“I can go for the first few days avoiding people, but by the end of the week, always, I have an evening where I’m just itching to see people, and I end up checking the kitchen every fifteen minutes to see who’s there. Because I do get lonely when I work that hard, and it’s so nice to know that somebody’s going to turn up, and it’s generally somebody super interesting, who you can have a chat and a cup of tea with.”
Have you ever wanted to get away from it all—but not, you know, too far away? Would the idea of living communally with like-minded people appeal to you, if you knew you could go into your own room and shut the door and everyone would leave you alone? That comfortable balance of solitude and company is something many of us look for. It’s particularly important to artists and writers, most of whom need time alone to work, but draw inspiration and encouragement from talking to each other. For this episode, Megaphonic’s Chris Piuma and I took the ferry out to the Toronto Islands to visit Artscape Gibraltar Point, an artists’ residence designed to create an environment where it’s possible to find that balance. We talked to staffer Andrew Lochhead and several of the residents, and later I sat down for a longer chat with Anna Synenko and Julia Tausch, two writers who have returned to AGP many times over the years. The consensus, more or less: AGP is a great place to be alone—to hunker down and work, commune with nature, or even just sit with your loneliness for awhile. And when you start to crave company, there’s always the kitchen.
Julia Tausch is a writer living in Toronto. She wrote the novel Another Book About Another Broken Heart and has published fiction and essays in publications such as Hobart, CBC Arts, The Hairpin, and Bon Appetit. She is currently working on a memoir that investigates abledness.
After a long career in publishing, Anna Synenko now creates projects for film and television exclusively, producing original scripts in full feature, comedy, documentary, and factual. She currently has created two documentary series that are signed to a London UK television production company, is optioned to write a big budget historical film with another UK company, and her adaptation of Amanda Lear’s My Life with Dali is currently with a European producer based in Amsterdam and LA. She works closely with filmmakers to teach script writing or doctor existing scripts. Self-taught, she’s spent approximately 5 years nomadically moving around, writing scripts, developing shows, and honing her craft to make stories honest in the revealing, daring in the execution, and provocative in the telling.
A number of people contributed to making this episode happen: Daniel Rotsztain put me in touch with Anna, Julia and Luisa. Andrew Lochhead provided all the information I needed, plus a guided tour and introductions. Chris Piuma did the onsite recording, had valuable input into pruning and shaping the episode, and went above and beyond with the editing. And, of course, thanks again to all the Artscape Gibraltar Point folks who talked to us: Alicia, Eunice, Barbara, Rae, Luisa, Marina, Julia, and Anna.