Marie Ducaté

Residency logbook
June 2021

Résidences de création - Garzon/Uruguay
2007 et 2008 : Revelaciones
2020 : El amor en los nueves
Commanditaire privé : Francis Mallmann

 Meeting Francis Mallmann, and art residencies in Garzon/Uruguay.

Following a report by Marie-France Boyer for The World of Interiors, produced in my Marseille studio, I was able to meet Francis Mallmann under the auspices of earth and fire, common materials in our work in cuisine and ceramics, and thanks to common themes we share, like the relationship between nature and the body, beauty and eroticism. 

“Always keep an eye on the fire; be one with the fire." - Francis Mallmann

“I always cook in remote places, in the wild, and with fire. My motto is: quit your chair, get off your couch, leave your office, go out and discover the world. Starting a fire is a bit like making love." - Francis Mallmann

Francis Mallmann is a leading figure along the Riviera in Uruguay. The Argentino-Uruguayan restaurateur works in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, José Ignacio, Miami, and Lacoste, France.

The chef, poet, designer and musician is an aesthete. Trained in French gastronomy, for twenty years he’s been developing his own cuisine and new sites to work in, and organizing culinary events across the globe.

He’s passionate about cooking with wood-fueled fire in the wild. His cuisine includes seven types of fire: chapa (a grill or cast-iron griddle), “little hell” (cooking above and below direct heat), parilla (traditional barbecue), wood-fired oven, rescoldo (cooked in coal), asador (whole pieces laid flat, facing the flames) and caldero (cooking in a cauldron).

“Before the fire, we fall in love, recite poems, spend time with friends, dream, and cook.” - Francis Mallmann

Francis Mallmann


In 2007, he invited me to make ceramics for a wall of his hotel at a two-month residency in Garzon, Uruguay.

I sent him sketches of a proposed frieze, including a poem by Alejandra Pizarnik and nudes amidst Uruguayan vegetation.

Preparatory drawings: 2007 residency


The town of Garzon, in Uruguay, is set 35-kilometers inland, between green hills and valleys dense with vegetation, wild, aromatic flowers and thick-leaved trees.

Garzon is a sleepy town (200 residents) of one-story, lime-white houses, connected to nowhere, built around a large, incongruous plaza with lawns, palm trees, hedges and fountains, where a bust of Uruguay’s national hero José Artigas sits enthroned.

Since the Garzon sawmill shut down several decades ago, its mostly visited by dogs, horses and sometimes chickens. 

Francis Mallmann set up a workshop for my residency. He had a large kiln shipped in from Germany and bought clay; I brought my Lhospied glaze.

Town - Studio, Garzon, Uruguay


Upon arrival, I was confronted with a major technical difficulty: the clay was not degassed, and even with an assistant I wasn’t able to remove all the bubbles.

What next? I was there for two months; I didn’t have time to resupply.

So I took the chance of sculpting the clay, in full knowledge of the risk of cracks and breakage during firing with a clay that retained bubbles.

Modeling the 2007 sculptures


The smaller pieces fired with no damage. The large pieces unsurprisingly broke.

Firing, cracks, and breakage: Garzon 2007


Faced with these vestige-works, the idea of embedding the fragments in cement in a playful reference to the Japanese art of Kintsugi allowed Francis Mallmann to first place them in his house in Garzon, then in his Buenos Aires restaurant.

Kintsugi frieze, in situ installation


In Garzon, Francis Mallmann fosters the art of living. My art residency was peppered with delicious culinary moments and meetings, and a warm, elegant, shared life.

The art of living


In 2008, I returned to Uruguay to continue my two-month residency with the right materials. This time, Francis Mallmann had the clay shipped in from my supplier in Aubagne, and I resumed modeling my sculptures for the façade and interior of his hotel.

The firing went perfectly, the entire set was glazed. The exploration of Kintsugi joints from 2007 was prolonged with the concrete becoming a support for the glazed sculptures.

The ceramic works, in conversation with the poem by Alejandra Pizarnik, were installed in situ.

2008 residency, Revelaciones friezes, in situ installations


I completed the art residency with ceramics workshops for a few children from the town and employees at the hotel.

2008 residency, studio classes


Francis Mallmann opened a restaurant at Domaine de Lacoste, in Provence, so we met again in France.

He invited me back to Garzon to make a ceramic light fixture. We decided to continue with nudes, unglazed figures on glazed clouds.

So I drew nudes on clouds, lemons, and flowers, thinking of Hokusai in particular.

2020 residency: preparatory drawings


I departed in September 2020 for a new two-month residency in Uruguay.

“I had to change my ticket three times before I got special permission from the Ministry to enter the country, which was not impacted by Co-vid. The country is blessed: 3 million residents, magnificent scenery and I’m surrounded by all sorts of birds. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to spot a nandu (rhea) while biking in the evening.For now, my assistant Nicole and I have prepared the test tiles for the glaze, and we’re starting to model for the light fixture.”

Excerpt from the journal of Marie Ducaté

A new studio had been built for the new residency, with a little detached house for me to live in.

The kiln was renovated, an enormous worktable was set up at the studio, a ton of clay was brought in by boat from Aubagne five months prior to my residency.

My residency notebook was filled with technical information, trial tiles of fired glazes, and notes and photos.

2020 residency: context


Francis Mallmann is a lover of life, a man that likes to share. At this time, off-season for tourists, a kitchen set up in the studio provided him the opportunity to cook meals on the wood-burning stove while I modeled clay, and we spent many unforgettable moments with his entire team. There was a lot of laughing with Francis, Adrian, Beatriz, Nicole, Walter, Muneca, Adriana, and all the friendly people I met in Garzon.

All the pieces were in place for me to create intertwined, loving, bewildered, soft nudes on beds of grey cloud to brighten the indoor skies of Francis Mallmann.

I was hosted with generosity and care. A wonderful experience.

“Every day, Francis Mallmann comes and adds something to the studio, which is becoming a home, with a bed, kitchen, fridge, shelves and materials.
On all sides of the enormous table, two different worlds come together.”

Excerpt from the journal of Marie Ducaté

2020 residency: Francis Mallmann in the studio kitchen


While the big pieces were drying, I had the time to create five small chandeliers, vases, and numerous other pieces, as well as a large chandelier.

I was also able to pass my knowledge on to Nicole Tuvi, Francis Mallmann’s assistant, who I trained in making glazed earthenware, such that she could keep on working in my absence.

A workshop I ran for children introduced them to clay modeling.

2020 residency: works


This residency provided me with the opportunity to explore the countryside on long bike rides, and to delight in the discovery of birds and flowers.

“Garzon is a small town dear to my heart. Each evening, after work, I rode its paths on my bicycle, taking in the immense meadows marked by eucalyptus, acacia, ombu and ceibo and other trees, and the ponds to which thousands of birds arrive each morning and evening. Town residents working for Francis Mallmann came to see me at my studio and taught me the names of the birds and flowers. The studio and the house are in a garden of eucalyptus, coronilla and a number of other trees inhabited by insects and birds.”

Excerpt from the journal of Marie Ducaté



Translation: Elaine Krikorian