Feature: Éveline Gallant-Fournier's natural art installations
Éveline Gallant-Fournier is a bilingual Acadian visual artist and sculptor from Saint-Basile, NB whose body of work encompasses beautiful sculptures, paintings, surreal outdoor installations and much more. She works with bronze, ceramics, found objects, digital media and just about anything she can get her hands on. Back in July I featured one of her land art installations in Issue #3 of CreatedHere magazine, and then later approached her about doing a feature. She also appeared on CreatedHere in August as part of the Fabulous Five: Gallery on Queen features five Acadian artists. Yes indeed, Éveline is an artist of such caliber that she basically plays on the art equivalent of the NHL, alongside all-stars such as Herménégilde Chiasson, Claude Roussel and Marie-Hélène Allain. She even won an Éloize as artist of the year in 2016 - essentially the Stanley Cup of Acadian art. Her work speaks for itself, original, beautifully formed and visually compelling.
When I first came across Éveline Gallant-Fournier’s work, particularly her nature installations, I was entranced. It was like art created by wood fairies. I knew I just had to share it. I can’t wait to see what she does next!
How did you become an artist?
When I was young, my father often drew caricatures of little pigs, dogs or other animals for fun. One day I decided to see if I could draw too and I was surprised with how well I could do it. It was like magic. In grade school, I would go to the board to draw something on holidays during the school year and I soon became the one designated for this task. However, I didn’t identify myself as an artist until I was an adult, years after my first shows, and only after being convinced by my peers.
What inspires you to create art out in nature?
I don’t know if I was inspired or seduced by nature, or simply called. This art form has definitely become an essential part of my work. I love to use tree stumps or rocks as bases. For me, hay fields, beaches and entire ecosystems become exhibition spaces. Nature attracts me like a flower attracts a bee.
What is your creative process like? Where do you start when you undertake a new piece?
First comes contemplation. I always take the time to just be in the physical space. I listen and I feel everything around me and I imagine what might be beyond what my eyes can perceive.
For land art, everything is decided on site. I only use materials that are there. I also use the contours, elevations or depressions in the ground, and the contrasts or references in the landscapes for dialogue between the work and the environment. I love the ephemeral side of this kind of art and the challenges of working with different materials and very limited resources.
As for ephemeral installations, I bring the material with me into nature. I like using human forms or body parts made of ceramic bisque that are arranged in nature and resemble stranded bones in the landscape, bleached by the passage of time. My installation projects are inspired by the poetic side of nature and often carry a reflection on environmental protection. Most of these projects take place and evolve over several years. The migratory appearance of the installations is an important part of my process, and also the recycling of materials into new creations / compositions.
What inspires you to create your natural installations?
Creating in nature requires a lot of energy, adaptation and a lot of travel. I love embracing the challenge and the adventure that comes with it. I always feel a profound sense of well-being when I work in nature. All my senses are stimulated, but at the same time, I enter a deep meditative space. I am a witness to and I participate in the buzz of life. Fish jumping in the water, the coming and going of light and shade, the breeze that caresses the hay and a thousand and one other things that attract me. I am motivated by creation, and also by love - love for nature, love of beauty, love of LIFE. The Earth is a great and powerful creative force. For me, it is both a mentor and an inspiration.
How do you see these temporary installations differently than your other works (sculptures, indoor exhibitions)
The ephemeral side of this kind of work is at the heart of the difference. There are only memories and photos left of them, just like photos of bygone eras are the only witnesses of what once was.
We often see the same repeated shapes in your works, such as spirals, and the faces and forms of women. What do they represent for you?
The spiral is ubiquitous in nature. It is also a fundamental and primitive force of LIFE, as the feminine essence. I just want to give a shape to this energy and a body to that essence.
Thank you for sharing with us, Éveline!