The beginning of a new body of work is unfolding - my Camac residency at Marnay-sur-Seine, France has commenced. My brain is abuzz and I have some time for my focus. This is good. I have wandered this beautiful small village rich in history – only around 250 people live here – not dissimilar to home – with no school, no pub and no shop – but here there is a church dating from the 12 Century and a cemetery too. I have pondered and gathered some thoughts by the Seine on the river’s edge and at my window too, watching the mistletoe and the bird life abound. And definitely too, I have contemplated the scene around the corner stretching to a neighbouring town of the white plume billowing forth from the nuclear power plant. It is a strange, saturating and ominous feeling to be so close. And I am reminded that the French are never too far from one with the apparent 58 scattered across their lands. Maybe I will gain some understanding of how the people who live nearby process it? More than my initial reaction of perusing evacuation procedures. No doubt this experience will be etched into my being and like the river and surrounding environment, the people, and the history, it will instigate some more research and become part of the patchwork that influences my work.
Connection is happening with the group of artists I will spend time with this month of November – helped by the wine of course over dinner each night. Some treats of studio visits with the other artists have already started, and I am excited to be working just a studio away from this bunch – there’s some very fascinating work happening here and some hearty characters too. The studios are terrific, spread across the walled compound. Mine is large, with a vaulted roof, on the top floor of the 16 Century Abbey. This month, camac has a mixed bunch of visual artists and a writer too from eight countries spread across five continents around the world. There is a couple from Mexico, Ana and Christian, and another couple from Brazil, Sandra and Carlos on a return visit here, two Germans not together, Charlotte and Daniella who is also returning to camac to work with a school’s project, Jakub from the Czech Republic and Daehyun from South Korea, both already here from last month, Katherine the writer from the United States, and Augustine from Pakistan, also a returning artist who is based up the road in the Botanic Gardens.
And of my work I am painting with oils on un-stretched linen in the day and at night in the still life genre, right now of some birds, some branches and some shadows too. My feathered accompanies are a Eurasian Magpie Pica pica or ‘Pie’ as I was introduced to her, who travelled with me on the train, rented from Deyrolles Taxidermy establishment in Paris, (a cabinet of curiosities time travelling experience in itself) and the pigeon found under the bridge – freshly dead (and definitely in the present), possibly left by the resident peregrine falcon or one of the many cats of these parts. It’s good to have started.
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.