Meeting Bay (“La Baie de la Rencontre”), by Emmelene Landon
Meeting Bay transports the reader to Australia, through the characters of George, a contemporary painter, and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, an illustrator who undertook this journey two centuries before him.
Painter and Author
Emmelene Landon was born in Australia in 1963. Having lived in London and New York, she moved to Paris in 1979 and enrolled at the Beaux-Arts in 1986. (2017.)
A painter and writer, Emmelene Landon likes to switch between mediums, the canvas and the novel, depending on her mood. She regularly exhibits her paintings from Paris to New York, and as far as Beijing. In 2003, she published a travel narrative, Around the World in a Container Ship (“Le Tour du monde en porte-conteneurs”), then turned to the novelistic form and wrote one after the other: The Journey to Vladivostok (“Le Voyage à Vladivostok”), Portrait(s) of George (“Portrait(s) de George”),The Blind Stain (“La Tache aveugle”) and Meeting Bay (2017).
A surprising travel tale
Meeting Bay addresses the theme of return to the homeland, through a powerful, sensory narrative. George, a native Australian, is an artist and researcher. Driven by a desire to see his country once more, the narrator embarks on a long journey, guided by his intellectual idol Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, a naturalist and illustrator who was part of a scientific expedition to Australia organised by Bonaparte in the early nineteenth century.
Each day, as a geologist, George observes, takes notes, collects samples of the land that bore him... until his sister suddenly dies. A tragic event that will carry him to Tasmania.
In George’s Skin
Meeting Bay is Emmelene Landon’s second book featuring the character of George. In the first, Portrait(s) of George, published in 2013, the writer sketched an initial image of this artist who resembles her. To give him even more life, she endows him, in Meeting Bay, with her passion for Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, with whom she identifies due to his young age and fresh outlook on the country.
This is an admiration which she revealed in 2008, when she organized an exhibition at Le Havre’s National Museum of Natural History in which her own paintings and Lesueur’s drawings were presented side by side.
A long-term traveller
Emmelene Landon is an unusual traveller. As far as the destination is concerned, it is the journey there that matters to her, and as for planes, she prefers long trips on cargo ships that allow her to write and paint.
Long before George, her narrator, she embarked on a return to the southern lands of her childhood in 2015 to write her book.
An experience that brings realism and accuracy to her novel Meeting Bay, written as a travel narrative. The author presents a nostalgic portrait of her country, which she left at the age of 6, but also a historical portrait, recounting a past that has been powerfully shaped by colonialism.
Winner of an Institut français Stendhal Residency, Emmelene Landon was in Australia in 2015.
The Stendhal programme allows French authors or authors living in France to travel to a foreign country and work on a writing project related to that country.