21 December 2011
Residency at the Clews Center for the Arts, Côte D'Azur
In October and November this year, I was an artist in residence at La Napoule Art Foundation - Clews Center for the Arts, at the Chateau de la Napoule in Mandelieu la Napoule, on the Côte d'Azur in France. The Chateau is one of the most prominent landmarks along the Riviera.
American artist Henry Clews (1876-1937) and his wife Marie Clews (1880-1959) acquired the Chateau de la Napoule in 1918. The property was dilapidated at the time, and Henry and Marie worked to restore and extend the residence, and to redesign and establish the extensive gardens. After the death of Henry Clews, and following the temporary occupation of the Chateau by soldiers during World War II, Marie Clews established La Napoule Art Foundation in 1951 in honour of her late husband's memory and to create a centre for international artistic and cultural exchange. The Clews family continue to manage the foundation.
Eight resident artists were present in October-November 2011: two sculptors, two novelists, two filmmakers, a dancer, and myself. We divided our time between the Chateau and the neighbouring Villa Marguerite, in which most of the artists live. Much scope was given for private, quiet, uninterrupted work, and for lively group discussion.
Inside the Chateau one finds many sculptures by Henry Clews, in addition to the personal touches he made to architectural features, such as enigmatic text carved into the large wooden interior doors and stone sculpted animals atop exterior pillars. The rooms are filled with a variety of heavy stone, wooden, or fabric upholstered antique furniture. That the immediate locale of La Napoule and the surrounding areas and towns are fascinating hardly needs to be said. Visual artists, in particular, have long held interest in the Côte d'Azur, in part due to the qualities of the natural light and its seasonal changes.
While in residence, I focused on my new work for voice and chamber ensemble, enclose (2011-ongoing). The work, in part, interprets deconstructed fragments of a text by Arthur Rimbaud.
La Napoule Art Foundation holds a unique and important position among international artist residence programmes. With gratitude to the Clews family, and to the Chateau director, administration, and staff, I wish them continued support and appreciation for their work at La Napoule Art Foundation..
Kristian Ireland (AMC profile)
© Australian Music Centre (2011) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
Composer Kristian Ireland was an artist in residence at La Napoule Art Foundation in France this past October-November. Melbourne-born, Kristian has mostly lived abroad since 2003 but has recently returned to Australia.
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