Marion Flanagan working in the attic work space at Atelier Melusine in La Trimouille, France.
Embarking upon a one-week arts residency at Atelier Melusine will allow me to see the French countryside while exploring some ideas stemming from today's environmental crisis. I'll be staying with British painter Sally Annett in a small village in the south-west of France. I plan to take the train there to avoid flying and this requires three train connections: London to Paris, Poitiers, and Montmorillon. The slower pace of train travel will give me the time to read the book Materiality from Whitechapel Gallery while preparing mentally for the week ahead.
Wind turbines near Calais, France.
Before my departure, I listened to the podcast series On Ecology produced by the Serpentine Gallery. I expect it will guide the works I'll create during this residency as I'll be looking at interactions between humans and nature. This series looks at how current attitudes led to a situation where humans are destroying the planet which we live on. Why would we take actions that could potentially threaten our own species? To break down this issue, they recommend beginning by exploring ideas around how we see humans in relationship to nature. Have we become distanced from nature as a result of technology and the industrial revolution as the Romantics believed? Or have we forgotten that we are actually an inseparable part of nature as Timothy Morton, professor at Rice University, expresses in his talk: Nature Isn’t Real. Morton argues that the Anthropocene movement mistakenly focuses on man’s actions upon nature, thereby creating an imagined separation between humans from nature. He proposes that we shouldn’t “Other” nature, and instead, we need to view ourselves as a part of nature, a being among beings.
I chose to use liquefied acrylic paint in my work to represent the organic forms of land, plants, and humans. Following four days of intensive painting on paper, my host, Sally Annett, organised a viewing of my new work towards the end of my stay. (More detailed images of my work can be found in my next blog post.)
Visitors to the exhibition on 25 Oct 2019, and right, Sally Annett and Marion Flanagan.
I appreciate the support that my host Sally offered and I especially appreciate that she visited the bakery every morning to bring me fresh croissants. After de-installing the show, she took me on a tour of the nearby towns and countryside around La Trimouille.
Photo of Montmorillon, France.