Издание 2021

“Untamed Ideas – lessons learned” – Open call 2021 of The Old School Art Residency – Bulgaria, The Balkans

The Old School Residency is the first international artist residency program in Bulgaria. It’s been eleven years now since we started supporting artists from all over the world in their search for inspiration and new ideas by offering them the magic of the parallel artistic reality that we’ve created. Our residency program is not just an escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city, industrialization and consumer society but it also serves a purpose as a retreat for artists with whom we share our ideas, friendship and wholeheartedness. We believe that in doing so we help with the creation of a new generation of people/artists who have the bravery and courage to challenge and change themselves. In our eyes art is not just a mean for creating that which is esthetically pleasing but also a tool capable of changing the world. By staying with us in Gorna Lipnitsa and creating your art here, you will have the chance to become the spark of change for the people here and to leave a lasting trace in their lives. It might even happen so that the place enchants you and impacts you in an unexpected way. How exactly… it’s for you to find out.

We offer a place for creative work and relax. A locus for individual artists or a small group of artists – between 2 and 4 people – to ruminate, reflect and rejuvenate. Gorna Lipnitsa (www.gornalipnitsa.com/en/history), is a rural community, where the present and the past complement and contrast one another. Here, the spirit of Socialism is still alive, remnants of which can be found throughout the streets of the village. Upon visiting us, you will be enveloped by the bucolic scenery, crisp, clean air, silence, economical and fresh food, amiable community, and opportunity for true inspiration.

The Old school residency is a multidisciplinary residency program, we accept artists who create in the field of the visual arts (painting and drawing, wall painting, photography, installations, video, filmmaking, land art, etc.) and performance arts (music, dance, theatre).

Theme of the residency

For 2021 the theme of our residency is going to be “Untamed ideaslessons learned”*. For its choice we were influenced by what is happening in modern society and how it creates people and thoughts all alike. As it often happens nowadays, instead of thoughts and visions, people share photos and impressions of their food, they present the places that they have visited as if they were trophies and show proof of their love mainly through social media. For us this is not just a sign of a lack of imagination but also an indication of the disappearance of the untamed spirit. Materialism consumes freedom. Even rebellion is subdued as it is part of the system. Tameness leads to the end – of ideas, desires, impulses and art. With this theme, we give artists the chance to show us how, in their eyes, the world could and should exist. We are looking for your untamed ideas as to how we could shape it that way together.

* The theme Untamed Ideas and the text above were prepared at the end of 2019 for the art residency of 2020. Naturally, at that time, we had no idea that our next edition of the residency was not going to take place due to the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic. Despite that, we are convinced that the theme was exactly right for its time and that it even, given the events that followed, carries some prophetic power in it. The pandemic and everything that came after it created the environment needed for the birth of the untamed person worldwide or at least directed the thoughts of many in that direction. We have realized and learned a lot from this past year and that is why we embrace the same theme, letting everyone interpret it accordingly to what they have learned from these unprecedented times.

The Residency studios

The Old School art residency was found in 2010 in the village of Gorna Lipnitsa, Bulgaria. The name of the residency derives from the place where the studios are located – a spacious and beautiful school building, created more than a hundred years ago.  The classrooms of the already closed down school have been rearranged into rooms where the artists can work. The residency provides workspace for the participating artists – 6 indoor workshops including a photo studio and open air spaces – the yard of the school, movie and concert salon.

The residency has its own “Room of secrets” in which different objects are being kept, such as teaching materials collected during the long history of the school and objects from Bulgaria’s socialist past, like posters, dipositives, vinyl, literature, diaries, paintings, etc. The visiting artists have the freedom to use whatever they find in this particular room for their works.

The school is open 24/7 for the artists.

From 2010 to 2021, the residency has accepted more than 130 participants from more than 30 countries and the number of applications is over 750.

Up until this moment we have staged 35 exhibitions and art events, which present the works of the artists who take part in the residency.


The artists will be accommodated in guesthouses in the village. Each artist will have his own room, a common space to hang out with the other artists, a shared bathroom and kitchen. The guest houses have their own separate yard which can also be used for work and leisure. Nearby the houses are located beautiful fields and walking trails, spaces to practice sports and suitable spots to observe the evening starry sky.

