Isabelle Desjeux is the permanent resident artist, founder of the residency inviting other artists, mentoring them in the experimental side of art, and helping them navigate the school environment.
Using the space in-between and constantly fostering collaborations with the children, Isabelle Desjeux's experiments, artworks, and exhibitions appear here and there either in the classrooms, in the studio, in her outdoor home studio, or in a gallery or a museum.
To learn more about her artistic practice, go and check her website.
THE RESIDENCY: Constant Collaboration with Children
KAYU WOOD BOIS (January 2019)
Much of Isabelle's object throughout her practice have been made from wood, either raw (branches, trunks), or recycled (old furniture, toys, boxes...), or just repurposed (old planks).
This exhibition set up for the benefit of the children includes many mechanical objects (using pulleys, wheels and handles) ready for the children to interact with.
Children from the classrooms have visited and been inspired to start building their own machines...
Following the exploration with the Camera Obscura outside, the Observatoire was transformed into a double camera obscura inside for much of october. The children were invited to visit, explore, and ask questions.
Surprisingly, the "Upside Down" effect was not as amazing as the surprise of seeing the image move (cars coming in, pedestrians crossing the place, trees moving...). And again the children demonstrated how they observe.
We learned about the effect of the position of the sun on the image, as well as a few things about lenses that could be used to enhance the image. Subsequently, Isabelle went to set up a camera obscura for another show in November, using the practice gained in the studio with the public.
To read Isabelle's notes about her journey through camera obscura, read her blog
In September, Isabelle brought in some giant Camera Obscura!
Isabelle Desjeux's practice is concerned with science and ways of knowing. Her installations often call upon the viewer to become the experimenter, raising their curiosity and making them ask questions. As the long-term resident at l'Observatoire, Isabelle has been working in The Blue House School environment for over 5 years, demonstrating that it is the perfect environment for her installation-in-progress and collaborations.
Set up as a provocation near the entrance of the school, Isabelle observed how the children were reacting to those large objects. She is also tried to actively collaborate with the children to explore and improve upon the cameras.
Those cameras were first shown outside the Peranakan Museum during the Night Fest, and will be ready to tour Singapore once the children have "improved" them.
Apart from looking intriguing, these cameras use old technology to provide a different way of looking at the world, as used by many renaissance painters. They will let children look at their school in a new way, and maybe lead to a new series of paintings?
The school is surrounded by so much nature that only so much of it can be tamed by the gardener. Beyond the (slightly) ordered garden, lay all the small weeds and tall lalang that give the place its serene environment.
Inside the school, the children learn, play and laugh.
The Flora and the Fauna (children!) coexist in this environment where nature is respected.
What if now we tried to make the relationship tangible by giving the weeds the voice of the children? This is what the Giggling Weeds attempts.
During the few weeks of the installation, children were invited to lend their voice to the small un-noticed plants and make them visible through an interactive installation where you can touch the plants to hear them laugh!
Imagined by Isabelle Desjeux, the experiment was run with the help of intern and team member Amelia
and Blue House School.
An earlier version of this installation was developed for Playeum in 2015.
After an invitation to show works on rubber seeds for OH! Emerald Hill 2018, Isabelle decided to collaborate with the children and the community at Blue House to create an invented field of research: Hevealogy or How to Study a Rubber Seed.
The work consisted of exposing the children to rubber pods, seeds, seedlings and leaves collected around Singapore. Quickly, their curiosity was awakened and they naturally contributed many questions which could easily pass as scientific enquiry research. The questions and stories contributed by the children and the community were collated into a script for a performance lecture. The ideas were also used to re-create a Hevealogy classroom, complete with displays, posters, observations stations... and suggesting an alternative way of doing research, solely driven by curiosity, instead of pressure from academia or the institutional world of science.
In preparing for a workshop at Esplanade, entitled "Eternal Weed Drawing", children from SK at Bleu House were invited to look, draw and activate the Eternal Drawing Paper.
Using charcoal and pencils, observing chinese violets and wild passiflower, the children collaborated on the roll of paper and enjoyed turning the handle.
While the children explored, this was also research for the artist, who observed how the children interacted with the medium at hand, the various plants on offer, and the physicality of the drawing. The resulting large scale participatory drawing was created by children at the Esplanade from the 6th to 8th of October, as part of Nature's Creatures Octoburst's series of workshops.