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Zone Rouge

Yet again our little cinema offered this documentary by Laetitia Moreau & Olivier Dubuquoy. It was about the production of Aluminium at Gardanne.

Gardanne is a sleepy town which lies to the north of the Calanques which is the beautiful rocky region which runs along the south coast  to the east and west of Marseille. We have passed through it on the train to Marseille. The presence of the Aluminium works dominates the area. We remarked on the red dust covering the vehicles around the station area. Little did we realise what was hidden behind the hills surrounding the town.

In the documentary we see an areal view which is like an alien landscape with its red mountains and lake.

Aluminium is not a metal which is found in its pure form. It is always found imbedded in bauxite. Bauxite is mined along the Equator. The process of extracting the aluminium is the problem. It takes 30 to 40 tons of bauxite  to create a single ton of aluminium. The material left behind is full of toxins.  The plant at Gardanne was set up in 1963 and the mountains and lakes of residue have been building ever since. At one time it it was decided to create a tunnel from the production plant to the Mediterranean and flush the red lake through into the sea. This was done for many years causing the fish in the area to die at worst but to live with a coating of red dust at best. The fishermen were irate but they were powerless against the might of the aluminium producers. Eventually the practice was stopped but the mountains of red dust grow ever higher in Gardanne while the great minds of Europe try to work how how to make it disappear and the area of the Mediterranean sea where the effluent rushed out for years is now dead.

For those of you who understand french here is a link to the documentary:

Pour ceux d’entre vous qui comprennent le français, voici un lien vers le documentaire

What is to be done? The other metals could be extracted from the residue but that would be too costly so the mountains grow ever higher. The documentary interviewed some of the people living in the area who talked about their own ill health and that of their neighbours. The number of cancers among the people in the immediate area of the plant is very high but no one seems to be paying attention. The French government talk about the loss of jobs in the area if the plant closes but no one is talking about the fishermen who cannot fish the area where the red liquid killed the fish. No one is talking about the people dying of cancers which are apparently being caused by the red dust which whips up when the Mistral blows.

France needs aluminium but it does not need this growing mountain of bouxide as it is called. Over the years the authorities have tried to come up with names for the toxic material which are less alarming but the fact remains people are being poisoned by this material.

A solution needs to e found at a worldwide level or at the very least at a European level.

11 Dec 2016

Graduate exhibition on Sherkin Island: Uncover

This BA degree in Visual Arts is an outreach course which takes place on Sherkin Island off the south west coast of Ireland. It is the only outreach degree of this kind in the country and has been running for many years.

The idea of the course is to give students, especially islanders, who missed out on a university education when they were younger, the chance to return to college to pursue a degree qualification in the arts. Because of their diverse backgrounds the students bring a wealth of talent and experience to this course. The competition for places grows year on year. The resultant standard is extremely high.

Seventeen students submitted their final degree projects this year. The students present their work in various locations around the island.  This exhibition is open to the public. The 2016 exhibition is entitled Uncover.

I was unable to visit every student’s work so apologies to those whose work I was unable to see.

Much of the work is concerned with conceptual art. I have rarely been so moved by work as I was by that of Lesley Cox. She investigates the connection we all have to the uterus.

Lesley Cox

Lesley Cox

Lesley Cox

Lesley Cox

Other work, which I found outstanding, was Imagination-Emigration by Philomena Smith. The work represents this idea by linking Philomena’s life in the textile industry to her sense of misplacement or not belonging.

Philomena Smith

Philomena Smith

Detlef Schlich’s work, also struck me as very professional. It consisted of a film installation in three parts. The work is concerned with developing an alter ego. His work can be seen here

Deidre Buckley Cairns was a stained glass artist before she started her A Visual Arts course and this influenced her final project. This is about the link between colour and memory.

Deidre Buckley Cairns

Deidre Buckley Cairns

Other beautiful work included Brigid Madden’s project on the invisibility of displaced people in our world

Bridget Madden

Brigid Madden

Bridget Madden

Brigid Madden

Although many students used photography in their exhibits there was only one photographic project and this was the work of Jean Dunne which was truly stunning.

Jean Dunne

Jean Dunne

Since much of the work was conceptual it was tricky to photograph. One such project was Whispers by Daireen McMullan.This was about how the wallpaper is a witness to our secrets and our hidden lives. the room was dark with only a single lamp. It made me shiver to enter this space. The silhouette of the child struck me as meaningful so I left him in as he is not recognisable.


Lucy Cox’s work is concerned with environmental, political and spiritual elements.

Lesley Cox

Lucy Cox

Some of the images I made did nto do justice to the students work so I have not included them – for that I apologise.

25 May 2016

Argentina: St Martin

From Pucon in the lake district of Chile we took a bus across the border to Argentina. There are only one or teo mountain passes across the border in this area and only one over which buses can pass.


A  novel breakfast publicity poster


Fellow passengers reflected in the bus before the ‘off’


A rather spoiled young fellow passenger uses the seat as a foot rest. She didn’t provide us with nose pegs….


We stop at the border to allow us to change money to Argentinian pesos


The money changing ‘shop’


The Argentinian border post


Barry trying to escape at the border…..


Great cafe on arrival in St Martin


Reminded me of the sixties


Lots of upmarket shops


Very PC dolly display


St Martin through a ‘photo op’ bill board….


The ‘Dublin’ pub where we had an apero one evening.


The lake in the early morning


The lake again – the guy is metal detecting…


St Martin is 2212kma from somewhere on the route 40


These lovely guys were wanting to be elected..


24 Feb 2016

Pucon images

Pucon is situated on lake Caburga. Villarica volcano is visible from all over the town. It smokes continually and at night the rim glows red with flames leaping up from time to time. I did not have the correct camera gear to capture this but you will just have to believe me we did see this phenomena.

We took a lovely trip on the lake

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17 Jan 2016

Heurquehue Park near Pucon

Pucon is situated on another beautiful lake with its very own volcano. This volcano spat out red flames during the night. I tried to photograph it but did not have the correct lens nor a tripod so the result was unsatisfactory but I’ll show it anyway in another blog.

For this blog I want to show images of the park we visited about twenty kilometers from Pucon

If you cannot see the slideshow click here

9 Jan 2016