An artist’s residency at Whare Kea Chalet, New Zealand

Whare Kea Chalet
An artist and his partner find inspiration in the remote beauty of New Zealand’s Southern Alps – and you can too.

There are no shortage of artist retreat programs situated in breathtakingly beautiful locations around the globe. But the Whare Kea Chalet, high in New Zealand’s Southern Alps and accessible only by helicopter, has to be the site of one of the most remote and dramatically situated artist residencies around.

An outpost of the Whare Kea Lodge, which is 20 minutes helicopter ride away on the edge of Lake Wanaka, the Chalet is open to Lodge guests in winter as a base for heli-skiing day trips and lunches. In summer, you can book overnight stays.

Whare Kea Chalet guest bedroomOne of the two double guest rooms at the Whare Kea Chalet.

Recently the winners of the inaugural Kenneth Myer Artist’s/Writer’s Retreat – Wanaka-artist Martin Hill and his partner photographer Philippa Jones – have called the Chalet home. Established by Martyn Myer AO of the Myer retail family, the annual retreat provides an artist or writer and their partner the opportunity to escape to the solitude of the mountains and gain space and time for reflection and creativity .

Whare Kea Chalet in winter

Whare Kea Chalet in summer.Whare Kea Chalet across the seasons.

The duo were awarded ten fully-catered days at the Chalet in September and will return for another ten days in December. Hill and Jones have used the residency to work on a body of work that focuses on the alpine environment and the natural cycles within it. Titled Watershed, the project encompasses new incarnations of Hill’s environmentally-focused ephemeral and permanent sculptures as well as works on paper, photographs and video works.

Artworks by Martin Hill, Circle of Circles 2009-2011, top2000 Circles 2000, below.

Whether you are an artist or not, the vistas and environments surrounding Whare Kea Chalet are fertile ground for inspiration. The chalet takes in sweeping views of Mt. Cook on the north east horizon to Mt. Aspiring on the west. When the artists’ return in December it will be to a changed landscape, with hiking trails once blanketed with snow now strewn with wildflowers. But a couple of things endure – the solitude and a sense that you are truly living on top of the world.

For more information visit www.wharekealodge.com or Philippa Jones blog.

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