In Arcadia: the British in France
Exhibition of photographs In Arcadia: the British in France by Terence Wright
12-14 November 2018. Visual Research Conference, Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA), Hammer
Theater Center, San Jose, California, USA.
the Arcadians are not so much warned of an implacable future as they are immersed in mellow meditation of a beautiful past. Erwin Panofsky
It is estimated that there are over 150,000 British people living in France. While the majority live in Paris, others are widely distributed across the hexagon. In comparison to other British ex-pats in European locations (e.g. the costal resorts of Spain), those settled in France express less of a desire to establish a Little England (English pubs, fish & chip venues, etc.) and more of a tendency to learn the French language and integrate with the local population.
There are a number of reasons why people have decided to migrate: economic migration, lifestyle migration, education, arts and culture or the search for a warmer climate. While some have seen their move as expedient from a practical point of view, others have taken a more romantic approach, seeing France as offering something of a rural idyll. Some express a yearning for an imagined past: Its how England used to be 30 years ago. However this vision of Arcadia is now under the threat of Brexit, leaving British citizens entirely in the dark over their future status.
The photographs on exhibition are portraits of British citizens currently living in the Vienne department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in western France. The images concentrate on people, their houses and the small environments that the British have shaped for themselves: the buildings they have chosen to make their dwellings and the subsequent modifications they have implemented.
Terence Wright PhD
Emeritus Professor of Visual Arts
Belfast School of Art
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