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Cultural Directory | Francine Potvin
Artist / Artisan

Francine Potvin

Mme Francine Potvin
712, rue Des Chevreuils
Farnham (Québec)
J2N 3C6
(450) 293-8235
Artist / Artisan

Francine Potvin

I've had a long and passionate relationship with the plant world. I grew up on a farm and eventually came back to live in Farnham, my hometown in Quebec's Eastern Township.I am happiest and most comfortable when living in close relationship with flora. Plant life and living processes are both the subject and the fertile exploratory terrain in my creative process. Over the years, I have been developing an ecological awareness and sensitivity. I am intrigued by how human co-exist within nature. I am driven by the realization that the true ecological Self is only possible as part of an ecospheric whole. Plants are spiritually satisfying; spending time with them seem to be contributing to the healing process of the misperception of separateness. I am equally fascinated by the physical, chemical, biological and suprasensible qualities of plants. I have a strong interest in botany and herbalism. I see the indiscipline, self-willed existence and prolific propagation of wild plants as defying the Judeo-Christian assumption that nature has been created to serve us, that we can do anything we want and totally control it. Ironically, the migration here of what we mistakenly call ”weeds” is closely linked to human migration. We obviously tend to forget that it does grow where it is now because settlers first created an habitat for them in modifying the natural environment. Wild flora epitomizes our complex and intricate relationship, not only to plant life, but to all other life forms. I like to think that self-propagating plants have the potential to symbolize the dichotomic nature/culture view Westeners have created and nourished: the deceptive belief that nature is separated and inferior to human culture. In fact, human history and natural history, are mutually inclusive disciplines; nature and culture constantly interweave and mingle, they are not separated. When I bring the leafy “material” into my work , I see it anew; I identify with it. Plant material goes way beyond the formal level; it directly refers to life and potentially provides me with a kind of mirror to myself. Lately I have also been interested in the animal life from my backyard. I created a bestiaire with black and white linocuts and botanical caches. In my formal exploration, I use ceramics, printmaking and the cyanotype method. I also use a methodology directly borrowed from herbalism. I work in a serial manner. I am using a paperclay soaking technique where I add paper fibre to liquid clay in order to dip various collected plant forms. In the firing process, the plant material and the paper fibres burn during the firing process, leaving three-dimensional imprints or petrified forms. I create sculptural installations with these ceramics elements. I have also been using collagraphy, a printmaking technique for several years now. The collaboration of Jacinthe Tétrault at Atelier Circulaire was instrumental in realizing the potential of this technique while using vegetal matter. I collage plant material, akin to herbarium sheets to make the matrices for the prints. More recently, I have been introduced to the cyanotype method by Lorene Williams, a Montreal photographer. I have discovered the fascinating work of Anna Atkins (1799-1871), a British photographer, trained as a botanist, who explored the cyanotype method. I am using this old monochrome photographic printing process that gives a cyan-blue print. This method enables me to work very spontaneously with plants I collect on the spot and introduces a good alternative to the long and meticulous process of collagraphy . Ultimately, I see myself as a translator of the awe-inspiring secret life of plants. I am hoping to create images that have iconic resonance and perhaps introducing new feelings, alternative patterns of thought and nonconform representations of nature, reviving a feeling of reverence and enchantment towards other life forms. For me, creating botanical images is an invitation to contemplation, rootedness and a way of reinventing images of the anima mundi. Selling cyanotypes, prints and ceramics.
Art trades
  • Ceramics / pottery
  • Other
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