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  • Writer's pictureWayne Sleeth

Projet57: The Moselle between Metz & Thionville

Updated: Mar 2

North of Metz, the Moselle passes through relatively flat land as it enters the industrial north of the region. Some journeys upstream l stuck to the autoroute towards Luxembourg, but on occasional trips l would leave the motorway and follow the river, discovering some interesting sites and viewpoints from where to draw and paint. From the meanderings of the Moselle at St.Julien-les-Metz to Malroy and Olgy and Ars-sur-Moselle, with a surprise stop at Bousse and Blettange, where l never knew there was a château near the banks of the river, an example of another reason l was undertaking such a project; after more than 20 years in Lorraine, art has always been my vehicle for keeping alert to new discoveries and sensations. An artist's vision should not just be a question of seeing, but looking. I say that we should always have the eye of a tourist, even close to home. And the Lorraine region was my adopted home.

Above : the Moselle at Malroy (watercolour) and a sketch + watercolour of Château de Blettange.


A little further upstream we enter industrial Moselle, the redundant furnace U4 at Uckange in the distance. This is the part of the french Moselle that was the foundation for so much immigrant labour and industrial production in the last century; coal, iron, steel. All that remains is the melting pot of diverse communities here; polish, italian, turkish, portugese...

A typical traffic jam on the A31 one afternoon, longer than usual, forced me to stop completely on a road bridge over the Moselle near Bertrange. I had the time to photograph the view - and even begin a sketch - at the wheel ! Once the accident was cleared, l decided to leave the motorway steaight away and head back under the road bridge towards Guénange-Bas, a village on the Moselle with a view of two bridges and the distant foundry called U4 on the horizon.

This was a spontaneous choice, and not neccesarily clear as to what it had to offer. It was far from 'picturesque". But l was drawn to it, the man-made bridging the natural, and after a sketch and a watercolour between heavy showers, back at the studio l ran a small series of etchings of the view. With each pressing l varied the experience of the bad weather l encountered. What l now call the 'Guénange Suite', is one of the episodes in the Moselle journey that l am most pleased with. An echo of childhood memories back on the Humber estuary perhaps, or the series of London paintings by Monet of Charing Cross Bridge...


The Guénange Suite


Another now-important stop-off was the small town of Illange where l showed three pieces of work linked to my Moselle project during the Salon d'Automne in november 2023. In the same town, in the small but immaculate artspace la Chapelle de St.Roch, l return for a solo show of a wider selection of work, as always entitled 'Projet57', the weekend of 20-21 april, with a vernissage the friday 19th at 6pm. You are more than welcome !


Thionville, the last small city in France before the Luxembourg, Belgian and German borders, was in the distance. Back onto the motorway, which of course was not there for Turner when he advanced north towards the Rhine in 1824...


It is here in Thionville, at the In Vitro espace d'exposition, that l will be showing a large selection of my Projet57 work - sketches, watercolours, etchings and paintings - from the 20th to 28th of march 2024, a sixth travelling show along the Moselle, and one of many in this bicentenary year.

For more information on the Thionville and Illange exhibitions in the spring of 2024, see 'Events' on the main website, here at www.waynemsleeth.com


See you soon. See you there !

W.

Feb.2024

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