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Residency at Musée d'Art du Valais - Le début!

After three days of trains from Scotland, the first week as Artist in Residence at the Musee d’Art, in Sion, has been full of new experiences. The first was to settle in to the studio at the museum which is housed in a castle, nestled beneath the twin peaks of Sion, each with a castle on top.

Viewed from a distance , it is like a scene from a fairy tale.

I arrive in a heat wave. Tuesday approached 40 degrees. The air was close and stifling difficult to breathe. It reminds me that recently that cactus have started to make their home in this verdant valley, famed for its wines. Glaciated high mountain environments feel another world away, yet they are there, visible distance.

Playing with distance and proximity, using an obsidian mirror.

The one advantage of the heat was it enabled filming of drawings melting at close quarters. In just minutes, the drawing was visibly fading, and areas of white crept of the paper. Adapting the camera to capture melt, I dip my toe in filming with long slow close ups. Under a macro lens, the drawings appear like moraine, all bleached and contrasting greys.

Wednesday, I’m joined by Rebecca Birch and we begin preparing and planning for the film.

This week’s highlight was joining archaeologists from Vaud and Valais cantons at the museum stores to see a collection of wooden batons retrieved from Col du Forcle, on the border of Vaud and Valais. We return on Friday to spend more time with the object. The batons are fascinating. Humble, unassuming yet astonishing how much information these humble objects reveal about activity in high mountain areas. They date to three different periods, the oldest dated to 2600BC, then a roman group, the most recent from the middle-ages. Their purpose remains unknown. They are objects of speculation, or as they are described to us, enigmas.


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