Saissac: Taylor Barnes, an artist who came from California to find inspiration

Saissac: Taylor Barnes, an artist who came from California to find inspiration
Saissac: Taylor Barnes, an artist who came from California to find inspiration

Two years after the opening of her artist residency, Taylor Barnes launched a bilingual virtual magazine in order to strengthen links between local French speakers and English-speaking artists.

It was not at all expected that Californian artist Taylor Barnes would settle in the small Aude village of Saissac. “ I am a fourth generation Californian. Which isn’t a long lineage by European standards, but in California it’s very old. So I never thought I would ever leave California.” explains the owner of the former Lafage restaurant, once famous for its crayfish and its breathtaking view of the castle, the Lauragais plain and the Pyrenees.

“It looks like Napa Valley, with the vineyards, rolling hills and mountains in the distance, but not the medieval castle on the side!” smiles the artist, remembering the moment she laid her eyes on this panorama for the first time, in 2018, during a stay with a friend. “I remember at that moment I called my mother in Los Angeles and I said to her: I think I found my place”.

This is how the project was born to create a residence for artists in Saissac, a residence which has already welcomed painters, musicians and writers from the United States and Ireland in search of inspiration in the heart of the Mountain Black. “The idea is to bring together in the building groups of people who are radically different from each other and who inspire each other”.

If the first comers are English speakers, the locals also have their place. In 2022, the year the residence opened, the room of the former Lafage restaurant, now called 3.1 Art, welcomed an audience made up of Saissagais and English speakers for a cinema evening. But how to overcome the language barrier? “We presented documentaries by Toulouse filmmaker Gilles Thomat created with three artists, without words, only with the sounds produced during the creation of their works”, Taylor explains. In 2023, the Saissagais were invited to enjoy concerts and exhibitions offered by the artists in residence and the Californian artist is planning other similar events for the 2024 season.

In order to strengthen ties between local French speakers and English-speaking artists, Taylor is launching a bilingual virtual magazine, 3.1 Liminal Space. “3.1 is the length in miles of the beach in Venice Beach, the LA suburb where I lived for 40 years. Liminal Space because it is a space that exists between Los Angeles and Saissac and all points intermediaries”.

Two years after her installation, the artist seems well integrated into her new place of life. “The joke I tell is that I live in a wacky little French film! Every person I meet is a character, everyone has something interesting”, she explains.

Does she have nostalgia for her native California? A little, but in reality, the Los Angeles of his childhood is disappearing. “The magnificent Art Deco buildings that marked my childhood have disappeared. They have been replaced by concrete boxes,” she regrets. “And that doesn’t happen here and I like that. France protects its heritage. The Montagne Noire looks like California 50 or 100 years ago. The region inspires us.”

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