At Greywood Arts, we each worked on our personal projects. And we wanted to make a duet artist’s book – a single copy – that would be a collaborative testament of our stay.
How to start? Who should start?
On the first day we walked in the beautiful Gleann Bodhar (Glenbower) forest along the river Dissour. This name intrigued me, because “dis sourd” in French means: “say deaf,” which for any poet is already a good foundation!
Our walk together was the beginning of the book. Walking has been important in our lives (in the past we walked ten days in south Germany, on the road where Arthur Rimbaud or Hölderlin walked, but also the WW1 French escaped Prisoners).
I wished to start something with these very old oaks, sycamores; this charming path along the river, whose hissing was something magical. I then read that the Irish name came precisely from the sounds of water. (Gleann Bodhar translates to “deafening glen”)
I started a long, flowing phrase with these names, inventing words, and mixing French, English and Irish. Also thinking about James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, which I read every day in my Greywood studio. I created toponyms, like Lissacrue, almost a French word too, which became the title.
Meanwhile, Isabelle began a series of stone paintings. She was fascinated by the remnants of gravestones in the marble workshop beside the old Killeagh cemetery. She picked up pieces of polished granite, on which she drew colored lines, according to the veins of the stone, or the mechanical cut. She then continued this type of drawing on paper.
She made several drawings with weaving or interlacing lines, on 17.5 x 27 cm sheets, leaving a place on each page for my poem to unfold. I wrote with my fountain pen, following the contours of the drawing. The big commas are like musical signs. Punctuation is so important. But contemporary punctuation dates from the time of the stagecoach…
We wanted each page to attempt a new layout. We had just enough time to finish before continuing on our journey to stay on Arainn (the Aran Islands).
This poem written at the residency then continued, and it established the general form of my book – an epic, built from the rivers of Ireland: Shannon; Liffey; Lee; Corrigh; etc. The first page is the Dissour, of course!
When Isabelle returned to her studio in Paris, she took these weaving colored lines into new paintings on canvas.
– Patrick Beurard-Valdoye
French, born in 1955, lives in Paris. Poet and historian of the arts.
During a stay in Ireland (in Cork) in 1974, he decided to devote himself to poetry. In the 1980’s he founded and directed Cahiers de Leçons de Choses, a magazine that received praise from both Claude Simon and John Cage. His activity as a poet has extended to the organization of literary and visual arts events, the co-ordination of monographs and collective publications, providing artistic advice to a scientific magazine, the writing of articles, participation in various juries and commissions, lectures, performances (about 200 in over twelve countries), diverse collaborations with visual artists and urban designers, and also includes theoretical writing on the visual arts. He has previously been awarded grants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Book Center.
Patrick has been teaching at the National Advanced School of Fine Arts in Lyon since 1987, where he co-founded in 2006 the “Station d’arts poétiques”, a training program for the practices of poetic writing. He also teaches a regular course in history of arts and ideas.
An author of 25 books he has just finished working on the seventh book of the Cycle des exils.
Isabelle is a painter and filmmaker, although other mediums are regularly involved. The paintings she creates are related to “Colorfield”. In her practice, gesture is significantly controlled, abstract shapes whose lines are traces. Isabelle draws a lot, most of the time in watercolor, in continuation of this pictorial practice.
Reading poetry frequently and for a long time has brought a particular artistic approach to the world and to her work, through ellipse and density.
Although Isabelle shoot real things, there is an abstract dimension to her films; and there is certainly a poetic and musical dimension. She often works with poets (and sometimes musicians) in her film projects.
Isabelle has also created artist’s books, and book covers.