Dovetail: Are you doing anything differently now than what you initially thought or expected you might do?
PADA: I would say that for the first six months we had our heads down, working flat out. We weren’t really able to step back. When we did, we realized that we needed to delegate more. It is so easy to ignore delegation and plough on, but as we have asked for help from others we have seen the residency and gallery grow even even more quickly.
Dovetail: You maintain a really collaborative approach, especially with Turps alternative painting school in London. How important is this collaboration and connectedness for you? How does it influence the program?
PADA: To collaborate with other similar projects was a key goal for us from the start, to share experience, networks and energy. Turps Banana in particular were an inspiration and their approach to peer led learning within the studio environment influenced how we built PADA. Connections locally are also important and we have been able to connect with local small businesses, makers and fabricators, and other artists. At PADA we have six long term studios for local artists. This has the dual aim of connecting visiting international artists to the local scene, but also exposing local artists to wider networks.
Dovetail: As practicing artists, how do you balance your own work with the activities of the residency? Have you learned anything over time that has helped to make this balance more sustainable?
PADA: Honestly we have struggled to make work in the first year. We have invested so much in PADA that it has occupied us day and night, really. But we always knew that the set up would be like this, and we’re happy to put our individual practices on the back burner for a bit. This year ahead we are hopefully in a position to learn from last year, to take on help and find a better balance where we can get time to make our own work as well. Looking back at the first year of residencies, I think we have both learned so much from the experience personally as well, that we are excited to take in to the studio.
Dovetail: You’ve gotten to know people who are involved in the historic industrial estate, as well as other businesses and initiatives in the region, and have encouraged artists in residence to make use of a wealth of local resources. How do these connections influence the activities at PADA?
PADA: The industrial park has such a rich history. Within the park, archives document all aspects of local history, industrial and political history as well as archives of the de Mello family and the ports of Lisbon. The park has two on-site historians who have excellent knowledge of the archives, and offer guidance for the artists. As well as this access to the archives, there is a lot of history still standing to explore. We have access to the abandoned CIN paint factory to create interventions and install artwork, and on the north side of the park there is a wealth of ruins, old machinery, and industrial detritus for artists to explore, salvage and use. This history informs so much of what we do at PADA and the site really rewards artists open to engaging with the history or the industrial aspects of production and craft.