Site Visit: Forlane 6 Studio
March 2018 | Poros, Greece
‘It’s So Cool!’
It was a warm Mediterranean evening. We were having dinner with the artist duo, Hortense and Mathieu, just a few footsteps away from the sea in a local restaurant. Mathieu ordered a variety of seafood and wine. The chilled mood momentarily erased our working mode.
‘It’s so cool’! Hortense repeated, regarding our plan for the film we were working on together. Mathieu listened attentively and nodded. Our first night on Poros Island had ended with lots of talk of the sea as well as eating local fish and drinking wine. It was so Cool!
A House Resembles the Sea
The next day, we were invited to the artists’ home/studio/workshop, an old abandoned Mediterranean villa with five cats playing and lounging around. Two of them live in the house; the other three come for food from time to time.
When Hortense opened the door, the first thing we noticed was the dominance of the colour blue in all its possible shades. Everything in the interior drew a romantic picture of the sea. The walls, the ceilings, and even the bookshelves in the studio room resembled the shape of waves. It won’t be hard to guess now that both Hortense and Mathieu were dressed in blue from head-to-toe.
The couple were really happy and proud of their house. This was the first time in their life where they had put in such a big effort into decorating their home. Mathieu built most of the furniture and Hortense went to a marble quarry nearby to buy materials for their coffee table. ‘We were always too busy for that before’, said Hortense. After thirteen years of searching, on this Greek island and in this old house, they finally felt it was the right time to settle down.
‘We were always too busy for that before’, said Hortense. After thirteen years of searching, on this Greek island and in this old house, they finally felt it was the right time to settle down.
Everything in the interior drew a romantic picture of the sea. The walls, the ceilings, and even the bookshelves in the studio room resembled the shape of waves.
When Artist Encounters Marine Engineer
Hortense and Mathieu are both French. Hortense studied fine art in Amsterdam and London. She became interested in diving during her university years. ‘I remember the first time I saw people diving, and I was so jealous. I thought it was so cool! It is so much better down there’, said Hortense. After that experience, the idea of combining art and diving was born.
After graduation, Hortense planned her career and life in a way that she could pursue her new passion. She took a diving course and found a job as a set designer in a production company in the Philippines. It gave her opportunities to practice diving and underwater filming.
Before Mathieu met Hortense, his life had nothing to do with art. He studied marine engineering at the National School of Merchant Navy in Marseille and worked on large ships as a mechanical engineer. ‘Art was something I couldn’t understand, especially conceptual art. I didn’t have a key to that universe’, Mathieu reminded himself. He always thought art was something one had to be educated and trained for. ‘When we met, I sold Mathieu the idea that art can be playful and fun. I told him about putting sculptures under the water. It seemed challenging for him. You can’t find a tutorial on YouTube about how to make weird objects. That is what made Mathieu interested’, explained Hortense. Ever since, Mathieu has been the creative engineer of Forlane 6 Studio.
"When we met, I sold Mathieu the idea that art can be playful and fun. I told him about putting sculptures under the water. It seemed challenging for him. You can’t find a tutorial on YouTube about how to make weird objects. That is what made Mathieu interested."
The Most Thrilling 20 Minutes of My Life
Day 3: The artist duo took us onboard their ‘off-shore studio’ – the sailing boat named Forlane 6. We went to see their latest underwater installation called Disorientate on the nearby island of Hydra.
Before we entered the sea, Hortense gave me a very brief induction to scuba diving and off we went.
It was a mind-bending experience. It confused me at the beginning. My eyes saw trees under the water, but my mind was struggling to process it because I knew that trees don’t grow in the sea. It made me forget where I was. Feeling ‘hypnotised’ is probably the best way to describe the sensation I had. Moving through the ‘palm tree forest’ five metres under the sea, it felt like I was exploring another planet or another dimension of the world.
Suddenly, my extra-terrestrial journey was disrupted by a loud intrusive industrial noise. It had ruined the dreamy state of my mind. It penetrated my ears and my chest. It made my whole body shiver. An unexplainable worry very soon grew into a panic. It made me feel trapped. I couldn’t breathe in. I knew that the oxygen tube was there in my mouth; I just need to suck the air in, but my body didn’t listen. I wanted to go up immediately, but I couldn’t. Something didn’t let go of me. Hortense came close to help me. She gave me a strong push and, suddenly, we were at the surface of the sea.
We were both shocked by what had happened. I felt something on my back, something was still holding me down. Hortense pulled a piece of a ‘palm tree’ from the back of my diving suit. It was the sculpture that wouldn’t let me go. The underwater forest tried to imprison my mind and my body.
When we returned to the beach, I asked Hortense about the weird and scary noise that provoked my panic. She explained that it was coming from the big yachts many miles away. ‘This is why dolphins left these places. The noise scares them’, sighed Hortense.
That thrilling event suddenly unlocked the thoughts behind Forlane 6 Studio’s art. Both Hortense and Mathieu are concerned about the modern lifestyle and the impact it has on the environment, especially how it affects the marine world. We sincerely hope that their work can make the sea be perceived differently and raise the awareness of the impact it could have on all of us.