water-image-squareOnce Upon Water art residency
International Call
Pico island, Azores

Facilitator: Teresa Ascencao

Program Dates:  June 20 – 30, 2017
Submission Deadline: September 30, 2016


Once Upon Water (The Water Residency) is a 10-day art residency on Pico island, Azores, to create artworks about the material and magical notions of water. Water is in constant flow and yet may present itself as still ~ a mirror that mesmerizes. In this state its reflective surface invites gazing at our physical selves, but also beyond our bodies to contemplate both our inner experiences and relationships with the outer world. Water gushes from deep below earth’s crevices, falls from its elevations and hovers in misty formations. It traverses time, shape-shifts as it slides through various spaces, and is one of earth’s greatest Sculptors. At once, water pours out of taps in developed countries as a banal occurrence, while women in developing countries trek miles to fetch it clean. Alarmingly, earth is under threat of loosing all its sea ice this century, while future wars are predicted to be fought over water rather than oil. Yet, the world’s greatest religions say water holds the power to purify and renew. Once Upon Water welcomes people in all walks of life into a creative journey of criticality thinking and self-discovery in relation to water. Indigenous, people with disabilities, people of colour and diverse gender identifications are encouraged to apply. Not all residency locations are wheel chair accessible. Please inquire about accessibility.

During Once Upon Water, residents work individually or collaboratively to create artworks that explore tangible and intangible concepts of water through media of their choice, such as photography, video, installation, drawing, painting, performance art, dance, sound art, media art, etc. Artists will have opportunities to socialize and integrate with people from Pico island in Madalena town and through Azores Fringe Festival events. This programmed residency offers facilitation by multimedia artist Teresa Ascencao, a guided ocean floor tour in the OceanEye glass bottom boat, a guest artist “water workshop” with Choreographer and Dancer Ana Sofia Sousa, a special guest presentation on the health of water, and plenty of studio time. Critiques of residents’ works occur on a regular basis, individually with the Facilitator and through facilitated group discussions. Artists are given full access to dedicated shared studio spaces in downtown Madalena at Centro de Formação Artística (Artistic Development Centre). Alternately, artists may arrange to work in various locations around the town’s parks and streets. There will be a closing event, whereby artists present their creative explorations to the public.


Pico Island is one of the nine Portuguese islands named “Azores”, an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Its history is founded on whale hunting and winery traditions. Today, the island is a base for scientific observation of whales, dolphins, and sea mammals. Pico offers breathtaking hikes, whale and dolphin watching trips, swimming and snorkelling. Its black lava rock, lake-filled cones and unique vegetation surround the now dormant ancient volcano of Topo ~ the highest point in all the Azores islands (and continental Portugal). Scattered throughout the island’s natural beauty are bustling villages and occasional religious festivals. Baía da Barca, the hotel for the residency, promotes sustainable tourism through its use of rainwater tanks, solar panels, and swimming pool with water extracted directly from the sea. Pico’s climate is classified as cool summer mediterranean.


Teresa Ascencao is a multimedia artist with special interest in body language, socially inscribed objects, spaces and costumes, and inner and outer corporeal experiences. She is currently collaborating on Water Portals, an interactive work of digitally rendered water ripples triggered by dancers bodies, and recently captured this photo of a Businessman’s Rebirth in a lake. As an environmentalist, her most recent work has been to protect Toronto’s waterfront through the organization she founded, Citizens for a Healthy Toronto Waterfront. Ascencao graduated with distinction from the University of Toronto’s Honours Fine Art Studio program, and received her MFA from OCAD University specializing in Media Art. Her award-winning work has been exhibited in Canada and internationally. Ascencao is the Art Director of Arts Unfold, and Facilitator of two other residencies, Luminous Bodies and Naked State. Ascencao’s artworks can be viewed at Both a Canadian and Portuguese citizen (of Azorean parents), she frequently visits the Azores and speaks Portuguese. Ascencao lives and works in Toronto and teaches at OCADU.

MiratecArts, assistant partner of Once Upon Water, encourages residency artists to take advantage and be a part of the international arts festival, Azores Fringe, taking place on Pico island, June 2017. 850+ artists, from 38 countries, have already participated in the four editions of the Azores Fringe, the international arts festival in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Headquartered in the village of Madalena, Pico island, the highest mountain in Mid-Atlantic Ridge, local artists from all 9 islands are joined by international artists to showcase and exhibit their works, develop and create synergies, while enjoying life in paradise – where all seasons weather can happen in one day. Submit a proposal to participate in the Azores Fringe Festival, 2017! See the invitation here and visit their official submission page at


Residency Details: Once Upon Water art residency will host approximately 20 professional artists. The residency fee per artist (in Canadian dollars, including taxes) starts at $800 and includes full use of amenities, large shared studios in downtown Madalena, programming, facilitation, closing event. Artists are responsible for their travel to Pico and for their own food.

This year’s jury for Once Upon Water consists of Teresa Ascencao (Multimedia Artist, Facilitator of Once Upon Water and Art Director of Arts Unfold), Terry Costa (Producer, Director, Live Event Manger and Director of Azores Fringe Festival), and Raquel Vilhena (Director and Curator at Walnut Contemporary).

Once Upon Water is produced by Arts Unfold, which works with partnering communities to subsidize its projects. Once Upon Water is a subsidized residency with fees having been reduced by 50% for residency artists. Artists are encouraged to apply for further financial support through their federal, provincial and municipal arts councils, and other sources such as the ones listed here by international region.


Submit your application to Once Upon Water via email to Teresa Ascencao at as follows: write “Once Upon Water / First_&_Last_name” in the subject line; include a short proposal describing the work you intend to explore during the residency; a short statement describing your practice and past work, a short bio; 5 jpeg images (each under 1MB) that best represent the work you propose, a link to your website (or link to your work on the web); and your CV.

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