Dumfries House Residencies for Online Students

July 25, 2023

Alumni of the Online Drawing Development Year (ODDY) are able to apply to our Dumfries House residency programme. Here three students tell us about their experience of the ODDY and their time in Scotland on residency...

Olive Haigh, Online Drawing Development Year 2022

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Olive is an artist and musician living in Bristol, she works as assistant curator at the Royal West of England Academy. She draws in different mediums, usually in quite a small scale, and looks at themes of magic and folklore, drawing inspiration from life, memory, dreams and fantasy. 

Why did you apply for the ODDY and what were you hoping to gain from the course? 

I had heard a lot of good things about the teaching at the Royal Drawing School and was in love with some of the works by alumni I had seen. I wasn't in a position to move to London and needed a course which I could adapt around my job and so the ODDY worked really well for this. 

I absolutely loved Drawing: Immersive Narratives with Rebecca Harper and Melissa Kime. Both Melissa and Rebecca have a wealth of knowledge about all sorts of stories, folklore and amazing artists, and they put a lot of work into the contextual presentations at the start of each lesson and I learned a lot and was very encouraged. I did enjoy every single course, and so many amazing tutors, there are too many others to name. 

What are the benefits of studying online? 

Creating art in an online space offers a totally different experience to studying in a studio with people around you. It caused my imagination to go in a lot of unexpected directions as I could draw on a personal references which were all around me, so that was interesting. There is also the practical side of creating work online - I didn't need to think about quitting my job or moving to another city because I could choose a mixture of evening and daytime courses to fit around my work schedule. 

Studio 3_Olive Haigh

Why did you apply to the Dumfries House residency? 

Primarily to spend a big chunk of time in rural Scotland to focus on my practise. My day job is wonderful and really interesting but I usually don't get much time to focus on my own work, so the idea of doing this residency was an exciting and important opportunity for me. 

When you are still developing your practice, it helps to spend time dedicating yourself to it, and after graduating and launching yourself into life it is hard to find time to do this. Residencies give you an opportunity to immerse yourself in your practise, and remind you of why you studied and spent so much time on your craft. It's also great for making connections, the other artists on the residency were so talented and I was grateful to have the chance to peek into their studios and find out about what they were up too 

Self Portrait_Olive Haigh

What impact did your time at Dumfries House have on your practice? 

One major thing that happened was that I made a doll to draw from; I made her head from clay and crocheted her an outfit from wool scraps and her body is made from twigs. I think I partly did this because of spending a lot of time in solitude in the forests and field around Dumfries house, and I felt a pull back to childhood and based the doll on an imaginary friend (although she turned into something else.) This lead to me starting to pose her in different places around the grounds and draw and paint from her. Drawing from this doll and creating other dolls is now a key element to my practise. I also made a self portrait which I entered into Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, which I then went on (airing in October) and without this residency I would not have created a portrait which lead to that! 

Alice Carr, Online Drawing Development Year 2022

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Alice is a British/Australian artist who is based on the UK canals. Working across mediums with paint, drawing and printmaking, her work explores the boundaries between human and animal, and the historical connections we have with our surroundings.  

Why did you apply for the ODDY?

I was at a stage where I wanted to develop my practice further than I could on my own. I had really enjoyed the in-person classes and the Royal Drawing School a few years ago in person, and thought that an intensive year of classes here would really help me to push my practice further, and allow me to put art at the centre of my life. I was hoping to gain from the course the tools to become a self-sufficient artist, as well as build a community of artists around me. 

I took the Observation and Imagination course with Melissa Kime and David Gardner. The tutors were both really great at pushing me out of my comfort zone, and showing me techniques to use observational drawing as a springboard for more imaginative work. This class also helped build my confidence as an artist - it can be quite nerve wracking uploading your images for the whole class to see, especially when you think those works haven’t been successful, but the atmosphere of the class meant I was more focussed on experimenting with ideas rather than getting hung up on how “good” the work I was making was. 

Through the Composition and Colour course, I was introduced to a wealth of artists, both from the past and contemporary. Looking at art of the past has become a really important part of my practice, and I often go back to the notes I made in this class. 


Why did you apply to the Dumfries House residency 

The residency at Dumfries House is such a fantastic opportunity, in a beautiful landscape. I’m drawn to the natural world and to historical landscapes, and knew that the residency  would be very inspiring. Having access to both the house itself as well as the grounds was something that appealed to me too.  In addition, my work often uses the Scottish landscape as a backdrop to explore the nostalgia of my childhood, so I really felt that a residency at Dumfries would be the ideal time to develop these ideas further. 


Having the time and space to focus on your artistic practice and ideas is invaluable - there’s a lot of admin and stress that surrounds being a working artist and it’s sometimes easy to get overwhelmed by that. Having the time to dedicate to just making art is so important, and a residency is the best way to put art at the forefront.  Being in a new environment is also really important to developing ideas and creating work - new and beautiful surroundings are very inspiring.   

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I came out of the residency with a series of works and a head full of ideas. There was so much to respond to at the residency, and I often surprised myself with what I came back to drawing again and again - in a way I gained a better understanding of myself as an artist.  I also don’t have my own studio at home, and Dumfries was the first time that I’d ever had my own studio space - I saw how important it is to have a space dedicated to making art and I’m now hoping to find a studio of my own to continue this. Sharing a space with other artists meant that there was also a sense of community at the residency - I gained a lot from just talking about art with other people, and talking about my ideas. Before doing the Online Drawing Development Year I had had no formal arts education and sometimes struggled to think of myself as a “real artist”, but doing the residency really gave me a lot of confidence as an artist. 

What are your plans for the future? 

In the immediate future, I’m planning on continuing to work on the ideas that came out of the residency into a series of works. In the long term, I’m going to be making work and applying for exhibitions, and finding myself a studio. I have a few exhibitions coming up that will feature the work I made during the residency. 

Florence Klein, Online Drawing Development Year 2022


Florence is a French artist, who originally trained as an art historian. She is currently completing an MFA at City & Guilds Art School. Drawing is the basis of her art practice and she is inspired by preexisting narratives found in art, poetry and myths where a natural decor becomes a theatre for an epic adventure, reflecting a desire to explore the complexities of the human experience.

Why did you apply for the ODDY?

Before applying to the ODDY, I had already done various classes at the Drawing School but still felt I needed to develop my visual language. I certainly wanted to sharpen my drawing skills but what motivated me was to experience various visual strategies that could help me dive into my own way of seeing and translating it onto paper.


The courses that I found most enriching for my development involved themes around mythology, internal landscape and narratives. Mythology in Art: Drawing Narratives, Mapping: Drawing Internal Landscapes and Drawing a Story are courses I did several times. With a tight time frame, I had to speed up my drawing and rely on my intuition and instinctive responses, which I found could lead to unexpected new directions. These courses really taught me how to create visual research through collected imagery and texts.

I found that having the classes online, whilst being in my own studio, was very helpful. During a class, I was able to put in practice ideas that were germinating in the studio, and vice versa. It was also very stimulating to be connected to a community of artists, often from around the world.


Why did you apply to the Dumfries House residency?

I had never done a residency before going to Dumfries House and the idea of having two weeks entirely dedicated to my practice felt like going to paradise - which it was!

When doing a residency, you are left to your own means and in a new environment so it seems like a great time to test out your own creative strategies and collect new ideas. It can really refresh and vivify your creativity.


Find out more about the Online Drawing Development Year or book an Open Day