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Villa Lena Art Foundation announces over 50 artists-in-residence for 2018
Maarten De Ceulaer, Suitcases serie. Photo: Nico Neefs.

PISA.- Villa Lena, the popular artist retreat in rural Tuscany, has announced 56 new artists-in-residence for its 2018 season. The not-for-profit art foundation is dedicated to supporting artists and creatives from a range of disciplines, who travel from across the world to join the unique creative community from April to October each year.

Set in 500 hectares of woodland, hills, olive groves and vineyards, Villa Lena offers studios and quiet working spaces to artists from a range of backgrounds, including writers, architects, dancers, musicians, filmmakers and visual artists.

The confirmed artists for 2018 will include among many others: Israeli actress and model Yanni Hen; British photographer Cyrus Mahboubian; award-winning American writer Julie Iromuanya; Russian painter Vladimir Logutov; American musician and rapper Lewis Hakeem; British artist Florence Peake; Indian writer Tulsi Badrinath; American singer Hayley Coupon; Cuban sculptor Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova; award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker Jenni Monet; Canadian filmmaker Rodney Evans; and Canadian singer and songwriter Imaad Wasif.

Villa Lena aims to bring together a unique mix of multi-disciplinary artists, who are all at various stages in their careers, to encourage creative collaboration, dialogue and new ideas. Set up as a hotel alongside the artist residency scheme, Villa Lena encourages guests to join in with creative activities. Artists are invited to contribute to an eclectic programme of performances, talks, workshops throughout the season. This year, contributors include renowned British illustrator Sue Dray, designer and art director Sara Ricciardi, Berlin-based designer Nadine Goepfert, and ceramicists Bert Walter and Jennifer Bernstein.

Lena Evstafieva, founder of Villa Lena, said: “The element of collaboration and exchange is one of the founding principles of the art foundation, with the hope that by bringing together different areas of practice, we will generate new creative outlooks, unparalleled research and exciting new impulses.

“The growing popularity of the artist residency makes this one of the largest schemes of its kind in the world and I am delighted that we will have such a dynamic group of artists staying with us over the course of the year.”

Artists’ placements run for one or two months, giving them enough time to complete their chosen project. The artists are provided with accommodation in the nineteenth century villa and a substantial studio space of their own to work from. At the end of their stay, artists are asked to donate a piece of work to Villa Lena, which are displayed across the Villa Lena Estate and will eventually be sold to help raise funds for the continuation of the residency programme.

The artist residency co-exists on the Villa Lena Estate with the guest accommodation, farm-to-table restaurant and agricultural domains. The resident artists become part of the community life and are welcomed to participate in the agricultural activities such as the grape harvest for wine, olive harvest for oil, truffle hunting in the autumn and foraging in the woods for wild delicacies.

The restaurant on site operates farm-to-table concept, with fresh ingredients grown in one of the Villa Lena kitchen gardens or sourced from local producers. The restaurant also runs a chef-in-residence program with a rotation of international chefs whose cooking principles align with the organic and sustainable concepts of Villa Lena.

Villa Lena is in the process of becoming a completely ecological estate. It is dedicated to growing more organic produce which is used in the farm-to-table restaurant, it has installed solar panels and heat pumps to help save on energy, and all staff are educated on the importance of recycling and preserving water.

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