The works of Leïla Rose Willis are born of “space-time crossings,” moments when listening and observation are essential. During and after her travels, she reconstructs her memories, sometimes rescuing them from oblivion and revisiting them, even as she focuses on the details that escape our distracted gaze. Her stays and trips are thus at the foundation of her work.
The drawings which Leïla Rose Willis produced during her residency at the Sémaphore du Créac’h arise directly from the walks she took on the island of Ouessant. Because of the island’s micro-climate, its delicate flora can also withstand severe weather conditions. On returning from her wanderings on the island’s coastal roads, Leïla Rose Willis used Indian ink to draw this flora from memory. As in a log book or travel diary, these drawings reflect her discoveries and the path ― or paths, rather ― she followed on this island. Her decision to work on a ten meter long and thirty centimetre wide scroll of Chinese paper gives a sense of the passage of time during her stay, as one day followed another. This avalanche of paper recalls the island’s maze of winding footpaths, while its layout also evokes the oceanic waves and whirling waters the island and its inhabitants are constantly confronted to.
The density of plant species finds an echo in the rippling paper, but with their winding layout and abundance, these cannot be seen or clearly perceived at a glance. Leïla Rose Willis “(thus) seeks to give shape to the remains of an elsewhere”, renewing our way of seeing by appealing to “our capacity for creating assemblages and associations”. A poem composed of drawings, the herbarium she created on the island of Ouessant constitutes an index of her many-shaded floral memories. Leïla Simon is an independent exhibition curator and co-organizes events in a contemporary art gallery in Chambon-sur-Lignon, l’Espace d’art contemporain Les Roches.