University of Tasmania hosts first French resident artist

A new pilot program could open up the University of Tasmania to a series of French resident artist stays in Launceston.

Perrine Lacroix is the first French artist to work on a residence project at the university, which organisers hope signals the start of an annual exchange program with France.

Her five-week residence is part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Tasmania and the French Embassy of Australia with support from the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

Lacroix’s resident project 22 Tools explores humanity’s relationship with tools, looking at language, knowledge and physical tools.

As part of her research, Perrine discovered Tasmanian Aboriginals used 22 different tools, while Indigenous mainlanders used more than 120 tools.

“The first explorers said that people here seem in good health and very happy,” Lacroix said.

It sparked the idea that people could be happy with less following the European thinking “that happiness comes with progress, evolution and more tools”, she said.

The 22 tools were a philosophy of life because instead of thinking up new types of tools, they focused on other areas of their culture, she said.

"While just in this small island, Tasmanian Aborigines were divided into nine ethnic groups with all their stories, culture and myths now we have a common Google story for all the planets.”

French resident artist Perrine Lacroix

“Now in all of the world we use the same database. While just in this small island, Tasmanian Aborigines were divided into nine ethnic groups with all their stories, culture and myths now we have a common Google story for all the planets.”

Her work was split into a variety of multimedia projects, including performance, video projections and artworks, weaving in history, reality and the virtual world.

“Usually, the subject is made with the tools, here the subject is the tools.”

UTAS Centre for Cultural Value director Kim Lehman said Lacroix’s residency was a pilot for a three-year cultural exchange with France.

If it went ahead, the exchange could see at least one member from the French artistic community or a philosopher completing a residency at Launceston sites each year, he said. 

The idea sparked from a “coincidental meeting” Lehman had with a member of the French Embassy of Australia at a QVMAG art exhibition.

They started discussing the university’s desire for artist residences, a sentiment that was shared by the French Government, and it went from there, he said.

The four month process to set up the exchange pilot had already lead to further discussion about future collaborations, Lehman said.

The theme of this residency was ‘Arts, Creativity and Transformation’.

It was a broad concept, which could look at the physical transformation in the land as well as the change in thinking, he said.

“The value of art, if nothing else, is to cause people to think more carefully about the world around them.”

By asking questions and pondering about artworks, people could develop a better understanding of the place they live in, he said.

“Art and culture is a way the rest of the community can access the things that we’re doing here … it’s a point of meeting.”

It was a way of invigorating the precinct now instead of waiting for the development, Lehman said.

  • Perrine Lacroix’s 22 Tools project will be on display around the Inveresk precinct near the QVMAG from November 17.