March 03, 2018

Marianne Eigenheer

I discovered this week that the great artist and my friend Marianne Eigenheer has passed away. Marianne has been a constant support in the work of Bury Art Museum since 2006. We met that year in Reykjavik at an Alan Johnson exhibition at Safn. We actually met at the exhibition, but it turned out when we started talking that her first encounter with me had been earlier. She was walking up the main street and passed my hotel. My first time in Iceland, I was wondering how warmly one needed to dress. The hotel room window only opened ajar, so I pushed my arm out to test the temperature and Marianne, below, was fascinated by this hand inexplicably waving in the air from an upstairs window.
In Bury we have shown (and have in the permanent collection) her beautifully poetic line drawings, and her video-drawing “Dancing Chairs and a Walking Woman” originally in the Irony of Flatness in 2008 and again as part of the Foreigners exhibition last year.
Marianne was endlessly well connected in the art world and I met a lot of interesting artists through her. Her generosity of spirit was a defining characteristic. She was a great support of young artists. Each year her house in Basel filled with artists and curators staying over to see the Art Fair. I did it twice. She attended every Text Festival in Bury, offering support and connecting it to other actions and developments around the world.
I remember going to Wiesbaden in 2009 specially for the opening of her drawing show at the Galerie Hafemann; at the time I think she felt that the artworld was rediscovering her, the phenomena of older women artists being re-evaluated and celebrated. 
Her last activity at Bury was as the senior artist-mentor at the Bury Summer School in 2014. She worked with the participants to create an imaginary Bury Biennial 
As part of this, the last thing we did together was a panel discussion in Bury Sculpture Centre.

I see her work every day - 2 large drawings adorn our bedroom and 2 etchings from the 1970's hang in the bathroom.

Although we stayed in contact, this was the last time I saw her. Her work was more and more in demand, there more shows and more attention from younger artists whom she loved to support and help. She was diagnosed with cancer but continued to work. Even as late as November last year she was excited about a big drawing success in a show at Kunstmuseum Basel. I last spoke to her in January when she talked about being so tired but hopeful of getting back to work soon. 

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