Noémie Sauve is the artist in residence aboard Tara until Noumea. Originally from the Drôme, she is Parisian by adoption. For Noémie, who says she’s “afraid of airplanes and water”, the beginning of this voyage was not easy. She embarked on August 7 in New Zealand and immediately had to endure 8 days of very rough sailing against the winds. A month later, she has found her mark, both personally and artistically. Conversation with a passionate artist who uses a very particular technique, fine and precise as the strokes of her pencil:
V.H.: Noémie, what do you remember from your first hours on board?
N.S.: I’m not used to traveling. Before I set out on this adventure, I didn’t know how to prepare myself. I arrived in New Zealand with a load of stress, but also a lot of desires. Docked at the wharf in Whangarei, Tara and her crew were waiting for me to set sail. It was almost nightfall. When I saw the boat, I felt a huge wave of relief. I’m here! I had taken one trip to begin another.
Afterwards, I didn’t have any real moments of adaptation. No one had time to take care of me. So I imitated what I was seeing and gradually adapted to the very rough sea. I said to myself, “To stay alive there’s no choice but to trust the crew, people I don’t even know.” I didn’t quite understand what was happening to me.
Noémie Sauve draws freshly collected coral © Vincent Hilaire / Tara Expeditions Foundation
V.H: One month later, you feel very comfortable aboard Tara. After this challenging start, has the experience turned out to be positive?
N.S.: In one month I feel like I’ve lived through several seasons. At every moment you know you’re voyaging on the water. The sea and the winds are sensitive to all environmental parameters. You feel the globe. And I feel invincible now! (laughs). This baptism by fire –very difficult for me as an artist coming to observe scientists — definitely created a bond with the sailors. A tacit friendship. I understood that it was the sailors above all who welcomed me. With this voyage, I started at point 0: we’re all subjected to the same elements. It’s like being calibrated by the sea.
In these agitated waters, each wave has an identity. It carries a warmth, a conversation from the inside to the outside, a resonance. The ocean is mapped, but this dimension, this emotional landscape is not. One feels life under the water and the influences of this life outside the water.
Improvised exhibition of Noémie Sauve’s drawing on fluorescent coral fishes © Vincent Hilaire / Tara Expditions Foundation
V.H: Do you have a more precise idea of the work that will be inspired by this residence?
NS: Before I came aboard, I wanted to create a project about reading the landscape, where the influence of human activities would be identified, with a nod to the great naturalist expeditions of the 18th century.
A month later, I have a more precise idea of the different “palettes” that will give substance to this project. My palettes are philosophical, scientific, maritime, technical. In my drawings, diagrams and graphics, I integrate these palettes with colors, objects, corals, leaves, fishes, waves.
Noémie Sauve dives in the ocean to find the inspiration for her creations © François Aurat / Tara Expeditions Foundation
I’ve created references and try to include these palettes in the drawings I’m doing aboard Tara. Back in my Paris atelier, this material will allow me to really begin the work. The exchanges with scientists inspire me a lot because each of these drawings or future sculptures, for example, are tools for reflexion. An illustration: Ecology is a whole, but science traditionally approaches it only discipline by discipline. This question will be present in my future creations.
I can already tell you that my drawing of coral struggling with ocean acidification and rising temperatures will be one of the works I’ll finally keep, out of all these first sketches. Actually I have many ideas. In sculpture, I will work more particularly on fantasmagoric fluorescences. It’s often apparent that the human race, rather than respecting what we don’t understand, systematically wants to master it. The coral landscapes explored during the Tara Pacific expedition are not spared this, so I’m going to create imaginary landscapes to stimulate interest in their complexity. I’m also thinking of creating exoskeletons, as polyps do, using the technique of metal electrolysis.
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