Darling Newhaven Resident: Alexia Laferté-Coutu

ESW is delighted to have Alexia Laferté-Coutu as the first resident in the Darling Newhaven exchange. This is the first year of a three year exchange programme that aims to connect Scottish and Quebec based artists and organisations, facilitating cultural and knowledge exchange.

Since her arrival in Edinburgh Laferté-Coutu has been documenting and researching historic wells in Edinburgh.

“My interest in curative wells is connected to some previous research sites. The wells – in Scotland especially- have gone through different eras and the meanings associated with them have transformed over time. Drawing on the notion of metamorphosis and the process of obscuring the original object/ imprint while transferring the form from one material to another, I am wondering-can the sculptural intervention and the resulting work generate new narratives? As the myths surrounding  these places die out or transform, what remains there? How do these ancient curative meanings translate into our present?”

“I have an ongoing process of taking moulds of particular sites, where there is a historical charge. One site leads me  to the other, so, in a way, my sculptural work connects them to another. During a residency in London (UK) in 2019, I was inspired by  19th century drinking fountains connected to the hygienist wave. That nourished a particular interest in architectural structures that once acted as healing vectors. Then, in 2022, I presented a body of work stemming from a series of imprints taken upon the stones of Sanatoriums in  Quebec (Canada)”


“During my time here I am focusing on two wells for my clay imprints interventions: St. Bernard’s Well and St. Margaret’s Well. St. Bernard’s Well was connected to a source of high-sulfur water (or “Sulfur Vive” according to a 1782 treatise), and was used from 12th century until the early 20th century to treat a variety of ailments. St Margaret’s Well was formerly connected to a spring for curing  vision disorders.”

“The work I am creating here is part of a longer-term project, and I  don’t have expectations as to how many pieces I’ll end up making. I am here to experiment, and most importantly, to learn. Bronze facilities I know often don’t let you take part in the casting/ pouring process as much as here, at ESW. I am extremely grateful to be in this special place. This process is laborious and it’s a chance to be able to experience it, from the beginning to the end. I extract clay imprints from the site, and from these imprints I create plaster moulds in which the positive of the building reappears. I then brush on the wax in the plaster, layer by layer, and remove it from the mould. I will  then cast thin wax pieces in bronze using the sand casting technique.”

I would like to pursue this project when I am back to Montreal. I want to develop this project by integrating new research sites in Quebec, including mineral water sources. In so doing, I hope to create parallels (mineral composition of the water) between wells and curative springs used at different times and in different places(Scotland, Quebec). While in residency in Chicoutimi (Canada) in spring 2024, I want to cast bronze pieces from the moulds I created here in Edinburgh. I would also like to test different patinas, using the type of minerals associated to the water sources in order to activate the surface of the sculptures.

I will present some of my work in progress here at ESW on 24 November 2023.”

Alexia Laferté-Coutu lives and works in Montreal. Her sculptures and assemblages reveal a dialog between constructed histories and somatic, sensorial experiences. Originating with the pressing of fresh clay ‘poultices’ onto the stones of historical buildings and monuments, her works become records; recuperating and transmuting the intentional and residual aspects of her source material. Laferté-Coutu has studied at Concordia University, the Bauhaus Universität Weimar, and Université du Québec à Montréal. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, South Korea and the UK.

Alexia Laferte-Coutu – Work in Progress Event

24 November 6-8 pm

Creative Labs

Since her arrival at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop Laferté-Coutu has been documenting and researching St Bernard’s and St Margaret’s Wells, historic sites of healing, in Edinburgh. Using her ongoing process of taking imprints in clay from particular sites, she has been making moulds of details of the wells’ architecture.

This ambitious project is still in the development stage and Laferté-Coutu will continue to make casts from the moulds made in Edinburgh when she returns to Montréal where she will then assemble these amorphous fragments to create large-scale bronze sculptures.

This event is a chance to become familiar with her process and to see her work in this transitional state between conception and realisation, where a multiplicity of meanings and forms exist rather than the singularity of an organic totality.

You can discover more about her work here.

Additional project information can be found here, including the project funders.

Images: Intervention at St. Bernard’s Well, Edinburgh, c. Alexia Laferté Coutu

Our partners for this project at Darling Foundry in Montréal and Hospitalfield in Scotland.

This programme has been generously funded by the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Creative Scotland,  British Council Scotland, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec, Culture et Communications Quebec, St Andrews Society of Montréal.



Logos of ESW, Hospitalfield, and project funders for the Darling Newhaven project in Canada and the UK.