I was late getting to Clermont-Ferrand, thanks to the train strikes and a tension-fraught rental car drive from Amboise. We've driven all over France, but wouldn't you know that the one time we HAD to be somewhere by a certain time, it took us 3 hours longer than it should have to get there?? I won't go into all of the troubles we had, but if you've ever had the nightmare that you're supposed to be someplace (like onstage) at a fixed time and you CAN'T get there and you CAN'T get in touch with anyone to let them know, then you know what I'm talking about.
Finally, we made it and I got to the Polydome where the exhibition was mounted.
What an AMAZING event!! I really had no idea what it was going to be like, because there were no photos of the installation on the website of the biennale when I applied. There were two floors of the most sophisticated, bountiful displays of travel sketchbooks, by 130 artists---so many styles, so many formats, with scads of accompanying materials---it was a FEAST. Really, a total, full-bore, awe-inspiring feast. But I was there to stick to my display area and to talk to the many, many spectators who came to see the show. I participated in the panel of foreign participants on Saturday evening and that went just fine. I managed to sneak a quick peek at the other work on Sunday morning, thank heavens. I even bought a couple of published sketchbooks and ordered more from amazon dot france on my return. Many, many of the sketchbooks I saw were large (AT LEAST 9 x 12) and ambitious and powerful, with lots of text. A good number, maybe the majority, of the participants had been in the biennale numerous times. Their presentations were highly polished and really, really fun to see. I was like a kid at a three- star confectioner's!
I didn't take photos but I made sketches, above and below, of some of my visitors and neighbors.
And here's my portrait, drawn by Jeanne, aged 8, whose portrait I drew and gave to her. "Madame, je vous adore," she said. I've got a fan! Here's a selection of the many sketchbooks, both self- and other-published that were available. I admired SO much of what I saw there. A couple of my favorite artists did NOT have books or websites. They are Ejoumalé from India, whose painting appears on the catalogue's cover (above). He is immensely gifted and prolific. There must have been thirty of his paintings (not sketches) framed and hung in the Polydome, outside of the exhibition space proper. And there's Nicolas Jolivot, who had the most beautiful, huge (folio sized) woodcuts of China, scads of them, filling several vitrines. There were Stefano Faravelli, Enrique Flores, Irma Kennaway, Michel Montigné, Elodie Studler, Geneviève Marot, Veronique Groseil, Martine Chantereau. So many, too many to name them all. It might sound odd to say this, but the thing I was most inspired by (other than the tsunami of sheer talent everywhere) was the exciting materiality of the work displayed---the large size of much of the work, the heft of many of the sketchbooks, the wild variety of papers used (and of drawing materials, too!) I'd seen the work of some of the artists, like Enrique Flores and Stefano Favarelli, online, for a while now. The show reminded me that there's nothing like seeing work in person. You just can't get the total picture, as it were, from looking at blogs. I'm still digesting all that I saw and felt. I know that in 2008 I'll be going bigger, braver, and with more variety in the mediums I use. We'll see what develops!