Three Scarborough based artists are taking part in an exciting collaborative art project between the twinned communities of Scalby/Newby, and the coastal town of Pornic, Brittany.
Myself and my husband David and Janine Baldwin, together with four artists from Pornic, have visited each other’s towns, and immersed ourselves in each other’s cultures, to produce an exhibition of artwork inspired by the exchange.
During the summer of 2016, I was contacted by Brigitte Van Wynsberghe (known as Bivan) and Fabienne Alliou-Lucas who were visiting Scarborough, from Pornic as part of the twinning association with Scalby/Newby and they were searching for local artists to share their wonderful idea of connecting our twin towns with an artistic exchange. The very next day they visited my studio at Woodend and although the language barrier caused a few obstacles, between the laughs and confusions, a new friendship and art project was born.
In October 2017, I travelled to Pornic with David and Janine. The light and colours of the sea and skies were inspirational. We were all captivated by the landscape and the architecture of the beautiful, historical town together with the majestic villas surrounded by fragrant pines and quiet chapels in the medieval streets.
It has been a unique opportunity for the united group of seven of us to interpret our experience in our own way through the mediums of painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and mixed media. The exhibition will offer a diverse selection of artworks that represent new visions for each artist.
With the impending separation of Britain from the rest of Europe, these are uncertain times with regards to our future links with France – it is this uncertainty which makes cultural exchange even more important. As a group we saw this art project as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the two cultures of Yorkshire and Brittany. During our stay in Pornic, we found it heartening that we were welcomed with such open arms into the lives and homes of our hosts, essentially becoming members of their community.
We formed new friendships with the artists and their families and we feel these connections have become long-lasting bonds, which will continue long into the future. Many artists wish to be part of a diverse international society of arts professionals, to have the chance to gain insight into other perspectives, and to create artwork inspired by the whole experience of cultural immersion. The Pornic-Scalby/ Newby partnership has been an excellent way to fulfil this ambition. We all feel that the project has highlighted our shared values in this respect.
On accepting the invitation to participate in the project, I did not know quite what to expect, as I have never been involved in collaboration such as this. I am so thankful I did accept as the whole project has been an enriching experience and without it these new friendships would not have been forged. I feel that with our ties with Europe under threat, we have to keep ourselves from slipping into cultural isolation, especially as many artists have worked for years to avoid that. Artists, and indeed people from all backgrounds, benefit from a free exchange of ideas and collaboration, from travelling and embracing new societies, and from celebrating and sharing our own heritage with other nations – the last thing we want to do is to see all those positive elements diminished due to a loss of connection with Europe. As funding for the arts in the UK has been cut, maintaining links with Europe is more vital.
The project could not have been possible without the generous support of sponsors from France and Britain. UK sponsors include Unison Colour, Great Art, Lazenby’s Restaurant, The Plough at Scalby, Don French Signs and Fitzpatrick Design. This has helped with the cost of staging exhibitions in France and the UK and also the publication of a colour catalogue available from the gallery at Woodend.
l The exhibition entitled ‘Territoire-s’ runs at Woodend, The Crescent, Scarborough, from 16 June to 28 July and will then travel to Chapelle de l’Hôpital and Maison du Chapitre, Pornic, France, from 14 September to 14 October.