You Can Be My Wingman

a retreat for artists, by artists

Iceman : You can be my wingman any time.

Maverick : Bullshit. You can be mine.

Top Gun (1986)

You Can Be My Wingman is a week-long, hosted retreat for artists. Produced by Action Hero, supported by Dartington Trust, and with mentoring from Canadian artist Maiko Yamamoto, You Can Be My Wingman brings together mid-career performance makers to explore new collaborative processes in a supported, friendly and restful environment.

The retreat is aimed at facilitating new collaborations between artists who may know each others’ work and practice, but who have never worked together before. It’s for artists who have always wanted to work together but have never found the time.

Artists will spend a week exploring an area of mutual interest; a point of crossover in their respective practices, a desire to work together on a shared process, or even just a conversation they both want to have. The focus of the retreat is simply to explore new territories in a self-led and non-pressurized way, with no prescribed outcome. These shared explorations can serve several functions: to help artists to reflect back on their own practice by taking time to work slightly outside it, to find new impetus or new inspiration, to exercise their ‘art muscle’, to get into the nitty gritty of a new area of enquiry with a new collaborator, or simply just to nourish their practice by giving it a ‘spa week’.

Action Hero hope, by running this retreat, to provide a much needed sanctuary for mid-career artists to explore and experiment together without the pressure to produce an outcome or to show something publicly. It’s also an ‘artist-only’ space, with no sense of work or ideas being auditioned for potential future opportunities. These kinds of spaces are rare and, in our experience, completely invaluable for developing and nourishing an artistic practice.

In our first year running the retreat, we were delighted to receive applications from almost 60 artists. The artist collaborations  that joined us in Feb 2020 were:

Sue MacLaine and Hannah Ringham

Dan Canham and Caroline Williams

Vera Chok and Tanuja Amarasuriya

Liz Crow and Raquel Meseguer

Chloé Déchery and Karen Christopher

In 2021 we reconfigured the residency as Ways To Begin Again. A residency for artists who had been unable to meet during the past year, due to Covid-19.

Action Hero offered a week of space (plus accommodation, food, travel, video provocations from artists we know and love and a small stipend) to artists who’re in need of some IRL collaborative time as a way to restart their collaborative practice.

The Ways To Begin Again collaborations were:

Yasmin Begum and Saqib Dehkmush

Gwen Thompson and Gwen Hales