Tao Hua Tan International Artist Residency

A couple of months ago I have been invited to participate in an Artist in Residence program with ten other artists from around the world. The residence is named after the place Tao Hua Tan, where it is located. In a small village called Tao Hua Tan in the middle of Anhui Province in China.

So I started my trip to China without knowing exactly what to expect.
I did not know anybody and aside from the fact that I was on a plane for many hours, I was curious to see the artists I’m going to meet and what’s coming up in those three and a half weeks.



After a few hours of rest, all the participants of the residency came together for lunch the next day. Gordan Novak, the organizer of this program, guided us through the different studios that the “By The Peach Blossom Pool Holiday Hotel” provided us. 

Everyone has been impressed by the size of the studios and the beautiful location. In the first days we all set up our work places and spent the evenings together, laughing together and getting to know each other.
The program: To be inspired, to share with like-minded people, to make connections and to be creative at best.

There was much to discover in this enchanted place.

2DD7A2C1-C9C7-49FE-A0D3-404FE99DD538From left:
Iain Baxter&, Louise Baxter, Jeffrey Spalding, Viktor Fucek, Lucky, Sarah Anne Johnson, Gordan Novak, Marie Lannoo, Milan Trenc, Julia Benz, John Will, Jimmy Zheng, Fei Li

62BC6C86-99F4-4A3F-BE73-4C6408E40014B30C77B0-53C5-4F75-94BE-81BD8DA43110 7D56ABAC-317B-42A6-8C1D-D23824480BAC 9263C83D-93FC-4832-AD8B-0929D8624C70I decided to paint in the big dome. The thing is really huge and is usually used by Gordan Novak as a print studio. At material there was everything you could wish for. Despite jet lag, I was immediately ready to swing the brush and started painting on small and large canvases.

EF3822A1-1037-4F64-8F42-BC96F73ADFB3After I felt pretty empty and uninspired in Berlin, it just suddenly bursts out of me.
When you travel halfway around the world and arrive at a strange place with ninety percent humidity, the deepest feelings set free, I think.


In the next three weeks, we lived very close together, made small day trips and in the evening every single participant presented his work.


Mister Wei, the owner of the residence, showed us many presentations on Chinese calligraphy and we had the opportunity to try it out for ourselves. It is impressive what a high culture calligraphy brings with it.

Painting in Tao Hua Tan was wonderful for me. We did not have to worry about anything, there was food to eat three times a day, and the rest of the time I spent in exchange with the other artists and in the studio.


I spent a lot of time exchanging experiences and stories with the other artists. My brain has absorbed everything. I’m still talking about the many conversations today. I felt free again in my creative process, learned how important it is to have fun and enjoy it.

Three of my paintings are now part of a private collection in China. I can’t wait to come back to this beautiful country one day and feel very grateful to get the chance for this incredible experience.


A big thanks goes to Gordan Novak (owner of Novak Graphics Inc. printmaking studio and publisher from Admiral,,Saskatchewan, Canada) Jeffrey Spalding (artist, art critic, curator, Vancouver, Canada) and Liu Jian (artist, art consultant and curator from Toronto, Canada and Beijing China). A special one to Lucky who made our stay comfortable.

©2023 Julia Benz