Wednesday 19th October: Headed off to MAI (Montreal, arts intercultural) for 10am meeting with Erika Kierulf, coordinator of productions/exhibitions at MAI As Erika explained it is the only cultural organization within Montréal and Canada invested with a mandate explicitly focused on the promotion of intercultural art. It is a place where cross-cultural artistic expression and the mixing of genres and styles ultimately lead to the creation of experimental, hybrid and innovative and original art forms. We discussed the application process of applying to exhibit at MAI and came to the conclusion that sadly Cicatrix probably did not fully meet their criteria.

Henny & Erika Kierulf at MAI

We then looked at their current visual art exhibition of work by the artist Coco Guzman a Canadian artist who originally came from Spain. ‘The Demonstration’ was based on her personal experiences as a small child going on marches and protests with her parents in Spain post Franco. The film of her drawing directly onto the exhibition walls revealed her working process for this immersive installation. It immediately reminded me of Picasso’s Guernica. Coco could have been a possible artist for Cicatrix but living in Toronto it was not possible to arrange a meeting.

Coco Guzman: The Demonstration

After saying my thanks to Erika I head off down town to Darling Foundry to meet the curator Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre. I was particularly interested in seeing the Darling Foundry as it hosts international residencies and she has been both supportive and interested in Cicatrix during our correspondence before my trip.

The space at the Darling foundry was very impressive. Being an old foundry the main gallery is a huge, a bit like a smaller turbine hall at Tate Modern. The current exhibition used the space very successfully with a beautiful film about touch and sensuality by Julie Favreau; Délicat Pulse mixed video, installation, sculpture and photographs. Julie had recently finished a residency at the Darling foundry.

Julie Favreau film & installation Delicat Pulse

Anne –Marie explained that Canadian artists can have studio residencies for three years and that during this time artists’ work often changed dramatically and that artists benefited from the opportunities to make contacts with galleries and other artists. They run the residency scheme on a three-year basis in order to keep a turn over of artists thus allowing more people the opportunity to be based at The Darling Foundry. It has a very similar remit as Spike Island in Bristol, with the combination of artist studios, residencies and exhibition space. We discussed how such places are funded, a combination of grants, private funders and public monies. Artists based at the Foundry have priority use of the exhibition space but Anne-Marie is keen that we keep in touch and let her know how the project is progressing. On a personal level their short term international for research residency scheme was of interest, as I have a long-term project about my mother’s evacuation to Montreal as a child during WW2.

Anne-Marie St.Jean Aubre & Henny at Darling Foundry

The smaller exhibition space was showing Picture Transition (Display Camera) Picture Transition (Unfixed Form) by Sarah Greig who also had a studio there. She had made a series of photos around the Darling Foundry using a pinhole camera, the most successful of which had an archeological quality.
I wandered down to Vieux-Port and discovered the amazing old industrial buildings that had been the flour mills. The weather was disconcertingly warm and the maple trees were glowing beautifully

Old Flour Mill

Just time to re-charge the batteries with a spot of food before heading off to Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal for the opening of La Biennale de Montréal 2016 The information for the Biennale stated the following ‘The Biennale de Montréal 2016 explores an unusual question: is hedonism possible today? The project posits the urgency of forming a materialistic, sensualistic approach to the world that mobilizes the capacities of both brain and body to their fullest. It sets out the challenge of developing an ethical hedonism and a joyous utilitarianism.’ I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of the work, which was very high. It seemed to be less about hedonism but more about process and materials resulting in beautifully made work. Highlights for me were was Haegue Yang ‘Multiple Mourning Room’ sculptures and Jean-Marie Gauthier kinetic and sonic installation ‘The Materials Guide Me To The Solutions’. Finally I sat down with a well-earned glass of wine in the rotunda of MAC while viewing the good and the great of Montreal’s art world down below.

Then it was time to meet Catherine Farish and head off to her home and studio, which is about an hour out of Montreal. She kindly collected me after teaching her drawing class at McGill University so we could spend the whole of Thursday together.