Katherine-Mary Pichulik For VISI: The Residents of Villa Lena

Katherine-Mary Pichulik of PICHULIK is blogging exclusively for VISI as she embarks on a two-month artist residency in magical Italy.

WORDS Katherine-Mary Pichulik IMAGES courtesy of Adam Frezza and Terri ChiaoSoft BaroqueMark Borthwick and Sarah Burwash


I am sure that the idea of a group of artists/designers staying at a villa outside Florence conjures up all sorts of images of Dionysian hedonism and very little work. Although this may be true of some art residencies, it is not the case at our pink villa.

Yes, there have been topless dips, twerking classes and experimental humming sessions on balconies, but each artist/designer selected by the foundation is deeply committed and connected to their practice. What has amazed me most is seeing how each member of our group’s life as an artist or designer is not separate from their way of experiencing the world. Everyone engages with their medium and life with the same playfulness, as if making art and living are a continuum of experiments.

While each uses different materials and is concerned with different things, there are a few elements that unite them too:

  • The aesthetics of chance and capturing a fleeting moment
  • Play, and specifically a humorous interplay of materials and form
  • The ability to juxtapose function and material

I feel there is something quite poetic between these modalities and the function of an art residency, as we, in the course of two months, are “incubated,” sharing our artistry and play and documenting this special time.

Meet my fellow residents:

Adam Frezza and Terri Chiao

These two Brooklyn artists radiate joy. I have spent endless hours dancing and humming with them (and hugging them).

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With their “belief that the world of the imaginary is as ‘real’ as the natural world,” they create bright immersive environments of paper, paint, wood and plaster. Exuberant plant forms, shapely lumps, sculptural glyphs and odd huts co-mingle in parallel worlds of play and rigor. With the primitive optimism of a child and the meticulous focus of a horticulturist, they uncover the wondrous, the magical, and the humorous in the everyday.

(video via Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao on Vimeo)

Soft Baroque

London-based artists Saša Stucin and Nicholas Gardner are perhaps the most particular of the residents. With their very clear design sensibilities that include Sasa’s head-to-toe Miyake Pleats Please ensembles and Nic’s LED installed signature peak cap, they make for a lot of informative discussions over Spritz and swims in the pool.

Soft Baroque ‘focuses on creating work with conflicting functions and imagery, without abandoning beauty or consumer logic. They are keen to blur the boundaries between acceptable furniture typologies and conceptual representative objects.’

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Mark Borthwick

Mark is a magical person. The ephemeral nature of his imagery reverberates in his experimental music and bleeds into his meditative videos.

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Sarah Burwash

Sarah is pensive and sensitive. She has the best capsule wardrobe in the exact tones of her watercolours. We have bonded over rolling cigarettes and chasing fireflies late at night. Her work “crosses drawing, painting, animation, ceramics and installation”.

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(video via sarah burwash on Vimeo)

Click here if you missed Katherine-Mary’s first blog from Villa Lena or her second blog about travelling around the magical city of Florence.

Follow Katherine’s journey on Twitter (@Pichulik) on Instagram (@pichulikafrika) and on Facebook. You can also visit pichulik.com for more info.