Call for Submissions: 23 Days at Sea Traveling Artist Residency, Vancouver to Shanghai, Aug-Sept 2015

Image credit: Ross Kelly, 12 12 122 12 12 121, 2011. Inkjet print (detail). Courtesy of the Artist.


Twenty-Three Days at Sea

Travelling Artist Residency

Access Gallery invites submissions for its new Travelling Artist Residency Program, in partnership with Burrard Arts Foundation and with Contraste agence d’art, titled Twenty-Three Days at Sea. Unlike traditional residencies, which offer artists accommodation at a stationary site for a designated period with the aim of producing a new body of work, Twenty-Three Days at Sea is utterly unique: it will offer selected artists passage aboard a cargo ship sailing from Vancouver, Canada to Shanghai, China. Crossing the Pacific Ocean takes approximately twenty-three days, during which time the artist will be considered “in residence” aboard the vessel. The inaugural two residents will be sent to sea in August and September 2015.

The world’s first purpose-built container ship departed from North Vancouver in 1955; since this date, small handfuls of visual artists and writers across the globe are known to have boarded freighters to escape the banal, to generate ideas, and to consider the many implications of this mode of travel. Distinct from the myriad of residency opportunities now available to artists worldwide, Twenty-three Days at Sea is the first known program developed by an artist-run centre to support emergent and experimental artists in particular, offering them a profoundly generative time and space for the creation of provocative new ideas and work and, with the aim of critical dialogue and reflection, to present that work before audiences in our own port city.


In keeping with our organizations’ mandates, proposals will be considered from emergent visual artists* working in any and all media, and from those who have entered a new, experimental phase of their practice. Submissions will be adjudicated by committee and successful candidates will be notified in early March, 2015.

Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that consider issues resonant with sea travel and with the ubiquitous but, for most of us, largely invisible world of the global shipping industry. These may include, but are by no means limited to, matters of trans-Pacific connectivity, traffic and trade; maritime histories and culture; and, significantly, notions of time and space, since crossing a great expanse of water is experienced far differently on an ocean vessel than by more conventional air travel. The voyage may challenge and uproot artists’ ideas of their own practice, its comforts and its parameters, and will offer an invaluable space of quiet for focused research, imagination and creation in the unconventional studio space of the cargo ship cabin.

* Visual artists are defined as those who understand their practice to have a visual component, or to be in dialogue with the visual arts. Submissions will be welcomed from artists working in any media including (but not limited to) performance, sound, text, installation, sculpture, 2-D practices, social and research based-practices. Unfortunately we cannot consider applications from those who define themselves strictly as writers, composers, musicians or theatrical practitioners.


The objective of this Residency Program is to encourage the production of new artwork (which, depending upon the artists’practices, may take place aboard the vessel or in the months following); to facilitate Residency artists’ engagement with new networks in Asia, considering linkages between places on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean; and to introduce this new body of work to audiences in Vancouver through a subsequent exhibition. For the extent of the residency voyage, artists will also be requested to keep a daily “log.” Subsequently published by Access, these log books, which may or may not comprise the new work produced, will accumulate as an ongoing collection of book works, chronicling diverse responses to a shared experience of being at sea.


  • The Residency will cover the cost of travel aboard the freighter (single cabin and all meals), accommodations for four days in China, and return airfare back to Vancouver.
  • Residency artists are expected to fund their own travel to and from Vancouver (the point of departure)
  • Residency artists must prove their own purchase of international travel insurance and to secure all necessary travel documents.
  • To maximize the artists’ experience upon arrival in Asia, our partner Contraste agence d’art will use its formidable resources in Asia to offer Residency artists an orientation to the art communities of Shanghai upon their arrival.  * Artists are free to travel at their own cost within Asia following disembarkation, provided details are arranged in advance for the purpose of booking return airfare from Shanghai.


  • Artists must understand that there is no internet on board. Email is reserved only for ship’s business.
  • Residency artists must produce medical certificates proving good health. There are generally no doctors on board. The vessel has a well-stocked ship’s dispensary and a treatment room. The Captain and officers have the necessary skills to give first aid and are also able to provide further treatment
  • Since this is a working ship (with no elevators), there are unfortunately no facilities for individuals requiring wheelchairs, walking sticks or crutches, etc.
  • All meals are taken in the officer’s mess
  • Residency Artists must in all cases respect and in no way interfere with the ship’s business while aboard the vessel.

Residency Artists are expected to arrive in Vancouver prepared to work independently on his/her work for the duration of the residency in whatever capacity that is possible or to use the voyage to gather research in order to produce the new work independently following the close of the residency.

Sea voyages can be unpredictable and the Artist must prepare for and manage any unexpected obstacles resulting from his/her time at sea (ie. Seasickness). Access Gallery, Burrard Arts Foundation and Contraste agence d’art cannot be held responsible for delays in the production of work due to these obstacles. The Artist assumes responsibility for all costs of the research, production and shipment of any work produced while at sea. 

In keeping with our organizations’ mandates, this residency invites emergent artists, or artists entering an experimental phase of their practice, to submit proposals. We accept work in all forms of media, time based, process, research based, exhibition focus, social practice etc.

Access will accept ELECTRONIC submissions only in the following format:
+ one page cv
+ artist statement (maximum 250 words)
+ a residency proposal (maximum 500 words) accompanied by a maximum of 5 images (if applicable)
+ maximum 10 images of relevant previous work
+ please format your proposal into a single pdf (under 20 mb)


DEADLINE: Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Please title your email subject line: 23 Days at Sea

Please forward all questions to:

We thank you for all artists for their submissions, however only those who have been shortlisted will be contacted.



Want more like this? Subscribe to the Modern-Day Nomads newsletterjust $15 a yearto receive weekly updates of all the best new arts and literary residencies, competitions and other creative travel opportunities.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.