I’m in the process of packing up all my gear, to head from this temporary life of mine with my family in Lamillarie and studio at les AMIS des Arts d’Albi, here in the south of France to my new studio and abode at an artist residency in Marny-sur-Siene at Camac about an hour out of Paris for the month of November. http://www.camac.org/residences-dartistes/candidatures/
Here, I am leaving some wet oil painting’s drying in the studio pegged on my makeshift line. I have been working on un-stretched linen with the thought that it would be much easier to travel without stretcher bars. Of course, the reality of working in this different way has, as always, been a big learning experience. If I can share anything it is prevention - try not to crease ones gessoed linen in the first place. And so too I think, how will I manage the leaving of Camac with wet paintings back to here? The logistics of everything when making away from home is not a small thing. But it’s not such a huge thing either. For mostly I am thinking not of logistics but of the work I will do at this residency and of emotions. What new influences will come my way in this new place, will I be able to express what I want and what value will it all have – will it contribute anything? And also, how will I go without my family and will they all be ok for this month? It’s a big thing to do.
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.
It was both Patrimony Day and the flight of the peregrine falcon above Albi that hooked my family into the streets, in the museums and looking high on Saint Cecile Cathedral. This world heritage listed old city we have landing in opens its arms to all on this day with free entry everywhere. From the cobblestone streets, to Musee Toulouse Latrec, to linkages of France and Australia through the journeys of Albi’s son, La Perouse, there is much to experience here. And a favourite is the Centre d’Art le LAIT – which just happens to be one of the most amazing contemporary art spaces I have experienced … so I share with you one of my snaps of my littlest breathing in this wonder. But with the wow, there was also the sigh, for the current exhibition in the space http://www.centredartlelait.com/?lang=en#expos – a beauty with over fifty photographers and video artist works featured – (if my French ear can be trusted) is one its last. The powers to be have decided to sell the building off to the hotel above. Life is always such a mix of disappointment and … delight.
But there was also delight on this day for some telescopes were set up on the Cathedral to view the perched peregrine falcon. The Tarn Ligue pour le Protection des Oiseaux set these up to share with the people from far and wide the resident falcon. This group and the community have worked together for over fifteen years to protect the falcons in this urban setting, setting up nesting boxes and monitoring the falcons and their fledglings expanding their population across the tarn https://translate.google.fr/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://tarn.lpo.fr/&prev=search It’s a Uno’s Garden real life story in action. http://graemebase.com/book/unos-garden/
And since I have been thinking about these birds and our story with them – but being so far away and high in the sky, they are somewhat tricky to paint. Instead, I have settled in to paint in the traditional and authentic (and as the French say) ‘nature morte’ genre – which translates to ‘still life’. Not a falcon, and not alive, but once feathered, the carcass I set up in the studio recently, was from a local boucherie / volaillers – the way they come here - French style, mostly plucked and almost whole, with head and more – a pintade, – just dead, and ready (in my case for painting and later) for some roasting, to feed my expanded family of nine (except of course the lovely vegetarian). Kind of like killing two birds with one stone. But in reality, it was just the death of one bird - thank you pintade.