For the visiting artists we organize welcome and closing dinners. We also provide the artists with the opportunity to taste clean and healthy food originating from the village: fruits and vegetables from our garden, homemade jam, fresh eggs hatched by free-range chickens, dried herbs to make tea with, traditional Bulgarian alcoholic drinks as well as homemade honey.

Products can be purchased from two shops in the village as well as from the nearest town, 10 km away from Gorna Lipnitsa.

Each artist has a bicycle at their disposal as a mean to travel around the village.

We provide:

Accommodation – single rooms in local guesthouses.

Access to art studios in the building of the school, which are comfortable for painting, performances, dance performances and other arts.

Guided visit to the main sights of the village – community center, church, chapel, agricultural museum, etc. These locations can be used for artistic projects, as well.

Welcome and closing dinner.

Group walks in the nature a few times a week, off road cycling routes and running trails.

Organized trip to the town of Veliko Tarnovo – the former capital of Bulgaria. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Bulgaria; artists can get materials for their work from there.

Visits to the weekly open-air market in Pavlikeni where you can buy a wide-range of fresh fruits, vegetables, clothes and antiques.

Learning the basics of Bulgarian language with our team.

Written materials created by our team which are connected with Bulgarian rituals and practice and the theme of the residency.

Showing of ritual art, the creation and development of which our residency is based upon.

Open studio or group exhibition at the end of the stay;

Presentation of the works of the participating artists on our website.

Use of the Hall in the Community Center for artistic performances. The hall is unusually large for the scale of the village and has an equipped stage together with almost 300 seats.

Horo dance lessons (horo is the Bulgarian national folk dance).

Use of bicycles for transportation in the village.

Basic tools for work – scissors, brushes, acrylic and oil paints, paper for drawing, etc.

Contact with the local community;

Letters of invitation and other support to help you raise additional funds;


Cleaning service;

Laser printer, PC and multimedia projectors;

Possibility to use free internet at certain locations in the village including the accommodation place.

We will come to pick you up from the town of Pavlikeni and take you to the place of accommodation in the village of Gorna Lipnitsa. From Sofia to Pavlikeni you can travel by train. The ticket costs no more than 10 euro.

We will give you in advance detailed instructions for your trip from Sofia to Gorna Lipnitsa. We are also going to send you a list of places which you can visit, both in the Bulgarian capital as well as other major towns, in case you decided to stay a few days more in Bulgaria.

And the most important:

A lot of fun.

Memorable experience.  

Practical advice on becoming untamed again.

Residency periods and duration of stay:


1st period – from 17.09. to 03.10.2021

nd period – from 08.10 to 24.10.2021


Additional options /for a fee/:

  1. A one-day trip to The Buzludzha monument – an exceptional example of Brutalist architecture in Bulgaria, included in the list of the 33 most beautiful abandoned places in the world – https//freesofiatour.com/blog/buzludzha-monument.
  2. A one-day trip to the city of Gabrovo – the international capital of humour and satire and the hometown of the famous artist Christo. The trip will include:
    • visit to The Museum of Humour and Satire; 
    • visit to The Open Air Ethnographic Museum “Etar” ;
    • swimming pool “Trendafila”– leisure and beach time.
  3. A trip to the Emen canyon, a natural landmark near the village of Emen.

Terms of application:

Each candidate should send us:

–  A short CV;

–  Information about the selected discipline;

–  Information about the selected period. If you would like to stay longer, please state it in your e-mail;

– The artists should present their works by sending info about website, portfolio or images;

– A brief initial idea about your project at the residency. For 2020 the theme of our residency is going to be “Untamed ideas”. You are free to work on it or on another topic if it interests you more. In this case, you should inform us in advance.    

E-mail for application: oldschoolresidence@gmail.com

Selection of participants: The participants will be selected by jury.

Results announcing: Within 5 days after receiving your application.

The disciplines for participation are: Painting, Performance, Installations, Music, Wall-paintin, Photography, Land art, Short films.

The Organizers:

We are artists, lawyers, founders of The Old School residency, herbalists, runners, yoga addicts, but most of all idealists and seekers. We have been organizing various art events since 2010. You can read more about us and our ideas on our websites:


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