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  • Writer's pictureClaire Venus

Mapping Air, Marilou Chagnaud - End of residency show.

Mapping Air

Marilou Chagnaud (VARC artist in residence Sept 22 – June 23).

You're invited

To an end of residency show

Rooted within the traditions of minimalism and geometric abstraction, Marilou Chagnaud’s practice spans printmaking, sculpture, and site-responsive installations. Marilou arrived at VARC in rural Northumberland after a period living and working in Canberra, Australia.

Her plan for the ten-month residency with VARC was to explore the movement of air.

What is air? It is invisible but its motion can be felt through all the pores of our skin…It can evoke movement, direction, breath, impermanence.

I’m interested in finding poetic ways to reveal the substance and motion of air through a new body of sculptural works, exploring concepts of elusiveness, intangibility, and interconnectedness in relation with the surrounding environment. (Chagnaud, 2022).

Marilou set about connecting to her new temporary home by walking around Highgreen (where VARC is based), experiencing the elements and charting the speed of the wind, whilst thinking about non-verbal methods of communication. Marilou wanted to make large-scale works that engage directly with the wind but with minimal impact on the environment.

Kite design and flag signalling were the starting points for a major body of work, Mapping Air, which is also the title of her final exhibition. Marilou stitched huge lengths of parachute silk and took them out onto the fells, sometimes alone with her camera and others.

The photographic documentation of the ephemeral performances illustrates the endless transformation of these soft sculptures. At the final show these huge parachute silks will be installed in the various barns at Highgreen alongside drone footage of a performance.

Over a ten month period, rhythms of making become recognisable.

These are affected by changes in daylight, for example, as there is a tendency during the winter nights to focus on studio work such as stitching and painting. The decision for Marilou to use gouache in her process was due to the inaccessibility of print facilities, that would have been the default method of working - although she has made several trips to Northern Print during her stay. Marilou’s show includes a series of beautiful gouache paintings and numerous gouache colour studies, that are directly inspired by the ever-changing colour palette of the vast Northumberland moorlands that have surrounded her.

Her experimentation has extended into dying with natural materials such as lichen and working with dance artist Poppy Ismae, who will respond to Marilou’s installation though improvisational movement at the opening event.

During her residency Marilou has worked with many people in the region. She has shared her paper folding skills with the local community and delivered a collage and card making workshop for Gateway into the Community, based in Hexham. For Greenhaugh Primary School, Marilou designed a bespoke project that has resulted in huge colourful banners of coded messages, invented by the pupils, for the school’s hall.

About the exhibition:

Mapping Air, end of residency show.

Opening event Sat 17 June 11am – 5pm, drop-in, refreshments provided, all welcome!

Improvisational dance by Poppy Ismae, 1pm and 3pm

Minibus available

from Newcastle, booking via Eventbrite here


Show continues:

Sun 18 June, 11-4pm drop-in

Weds 21st – Fri 23rd June by appointment only, email:

Sat 24 June, 11-4pm drop-in


Visual Arts in Rural Communities (VARC), Highgreen, Tarset, Northumberland NE48 1RP

Access: The work is installed in various outbuildings at VARC’s home of Highgreen, therefore expect uneven ground with a slope and small steps in parts. Unfortunately, there is no accessible toilet

. Parking is available on site.

About Marilou Chagnaud:

Marilou Chagnaud (b. 1983) is a visual artist based in the UK. Situated within traditions of minimalism and geometric abstraction, her practice spans printmaking, sculpture, and site-responsive installations. She uses repetition, patterns and soft materials to create works that invite reflection on our perception of form, spatiality and movement.

Her recent work pushes the boundaries of paper to explore its sculptural potential through folding, stacking, and hanging.

Chagnaud graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from the Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence (2008) and went on to complete a Diploma of Textile Design in Montréal (2015). She has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, France and Australia including ANCA (2020), Canberra Museum and Gallery (2018), ANU School of Art & Design Gallery (2017) and the Centre des Textiles Contemporain de Montréal (2016).

Instagram: @marilouchagnaud

About VARC:

Visual Arts in Rural Communities (VARC) is based at Highgreen, Tarset in rural Northumberland. VARC fu

nds and manages an on-going programme of residencies for artists. Through its activities, VARC aims to offer opportunities to artists to develop their work in response to the rural landscape and its community. It seeks to foster, promote and advance the appreciation and understanding of contemporary art and enjoyment of creativity through exhibitions, events and participatory activities in the community and with local schools, regional SEN and SEND schools and visiting groups.

Instagram: @varc_arts

About Poppy Ismae:

Poppy is a dance artist currently based between Northumberland and London, in England. Her work takes the form of a multi-disciplinary approach, encompassing movement, education, writing and illustration. With a natural instinct drawing her back to outdoor environments, Poppy is intrigued by place and its exchange with people, tuning in to the relationships, reflections, and regeneration formed from this.

Instagram @poppy_ismae

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