Updated: Jan 16, 2019
~ Michelle Saleeba
In 2017 Christophe Borrel Ducroz participated in the Portrait of a Veteran project. He had as he describes it, "the great honour of painting Peter Aspinall", the State President of the RSLWA. This was an incredible project run by Comet Bay College, a school with strong ties to the Australian Defence community and supported by the RSLWA. Last year Army Art was pleased to have Christophe as a major exhibitor who generously donated the proceeds from the sale of his beautiful work "Pinky Bay, Rottnest Island" to assist our defence charity fundraising.
Christophe's painting Pinky Bay Rottnest Island on display at Army Art 2018
I caught up with Christophe for a chat after the exhibition last year, just as he was heading off to France for a painting trip and to explore exhibition and representation opportunities around his beloved Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.
Having served in the French national service, Christophe has a sound understanding of what it is like to serve in the military and transition back to the civilian world. The mission of our 2018 beneficiary Working Spirit to assist Australian veterans to establish themselves in civilian careers, resonated with Christophe, who has not only built a new career but in some ways a new identity since leaving the French military. For Christophe that has included relocating to a new country, establishing a successful Perth fitness business and becoming an accomplished plein air painter.
Glacier des Bossons
Modestly Christophe describes himself as "just an amateur" who sneaks in a couple of hours of painting during his lunchtime, which would have to be inspiration to work for yourself if ever there was any. He said "I try to paint a bit more during the weekend and regularly go out scouting locations for my plein air work."
When asked about the catalyst to start painting Christophe recounted a time of heartbreak and great personal sadness, and the accompanying experience of loneliness he felt moving through that difficult period. However, the power of creative engagement meant he was able to focus on his artwork, channelling his feelings in such a way that the process of deliberately placing his attention on learning painting techniques and building skills provided a cathartic healing experience.
Rottnest Island series, l-r Pinky Bay, Stairway to Heaven
Since then Christophe has continued building his skills and practicing techniques, mostly with the help of you tube tuition videos, and is developing a distinctive personal style inspired he says, "by the juxtapositions of life and being in my adopted Australian landscape." Painting in oils from what is in front of him give his paintings a freshness, you can almost smell the ocean and mountain air.
For me it's the Chamonix mountain paintings, embodying as they do, Christophe's connection to place and an affecting longing for his homeland, which contain an added poignancy. Combining emotion with a passion to simply paint, Christophe's work is engaging and far from amateur.
Les Grands Charmoz
To learn more of the story behind Portrait of a Veteran and see some of the amazing portrait work watch the youtube video below.