How did the commission for the bust of Carl Linnaeus come about?
In 2007, when my mother was working in the Botanical Garden archives, she pointed out to me that the Linnaean Society of Bordeaux was preparing a series of events to commemorate the tercentenary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus. Thanks to her and a painter friend of ours, Catherine Bouyx, I was put in touch with the Linnaean Society who immediately showed interest in the project of a bronze bust.
Were you previously familiar with the work of Linnaeus?
Not really. It was interesting for me to discover it all.
|Lucie Geffré modelling the bust in clay.|
I read about Linnaeus and looked for all the images that could be found to know what he looked like. There are some old paintings and sculptures that represent him, but even with that information you can’t really know exactly what his features were like. So that allowed me a margin of freedom of interpretation.
|The clay model upon |
First I did a metal armature strong enough to support quite a large amount of clay. Then I modelled the bust in clay: that was the longest part of the process. After that, I built up a silicone and resin mould that covered the clay bust. Once finished and removed, that mould was used in the foundry for the lost wax bronze casting.
What partners were involved in creating the final bust?
The Linnaean Society of Bordeaux, especially Georges Pasquier who was very helpful in every step, the Cyclopes foundry in Libourne (now in Mérignac) who did the lost wax casting as well as the patina, and the project was financed by the Linnaean Society of Bordeaux, Bordeaux City Hall, the Swedish Embassy and IKEA.
|The artist and foundry have left their mark on the bust!|
In October 2007 the ‘Esplanade Linné’ was inaugurated and the bust unveiled by the Swedish Ambassador to France.
Can you describe how it now feels to have one of your works on permanent display in your home city?
I feel really lucky I was given the chance to carry out the project and it’s wonderful having the bust there, especially as the Botanical Garden is such an interesting place.
I go now and then and the bust actually looks quite different each time as the patina evolves over the years.
Finally, what are your current projects?
Nowadays I paint more than I sculpt and I’m preparing two exhibitions of my paintings in Madrid: a group show in a gallery and a solo show in the Circulo de Bellas Artes.
- Find it: Esplanade Linné, Bordeaux.
- You can see more of Lucie Geffré's fine work by visiting her official website at www.luciegeffre.com (source of the picture above) and the associated blog at www.luciegeffre.blogspot.com
Thank you to Lesley Graham for the message which indirectly resulted in this interview taking shape!