2019 – PRESENT Casser Maison (breaking the house)* refers to a French-Canadian end of life ritual of clearing a house. In my practice Casser Maison is a bricolage of drawing, painting, and collecting that considers ideas of place, home and nostalgia as expressed through the rituals of breaking or leaving a house.
Of Quebecois extraction myself and, in 2019, in the midst of helping my mom sell her house in New England, I became fascinated by the term Casser Maison. The fact that my family was ‘breaking the house’ became very real as we dismantled the home my parents had lived in for 30 years. Having moved to Scotland in the 90’s their house was my last physical connection to the USA . I started to think about how we preserve a sense of ‘home’ even when that home disappears.
As an artist I often find my creative bearings by working outdoors – in French ‘en plein air’ and over years I have begun to feel I have a creative ‘home’ in the landscape. I began to wonder how this part of my creative practice might present answers to the painful yet necessary process of Casser Maison.
MUSEUM OF LOSS AND RENEWAL RESIDENCY In October 2019 I was selected for a Prendendo Tempo residency at The Museum of Loss and Renewal created and run by artists Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen in Collemacchia, Italy to develop Casser Maison and for three weeks I worked outdoors in the mountains of Molise. The paintings and drawings in this section were all created on location in the outdoor studio I set up behind the village of Collemacchia. One particular object summed up the process of Casser Maison for me. It was a clay memory box or ‘aedicula’, which I created from collected materials and local clay. A memento of time spent in Collemacchia, when I returned to Scotland. I left it behind in my outdoor studio. Here it slowly dissolved in the autumn rain. Tracy documented its disintegration sending me photos until it finally disappeared.
[*I first came across the term Casser Maison in a paper by Jean-Sébastien Marcoux (no relation) The ‘Casser Maison’ Ritual: Constructing the Self by Emptying the Home]