I have been thinking about all the things that will be my last time here in Caen: last walk down the harbour, last shop at the Monoprix(grocery store) or last cheerful `Bonjours` to the lovely people at ésam. For a city, whose name I could not even pronounce nor even locate on a map, in three long and short months of calling it home, has become a place to which I want to return. Maybe I have a penchant for romance and this French city and culture has wooed this simple prairie girl on her first extended sojourn from home. But it could be something more than that...
I can't help and think of this in terms of my work and connecting to place. I have not simply been a tourist here but I have resided here. When I presented my artist talk in English last week, Andrew said I spoke in a French accent. Just it time to leave, the language has begun to seep into my brain. Hesitant upon first arrival to speak any word of French, I am now using as many as I can. (FYI - still no where near conversation ready) A large part of the downtown core I can navigate without a map and just last afternoon while out shopping, I gave directions to a local to the Christmas market! As most of us wouldn't dare leave home without our cell phones, my umbrella has also become a given part of my accoutrement. There are many more things I could write but my point is...I feel the tiny fingerlets of connection have developed and thus a fondness has grown.
I will move on to my artwork. France has called it the 'masterpiece', Andrew named it 'The Beauty' and another 'jellyfish.' I named it 'Oscillate' but enjoy everyone's individual interpretations. By a stroke of luck, Andrew was able to arrive a little over a week early. It was very fortunate since the school's install crew was busy working a grad show in the school's large main gallery.
This is a shot of the macrame still in my studio in the finishing stages. I turned the pieces around and worked from the back side to install the fiber optics and then attached these to groupings to small 5mm LED lights with the help of a school technician named Christian.
Monday, Nov 27th was install day. The metal header for the macrame is laid out on the floor and all of us are scratching our heads. How to transfer the wave pattern up onto the ceiling??? (header was result of technician named Jacky) I did a burlap/rug hook piece as well and that rests on the floor by the window.
The crew: Andrew and France watch Martin hammer drill the first hole into the ceiling. Why hammer drill??? The whole school is one giant cube of cement!! If I were a student, there is no way I would have been allowed to drill into the ceiling. #benefits of a visiting artist
This room really isn't a gallery but a meeting space for students to present their work to profs at evaluation time. It had its limitations - the macrame needed total darkness and the rug hook needed to be lit. There was no way to do this so the rug hook got placed in one end and somewhat forgotten. I also had dreamt up a lighting option for the macrame that wasn't plausible either. So that would be...#limitations of a visiting artist. I am happy with my first venture into using light. I took a ton of pictures with gallery lights on and off...the macrame holds its own in both situations. The photos I am going to share were taken by the lovely photography teacher, Michele, who so graciously documented the macrame and sent me 29 amazing photos - here are just two...
Next evening, was a conference for both Adrien and myself to speak of our work and the residency experience. France is in the middle to translate for me.
We went for supper afterwards and Andrew dared to try a local dish of mussels. He has always been a fan of seafood. To his surprise, this huge pot came and he received a lesson on how to use one of the first shells as his tool to pick out the meat. What was I eating you may ask??? You needn't think too hard...it included cheese and red wine!!
While the show was up for its long duration of week, Andrew and I played tourist.
We did a couple days of walking tours in Caen. There were churches, abbeys, a street named Rue du Canada and very old cemeteries like this one.
This church is in Bayeux beside the museum which holds a famous 70ft long tapestry. Had to see that!!
This is Mont St. Michel.
D-Day tour that started here at Pointe du Hoc just west of Omaha beach.
East of Omaha beach is Arromanche where the remains of the manmade harbour the Allieds contracted after DDay as a shipping port for supplies for the troops. It consisted of 8 story high concrete blocks and also sunken ships.
Now, the task of saying goodbye to this place and all the lovely people. The artwork has been shipped. The bags packed. I made gifts for the women, gave wine to the men and left flowers on the reception desk...all in effort to leave behind a sense of my gratitude for their hospitality. It has been a great experience and never will it be forgotten.