French Residency Projects 2023

In May -June 2023 I undertook to residency projects in rural France. Both of these enabled me to pursue work with installation and photography.

During the northern spring of 2023 I had the opportunity to undertake 2 artist residences in France.

The first took place at the Chateaux d’Orquevaux – a rural  estate in the French countryside of Champagne-Ardenne. 

While it was easy to be overcome by the historical context and architectural  grandeur, I  aimed to continue working with representing this landscape through ephemeral installation . My choice of material – pool noodles – while seemingly at odds wit the natural and cultural context – provided a unique way to experiment with how water moves through space along the La Manoise stream from the source –  le Cul de Cerf  through the man made environment.

The Cul de Cerf exits as a result of chemical and mechanical erosion of water on chalky soil and presents as a very purely flowing spring. The ravine of the source is almost circular … 200 metres wide by 50 meters deep and slopes at around 45 %. At the base of the slope sits the most upper and often temporary source of the Manoise . Water in this setting behaves very differently to the of Australian settings as it is not affected by tide or ocean currents , but rather by the fall of gravity and in the case of the locks and interventions around the Chateaux – form both a source of pleasure and previously a source of hydro electric power. Water at the source is classified as hard: oligo – mesotrophic – quite rich in dissolved bases ( pH around 6-7) with dry clear blue to greenish water , the bottom of the stream its covered with charophyte – a form of algal carpet- which is evident in the dense moss on the vegetation. 

Images below : Experiments in video and ephemeral installation- tracking how the water moves from the source.

The second residency took place later in the spring at the NG Art Creative Residency at Maussane-les-Alpilles, Provence.  At this site I also continued to investigate the nature of water sources and bodies of water – both natural – artificial and the in – between. The near by Blue Lagoon cannot be swum in as it is a flooded quarry, so quietly exists in the landscape but still conveys a sense of danger due to the lack of easy physical access to the space as well as the nature of the body of water. The lagoon was created as a result of the  bauxite mining industry that was an important part of the economy in this region in the nineteenth century .The name bauxite, derives from the nearby village name les “Baux” and the predominantly limestone environment is interrupted with tracts of red ochre in a manner quite similar to areas in the Australian landscape. By floating the pool noodle sculptures in this water – which we could not enter – my awareness of the text written on the pool noodles became heightened.

At this residency I also countered this approach to landscape with more research about how the body moves through the overtly “leisured” site of an indoor swimming pool – exploring the different lighting patterns that  were occurring during the day.

Images Above : Experiments in video and ephemeral installation- tracking how the the sculptures interact with various bodies of water.

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