A recent Painting – BA (Hons) graduate had the opportunity to undertake a residency at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire from 20th January to the 10th February 2017. The residency was organised by the Royal Drawing School.

Ed Compson, who graduated in 2016, was given the freedom to take the three weeks to work on whatever he liked, with the request that he donate a small piece to the House’s collection at the end of his time there.

“There was no particular brief, which was really nice. Just turn up, and make some work in a fully equipped studio,” said Ed, “I brought along a Laser Cutter I bought on ebay in the summer. I wanted to properly work out the kinks of it and just have some time to play about.”

While at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), students have their own studio space. Since graduating, Ed had been struggling with producing work at home and juggling that with other work commitments. “Having three weeks was a joy. I’ve been painting out of my room, so to get back into a studio was good for my health and sanity,” he said.

“The experience was dreamy and a little absurd. You are basically working on a National Heritage Site – by the children’s playground – so sometimes you feel like an amusement. At one point, I was writing in my studio and Prince Charles was peering through the window so I waved at him and he gave me a regal nod. My Nan was very excited by that interaction.”

Ed was also able to explore the House and its gardens, which he did regularly when he was feeling stuck or wanted to take a break from his work. After working in lots of different media when studying at ECA, his time at the residency drew him back to painting.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome as I feel like it’s opened up a new area of research. The work was something I’ve been planning on doing for ages, so it was probably having time to realise this that kicked me into actually doing it,” said Ed, “It also just made me realise that if I think of something I want to paint, I should just do it and not let it linger.”

“The true highlight was having a large studio to myself with full tea-making facilities and a lovely, old radio. And the night sky was pretty incredible, it’s nice being out of the city.”