fun time – in a place from the past that provides presence and space for people to create.
I stayed one week at Julia’s and Colin’s residency, Studio Faire, in the beautiful town Nérac. It was a really good time for me.
Since it was quite a short time I didn’t start anything big but I worked on some smaller projects like rearranging songs and I also worked on my postcard project i.e. I write short pieces for some musicians and I send them the piece on a postcard. I call those pieces Circles of Sounds. The piece I started to write in Nérac and I didn’t quite finish was for an Icelandic oboe player.
Other things I did was a lot of walking, jogging and enjoying the company of Julia and Colin. I want to thank them for their hospitality and help.
What a joyous week it has been.
Time to decompress, to reflect & reenergize.
Finding the light from another sun, another sky, rethinking & reflecting at Studio Faire was exactly what I was needing. The quiet courtyard, the rustle of the leaves, the hooping hoop birds, Eurasian Jays, red squirrels and the resident canine friends: Dougie & Becca, brought other parts of life into the thinking space.
With Julia & Colin as consummate hosts, we were peaked through, sampled and glimpsed treasures of the region, which made us wish we could stay longer, and determined to revisit and try further exploration at another time.
A week was definitely too short for such a glorious opportunity.
It was an absolute privilege to spend a week-long residency at Studio Faire with fantastic hosts Julia and Colin.
There is so much of pleasurable interest to see and do (the food!) in the delightful Nérac, its surroundings and nearby villages. There are lovely walks to be had in and around the town, fascinating pieces of architecture both on the grand and domestic scale, as well as some, unsurprisingly, fabulous eateries. But you could easily spend a day or two just relaxing in the gardens enjoying its peaceful atmosphere and exploring the orchard and its overgrown corners – broken by an arduous two minute hike to the boulangerie across the road (did I mention the food?).
Julia and Colin throw so much of the same hard working energy into creating a welcoming atmosphere as they do into their on-going renovations that I can only see Studio Faire going from strength to strength and I look forward to witnessing its development. I thoroughly recommend and I am grateful I have had the opportunity of the experience.
If you’re looking for a downtime retreat – somewhere to make new work (be it big and messy or desk confined), hatch a new project, finish a current one, or just need quiet and thinking time to prepare for the next one – I heartedly recommend Studio Faire in Nérac in the South of France. You’ll be warmly greeted by Julia, Colin and their two soft and lovely labs Becca & Dougie.
Studio Faire is at the edge of the lovely little town of Nérac surrounded by fields of sunflowers and medieval villages. Great amenities, great people, great wine!
Huge thanks to Julia and Colin for their wonderful hospitality and their creative support!
Thanks for having us and for all your help and support! It’s been such fun and great to kick start the project too. The web pics and support with the website was invaluable! It’s been so great to get to know you both – you’re both absolute legends… Going to miss you all and the lovely dogs too! Thanks again.
Julia and Colin are working hard to provide a flexible, relaxed and inspirational environment for artists of all disciplines to spend time experimenting and thinking. The house has a fantastic atmosphere with space and beautiful surrounding gardens. Very proud to have spent time there. Well done both!
I stayed at Studio Faire for 4 weeks in May/June 2018 to create ‘collographic’ paintings and found the place, Julia and Colin delightful, relaxing and inspiring.
I was given a large bedroom and a huge studio space in which to work… [Colin and Julia] were very inclusive and inviting during my stay. I was lucky enough to get to know another ‘resident’ who was there from America, for the same period, to work on her choreography. We all had chats about different music, life etc. We shared a kitchen with little hassle and occasionally cooked meals for each other, such was the natural feel of the place…
… Both Julia and Colin were excellent at introducing me to people they knew when the opportunity arose and we had 40 people at our Meet the Artist session…
I loved being away from my usual environs with the purpose of enjoying myself in a creative frame of mind. Colin and Julia have made a fabulous residency space… I hope to return again and work, as well as catch up with the many delightful people I met there.
Karl Stern, 2018
All detail & imagery are © 2020 Studio Faire, Colin Usher & Julia Douglas