I had the great pleasure of exhibiting my work this summer at Salle des Arcades, Couleur Garance in Lauris, France.

Situated on a cliff, the village is incredibly picturesque with the Luberon mountains in one direction and the Durance river with surrounding farmland in the other direction.

Within a week of my arrival, my installation in place and a celebratory opening, I felt so welcomed and enamored of Lauris that I began to feel like a villageoise.

I was also delighted by the big banner in the village announcing the exhibition!

The gallery is located within the larger organization of Couleur Garance on the grounds and buildings extending from the 13th century, Chateau Lauris.  Couleur Garance maintains over 250 botanical plant species used for natural dye extraction.   Originally founded by Michel Garcia, the centre is a base for conservation, instruction, research, exhibition and creative exchange.  Their influence is felt both locally and internationally through their botanical walks, courses in plant extractions, their large exhibition space, instructive books and presence at symposiums.

Its unique co-mingling of nature and culture was a rich context for me to install  “morphogenesis l” and “cell structures” which explores habitat and our relationship with the eco-system.

The exhibition, curated by Couleur Garance, brought together my installations with the work of Inge Boesken Kanold.  While we had never met before, the pieces shared a rhythmic dialogue, where the holes cut in my paper “leaves” were echoed by the repeated traces of murex on Inge’s canvases.  I felt we each lent a new dimension to the experience of each other’s work.

Inge, a lovely person and gifted artist, now living in Lacoste, France, has invested 20 years of research to extract the natural colour purple, used in ancient civilizations from murex. A sort of sea escargot, the pigment comes poignantly from the life of this creature at its death.

Morphogenesis l, was painted with milk paint on kozo paper, then hand cut.  Inspired by fragile, lacy, insect eaten leaves, they hang loosely, evocative of forms seen in nature and the internal body.

“Cell structures”, floating in the arcade vitrines felt like aquatic forms or misplaced Canadian slow flakes lit by the Provencal sun.

For the duration of the exhibition I spent many of my days in the studio attached to the garden where I learned about and experimented with natural dyes and inks.

Visitors to the garden and exhibition were appreciative and innately curious about source of the materials, ideas and process behind the work.

In Lauris, I thrived from the palpable connection I felt between plants, their forms, life-giving properties, their pigments and creative expression.

I am very grateful to the Ontario Arts Council for their support of my exhibition with an Exhibition Assistance Grant.