Amiens : the first two days



Have had a packed 48 hours. Getting here was somewhat long and circuitous (I got almost nostalgic – as opposed to indignant – when i found out there was a train strike and I might be stuck at the french end of the eurotunnel for 12 wouldn’t be France without a strike somewhere along the line, and I am in sympathy with workers here, if its anything as bad as it is at home).

My perfectly selected team of 6 intern artist assistants at the Ecole Superieure Des Arts et Design, who have just or are just finishing exams, sprang into action with me in our massive, light and quiet atelier in the Faculty, with Sophie on the case, sourcing and dropping off the many boxes and rolls of material and making sure i get my bearings and get settled in. It was a frenzy of measuring, cutting, ripping and organising cloth, thread and binding and wrapping paper scrolls ending in a long line of elements ready for composing the scrolls for the first part of the installation.

I spent lunch and the afternoon with Museum staff, a group of french journalists / critics and the artist Christian Jaccard, whose work I did not know of before, and who has been using knotting as an art form and also using fire to create ephemeral works for decades. Check him out online, (the photos here show the installation) it is extraordinary work. It was really inspiring – and moving – to see the installation “Signa Mentis’, a total collection of the boxes of all his knotted works, with which I felt great resonances of course due to my own practice of wrapping and transforming objects with thread and fabric. And then, en route to the Hortillionages to visit the islands – to listen to him talk about how he uses fire in his work (for which he is apparently better known), and the gestural nature of what he does, made me realise why Sabine had picked up on what I am doing, the connections again with Chohreh Feyzjou and understood how it could really work within the context of the Museum.
It is somehow reassuring when you meet other artists -especially older ones – who use similar mediums and metaphors to express concepts in subtle ways, as if you are part of a continuum, whether or not there is a philosophical resonance.

There is a LOT of work to do, and it is already friday… ( the FAC is closed on the weekend so i will bring some work home to my hostel room, and i have a pile of writing to do too). I’m here on my own, the family will join me for the opening weekend, so I am enjoying the silent mornings to think and write and plan, and the evenings before bed to just slow down.

It’s warm and beautiful here, good working conditions, enjoying speaking and swearing in French … and I know it will go faster than I can possibly imagine..



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