Lisa Pettibone, MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, reflects on her recent one-week residency at Domaine de Boisbuchet, France.
Tucked away in the unspoiled agricultural backwaters of Southwestern France, this 19th Century chateau and rambling farm buildings is the picturesque location for contemporary summer design and architecture workshops at Domaine de Boisbuchet. The pedigree of the international teachers, its support by the Vitra Design Museum and the beauty of the location were sufficiently tempting for me to apply. But it was the work of American artist Janet Echelman and the possibility of creating a large-scale collaborative artwork using sustainable solar powered cells that really drew me in.
After my degree show on the MA Art and Science course in May 2018, I was keen to push the scope of my installation work and her approach to creating monumental ‘self-forming’ outdoor sculptures was alluring. The Solar Futures project goal was to design and construct a site-specific self-illuminating installation using thin film solar photovoltaic technology provided by German company Opvius. I had my doubts how 13 participants and Janet’s colleague, landscape architect Trevor Lee, would be able to navigate such a large project in five days. The experience and the resulting work were filled with fun and folly, wavering from brilliant focus to full-on chaos along the way.