The Abbaye de Maubuisson is showing two installations by British artist Laura Ellen Bacon
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The Abbaye de Maubuisson is showing two installations by British artist Laura Ellen Bacon
Le Sentiment Demeure / The Feeling Remains. Photo: Laura Ellen Bacon.

SAINT-OUEN L’AUMÔNE.- The works of Laura Ellen Bacon are sculptures or installations made from woven willow, closely related to land art. They creep and crawl into the architecture, climbing and growing there, in dialogue with the space. At the Abbaye de Maubuisson, the sculptures embrace the shapes of gothic architecture. In the parlour, the willow canes proliferate in aerial coils, soaring up to envelop the spectators. In the nuns’ hall, a tall, dense sculpture takes its roots in the floor and stretches out like a living being. While these sculptures are as powerful as nature, they also give substance to the past activities of the nuns: here, the endless discussions; there, the painstaking detail and concentration of the needlework suggested by the finely woven willow. Simultaneously monumental and mysterious, the pieces invite us to meditate. A collection of abstract drawings, with their spontaneous hatching and lines, complement the loose, tangled forms of the sculptures.

Laura Ellen Bacon was born in 1976 and lives and works in Derbyshire (England). She holds a degree in Applied Arts from the University of Derby and was a finalist in the 2017 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize (V&A Museum). Her large-scale pieces are made from natural materials, particularly willow stems. Knotted or woven the willow stem becomes the raw material for sculptures and even semiarchitectural installations that the artist designs and creates in situ. Her works blend into nature or invite themselves into well-known and historic buildings. Some of the exhibition venues include the Hignell Gallery (Mayfair, London, 2021), Somerset House (London, 2009), Chatsworth Garden (2020), Ruthin Craft Centre (Wales, 2014), etc. In 2018, her work inspired the composer Helen Grime, whose resulting three-part movement, Woven Space, was performed at the Barbican by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

Maubuisson Abbey is one of the two Cistercian abbeys in the Val d’Oise bequeathed by Blanche de Castille and Saint-Louis. For five hundred years, the abbey was a monastic town, before becoming a military hospital, an agricultural storage facility, and a stone quarry. Today, the abbey is a hotbed of artistic creation. Since 2001, the abbey has been an art centre where artists working in different disciplines have been invited to interact with the architecture and history of this prestigious heritage since 2004. Between 2019 and 2021, the Centre hosted exhibitions by Rachel Labastie, Charlotte Charbonnel, Julien Colombier, and Patrick Neu, as well as a number of group exhibitions.

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