Water Memory, Tale of a Rippling Mirror by Sofie Dieu

Our upcoming Dragon’s Lair Gallery artist is prize winning artist, Sofie Dieu. Born in rural France, Sofie brings a unique cultural perspective to her art. She works in various types of media including textile, poetry, video and photography. She is particularly interested in telling the stories of remote communities and first generation Australian women in her multimedia projects, which she performs and records, and then later paints in her Melbourne studio. Her art is focused on giving a voice to the unheard and she has collaborated with various organisations such as the Black Dog Institute and the Refugee Women’s Coalition. She has taken part in many Artist in Residence programs including the Georges River Artist in Residence program, Creative Gippsland, Falls Creek in Victoria and Les Lizières in France.

Sofie’s exhibition, Water Memory, Tale of a Rippling Mirror, showcases her new body of work. During her residency as part of the Georges River Artist in Residence program at Carss Park in 2020, Dieu was inspired by the waterways and the ecosystem of the Georges River to interpret the work of Japanese scientist, Dr Masaru Emoto. Emoto’s work has profoundly influenced Dieu’s practice. Since 2019, Dieu has repeatedly investigated her deep connection to water through ink painting, drawing and photography.

Sofie recently took some time to answer some questions about her artistic process.

  1. Can you give us an insight into your artistic process? Is your work pre-planned or created intuitively? How long does each work take to complete?

Early 2019, I started working on this body of work around water, and it is only 2 years later that I am finalising the last artworks. To create a show that is simultaneously engaging, highly creative and relevant to our society and community, it does take a lot of time, resources and hard work, but it is all worth it in the end!

My work always starts with research which in this case includes reading scientific papers on water memory, digging in ancient beliefs and ritual around water as well as understanding our water eco-system here in Australia. It goes on for a while until it gets digested. Then I follow my instinct. It might tell me to take pictures or to paint. This time, I was drawn to embroidery and sacred geometry. I worked with 50 New Australian women from the suburbs of Melbourne to create a 3m diameter dress. I performed the dress in the Victorian High Country, took pictures and videos of it. During my residency at CARSS, I was inspired by the Georges river to edit these photos and paint on them.

2. Can you explain your technique; how you manipulate the medium?

For the editing of the photos, I used ink. This is my key medium, I always go back to it, it is the foundation of my practice. I first tried my hand on cheap prints, to reduce cost and also give me the freedom to mess it up. Then I printed the photos and started working in large format. I meditate before each new work, to leave aside any expectation and sit in the moment. Once I can see the picture dancing in front of my eyes, I start. It is a peaceful process that takes days to be completed.

3. Do you keep some kind of ongoing drawing book or diary? Or a collection of images or photographs for inspiration?

I do have a sort of diary which is more like a research journal. Everything goes in there, it is my bible in a way. It gets thicker every day and is filled with references, quotes from my many readings, sketches, poems, samples of material etc. I don’t share this with others, it is very private, my every thoughts are in there!

4. Who are your favorite artists? Who do you draw inspiration from?

My two key reference artists are Fabienne Verdier and Gao Xingjian. They both practice ink painting and have a very different approach to it. Gao Xingjian is also a poet, writer (he won the 2000 Nobel Prize), director, opera writer… Both their works are fascinating and endlessly inspiring. We all share in common China and our different experiences of it reflects in our work.

To find out more about Sofie’s work, head to her website, or check out her work on Instagram: @sofiedieu

Water Memory, Tale of a Rippling Mirror opens on Saturday 15 May and runs until Sunday 6 June 2021.

Cover image: Beyond reflection by Sofie Dieu, drawing-photo on paper, 2021.

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