A squirrel is inhabiting my studio
A week of paintings has materialised. This week has also seen me held by the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries at the Musee du Moyen Age (a 15th Century marvel curated in fine form) and back at Deyrolles in Paris – and as a result a squirrel this time is now inhabiting my studio, along with the pigeon hanging on in death and the time ravaged mistletoe resembling petrified antlers collected from my bike ride up the road. Some old luggage has been collected too - I could not help myself – discovered in the depths of the shared space. I wonder how long it has been here and who travelled with it. I’m building up to paint these beauties.
With helmets absent and with what can only be described as an air raid siren shouting out from the depths of its lungs, life is as I am finding it. Just routine in these parts. Everyone knows the once a month midday Wednesday test siren – I’m not sure I would get used to it. And many discussions of this and more were had with locals at the party we artists were so generously and warmly invited to. So wonderful to meet these beautiful people from these parts and hear their stories of generations here and of protest from 1978 of the forthcoming nuclear plant – they clearly lost, but they describe a more recent win regarding an ethanol industry proposed development. And, interesting to meet the new comers too, who see the benefits of this place, an artist enclave with quietness and affordable living. And then the hourly and half hourly bells continue to ring with their routine and give me a consciousness of sharing time somehow with those who have been here before me.
Like so many little towns across France there is an amazing recorded history here of over 1000 years of much endurance. Of restoration and destruction, there’s the remnants of the gallows corner ‘Place due Poneau’ from the 9th Century, the destruction of half the church in the 16th Century during the religious wars and the subsequent re-building with a bell tower, of the confiscation of ritual objects and the sending of the bells to the foundry with the onset of the French Revolution in 1793, of Austrian soldiers setting fire to the houses of Marnay-sur-Seine in 1814 and of the destruction of the bridge twice in WWII. I came across these morsels in the church across the road so generously opened by the Town Maire’s Office, for otherwise the church is now locked up. And in the church, I spy some remnants of frescos on the archways that are so unusual to my eye, they remind me of Leunig’s Mr Curly. I am captivated. And too I am captivated by the work happening right now with this bunch of artists at this residency.
Each night we come together and share a truly amazing three course dinner (thank you Sandra and Carlos!) and then we become engrossed in the work of one of us with a presentation and studio visit. To share with you a little of just one of my fellow residents, from the studio next door (pictured above), head here to see some of the work of jakub tomáš https://www.works.io/jakub-tomas . He is from the Czech Republic and is working in a way that peaks my interest. In my last research project at ANU I was looking at the work of Masaya Chiba, Marian Drew and Amanda Marburg. They all blur the boundaries between sculpture, instillation and painting utilsing 3 D sculptural elements that they have created with modelling, collage and or sculpture to inform their 2 D work. And I too have sculpted and cast and built models to install and paint from. I like that in Jakubs work that in playing with reality he paradoxically leaves me with a feeling of unreality.
This project was assisted by a grant from Create NSW, an agency of the New South Wales Government and supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments. The program is administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). This project was assisted by a subvention through the CAMAC – Ténot Fondation.
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