Villa Lena was a highlight of my summer- if not my year- I personally had not only a wonderful time and met some creative and dear people, but I challenged my creative output and goals. Having the spacious artists studios to work in gave me a daily discipline and the calm space to focus on my work.
— Artist in residence, 2018

Villa Lena Foundation is a not for profit organisation dedicated to supporting international contemporary artists working in art, music, film, literature, fashion and other creative disciplines and fostering opportunities for multi-disciplinary dialogue. The element of collaboration and exchange is one of the founding principles of the Foundation, with the hope that by bringing together different areas of practice, we will generate new creative outlooks, unparalleled research and exciting new impulses. 

The artist residency co-exists on the Villa Lena Estate with the Villa Lena hotel, restaurant and agricultural domain. The resident artists become part of the community life of the place and are welcomed to participate in the agricultural activities such as the grape harvest for wine, olive harvest for oil, truffle hunting in the autumn and foraging in the woods for wild delicacies. The restaurant on site operates farm to table concept, with fresh ingredients grown in one of the Villa Lena vegetable gardens or sourced from local producers. The restaurant also runs a chef in residency program with a rotation of international chefs whose cooking principles align with the organic and sustainable concepts of Villa Lena.

The vibe at Villa Lena is decidedly social but of the work-hard, play-hard variety. It’s a truly international setting, and there was so much knowledge and inspiration to be found among the staff and other residents – visual artists, musicians, chefs, designers, writers – who all brought different ideas and cultures to the (sometimes literal) table.
— Artist in residence, 2018
 
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THE RESIDENCY

Villa Lena Foundation operates a residency program that runs from April to October each year in Tuscany, Italy. Located in the wild Tuscan countryside, but only an hour away from the beautiful and culturally dense cities of Florence and Pisa, the Villa Lena Estate sits within five hundred hectares of woodland, rugged hills, olive groves and vineyards.  The Foundation offers artists 6 week residencies with onsite accommodation, studio space and half-board meals (breakfast and dinner) in the hotel restaurant. Studio spaces range in size depending on residents’ needs, with several being as large as one hundred and twenty square metres. Residents are invited to live in the nineteenth century villa, which is the heart of the property, a magnificent building of period charm. A program of regular talks, workshops and other events are run by the Foundation in collaboration with the residents to promote interaction and exchange of ideas both among the residents and with the wider community. Further facilities include free wifi throughout the villa, well equipped wood and ceramic workshops and a screening/projection room. There is a daily charge of 20 euros per person, per day which goes a small way to covering some of the costs of running the residency programme.   

-The application and selection process-

Application to the Villa Lena Foundation Artist Residency program is via the online application form, which requests examples of work and CV information, as well inviting applicants to detail what they hope to achieve while at Villa Lena if successful.  Promising applicants are interviewed by the foundation following which a shortlist is compiled. The shortlist is circulated to the Foundation’s Advisory Board for feedback before the residency places are offered to successful artists in writing in November.  Our Advisory Board are: 

Charlie Porter, journalist
RZA, music producer and rapper
Caroline Bourgeois, curator
Barbara Casasola, fashion designer
Rafael de Cárdenas, architect

 -Leaving a trace-

Artists are all requested to donate a work to the Villa Lena Foundation at the end of their residency.  In the case of visual artists this is most tangible, but in every artist’s case it is a unique conversation. Donated artworks hang throughout the property, giving the historical spaces a visual memory of past residents’ work and their experience of the place.  The resulting art collection also forms a valuable asset that can be sold over time to make space for new artworks and to help raise funds for the continuation of the residency program.

[Villa Lena] was beautiful and transformative. I feel like I built a new family in my time there, all of whom I miss very much. In describing my experience to others I’ve found it hard to articulate the special balance and flow that came to be in that environment, but I’ll credit Villa Lena for being aware of whatever that is, and for nurturing it in a deliberate, special way.
— Artist in residence, 2018
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THE HOTEL

Villa Lena is a unique hotel concept located in the heart of Tuscany, open since Summer 2013. Villa Lena offers a countryside holiday retreat with a focus on creative collaboration and cultural exchange. Located in the province of Pisa near the town of Palaia, the hotel is situated within a short driving distance to the historical centres of Siena, Florence and San Gimignano, renowned designated World Heritage Sites.

The Villa Lena Estate spreads over 500 hectares of land amidst untouched forests, home to diverse wildlife and boasting a landscape of rolling hills with sweeping views of vineyards and olive groves. At the heart of the estate is a 19th century neo renaissance villa surrounded by the original hunting lodges.

For more information on Villa Lena hotel, please visit www.villa-lena.it