In May and June 2012, the P.A.I.R. was rented out to the Mondriaan Fonds. Visual artists Katja Mater (Amsterdam) and Jeroen Doorenweerd (Tilburg) were invited to stay and work in the P.A.I.R. for two weeks each as part of a pilot project regarding a possible artist in residence programme in the area. The P.A.I.R. was placed in Hoenderloo, behind the many layers of fences around the estate Deelerwoud, a 700 ha. large private nature area, inaccessible to anyone but deer and wild boar.

To place the P.A.I.R. in an enclosed area with no local community involvement, no curious passers-by and with no local residents partaking in the projects seems to test the very grounds of the P.A.I.R.-concept, which is essentially based on interplays between the artist and the local community. In many ways, this was an experiment for the P.A.I.R. itself as well as for the Mondriaan Fonds and the artists in residence.

Katja Mater
Katja Mater was the first artist to inhabit the P.A.I.R. in these secret surroundings.
Mater works with photography - in her work she focuses on the medium of photography, the technical possibilities and limitations of an analogue camera. Rather than documenting reality through photographic images, Mater invites her viewers to look at the discipline of photography itself instead of looking through it.

Mater creates images by working with two different mediums at the same time; while making a drawing or a painting on paper, she photographically records several moments in the process on one and the same negative, thus building up a single image with the camera, which displays a visual summary of the drawing being made, layer by layer. In this way, she ends up with two different yet interwoven works, which are exhibited together as a diptych - a finished drawing and a recording of the many layers of the drawing, multiple moments of the process captured in a single photograph.

She mainly works within closed spaces in a studio or makes site-specific works in gallery rooms, so the stay in the P.A.I.R. in the middle of nature presented some complications related to her usual work processes. In her studio there is the possibility of changing the light settings and intensity, adding extra light if needed. But around the P.A.I.R. there was only natural light which could not be manipulated or modified, and sunlight filtering through the trees cast leafy shadows on the canvas. Moving out of an orderly and controlled working space into wild nature will often mean dealing with obstructions of the work process.

When working in nature, one has to adapt to nature's conditions. In some ways, overcoming an obstruction is the antithesis of starting from inspiration, so it may be a difficult place to create from. This method asks you to think about the process and the outcome and maybe it opens your eyes for new possibilities.

Jeroen Doorenweerd

Jeroen Dooerenweerd was finishing his National Firefighters’ Monument in Schaarsbergen, Arnhem, while staying in Hoenderloo. This commute between the work site in Schaarsbergen and the P.A.I.R. made the contrast between the busy outside world and the silence and seclusion of his temporary living quarters in the tree-encircled clearing even stronger.
Like an oversize bird watching tower, the P.A.I.R. allowed its residents to get an undisturbed overview over the grass fields and the edges of the woods. From there you could watch the animals and their comings and goings. The shifts change on the field - the deer leaving and the wild boars coming out. How long can you maintain visual contact with a deer? When do the wild boars come out to forage on the grass followed by the piglets with chocolate and cream stripes? This area is the natural habitat of the animals, it is the home of the deer and wild boar, birds, bees and butterflies. Animals eat, defecate, sleep and mate in the woods - we humans enter the area with our containers, our beds and our saw dust toilets. You can almost picture the deers and the boars nudging each other, pointing.

In his work, Doorenweerd investigates the border region between sculpture, design and architecture, creating spaces and staging experiences for the viewers. His works often play on the notion of who is watching whom, who is performing and who is in control of the interaction. Who is the actor and who is the audience? Doorenweerd also investigated these themes during his stay in the P.A.I.R., questioning whether his role was the watcher or the person being watched, humorously articulating his feelings of being the awkward intruder, however polite, in the home of the wildlife.

A residency programme in nature invites artists to pursue research away from their usual environment and to experiment with new ideas and inventions. Just being away from a well-equipped studio can provide a new perspective on a work process and lead to new discoveries.

The stillness and lack of distractions are both stimulating and confronting. In many ancient texts, prophets have achieved deep spiritual awareness while alone in nature; Buddha under the bodhi tree, Jesus in the desert, Muhammad in the cave of Hira. Retreating in solitude in nature is to carve out a place, a time and a strategy for examining your own thoughts, choices, desires. But in its core, the P.A.I.R. is not made for retreating in solitude.

Solar energy to generate electricity, a fresh water supply and all the amenities you need to stay comfortable - all this can be found inside the P.A.I.R. As such, it makes a brilliant accommodation for a residency. But the walls of the P.A.I.R. are made for hanging up cuttings from local newspapers and photo copies of pages from books borrowed from the local library. Notes from interviews with local residents. The P.A.I.R. is made for being placed in the midst of a community, to pique curiosity and to welcome the inhabitants of the area - to provide a frame for coffee drinking and conversations and exchanges of views. It is made to facilitate dialogue, knowledge transfer between artists and local residents, discussions and shared understanding. To reach a communal awareness rather than a solitary one.