Michel Braibant Museum/ Conservatory of Book Arts & Crafts

“Until I feared to lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”  – Harper Lee

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives but one.” – Georger R.R. Martin

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury

 

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Le musée

 

 

When my friend Yvonne pops over from London, we often find ourselves off to explore. This particular adventure was back to Montolieu – Village du Livre (Village of Books).

While I could spend endless days in the beautiful village of books, we had a limited amount of time this trip and the museum was the focus of this trip. If you would like to see more of the village, I recommend checking out my post of 12/12/2011. Or best of all, visit Montolieu yourself!

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Located in Montagne Noir (Black Mountains) this small village (pop: 1,400) has 23 bookshops. Each Autumn, they host an ancient book festival. Naturally, as one might expect, such a village is popular with artists and there are a number of small galleries.

Le musée traces the history of print from Pictographs to the Alphabet, from Clay to Paper and the invention of Typography (1454), Linotype (1884), Monotype (1887), Stanhope Press (early 19th century) and so much more.

30,000 BCE: Pictographs are pictures and symbols and represent the first written forms. Concepts are represented by figures and scenes.

4,000 BCE: Ideograms/ideographs are a logographic writing system in which graphic symbols are used to represent words. They originated in Egypt and China where ideograms evolved into its current stylised script system.

1,300 BCE: The Phoenicians invent and disseminate the first alphabet. A limited number of letters that they allowed for the formation of sounds.

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1,000 BCE: The Greeks adopt the Phoenician alphabet that they then adapt to their language by introducing vowels.

700 BCE: The Latin or Roman alphabet appears as an adaption of the Etruscan alphabet which had been borrowed from Greek colonists in Italy. Today, the Latin alphabet is the most widely used in the world.

The earliest materials for writing were stones, shells, wood and even tortoiseshells.

4,000BCE: Mesopotamian clay and the tool used was the “calame” or reed stylus.

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3,000 BCE: Egyptian papyrus, a plant found along the banks of the Nile. The “calame” or stylus is made from a blend of soot and resin.

200 BCE: Parchment, is animal skin (goat, calf, sheep…) which has been specially prepared for writing. The writing tool of tis period is a goose feather quill. Ink is made from a compound of vegetable and mineral pigments with egg white as a binding agent.

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105 CE: Paper was invented in China by Ts’ai Lun. It was made from vegetable fibre which was reduced to a paste. The process stayed a secret until 751 CE and later introduced in Europe by the Arabs.

Middle Ages: The majority of the population was illiterate and books were rare and precious objects. Therefore, the thoughts they contained were not widely known. In monasteries, monks copied and recopied  the manuscripts with each copy errors

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compounded and diminished the original meaning of the text.

1454 Invention of Typography:

The German metal-worker/inventor, Johann Gutenberg combined lead, antimony and tin creating an alloy which could be used repeatedly. Gutenberg is generally credited with perfecting metal moveable type.

Linotype: Invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1884 and

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produced solid lines of text case from rows of matrices. The line-composing operation was accomplished by means of a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter. However, it was much faster than hand-set typesetting and permitted the wide circulation of printed material. It was primarily used for the composition of newspapers.

Monotype: Another type of hot metal composition which appeared in 1887.

Stanhope Press: This press appears at the beginning of the 19th century, and consists of a massive cast-iron frame. It replaces wood presses, but

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impressions are still made page by page and inking remains manual.

Plate Press: This press appears in the middle of the 19th century and increases the speed at which printed matter can be produced. The carriage is flat and pedal-driven and rubber ink rollers. It is fed manually.

Heidelberg Press: Appears in the early 20th century. With its high speed cylinder press and an automatic feeding and placing device which pivoting racks pick

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up the paper by the use of suction to the entire surface.

Nebiolo Cylinder Press: First appears in the 1940’s. The base is no longer vertical and fixed, but horizontal and mobile. Print form moves under the cylinder to which the paper is attached.

Lithography: Makes its appearance in the late 18th century  and gives birth to Offset in the 20th century. This method is based on the chemical repellence of oil and water.

Massicot: This cutting device was perfected by Claude Massicot and allows for clean cuts for reams of paper.

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As you might easily imagine, there is much more to see in this museum than can be covered here in a single post.  If you plan to visit the south of France, a trip to Montolieu is well worth the visit.

Bisous,

Léa

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Bookpress
Bookpress
Alphabet
Alphabet
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Making art accessible to the masses

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A black cat in Montmartre

If one is to be Le Chat Noir, this is the part of France to be. Alas, my Chat Noir is down on the Mediterranean with me and two sister felines (not black).

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In the old days, Montmartre was the end of some Metro lines. “Direction Montmartre”. Not any more. It’s actually hard to find the appropriate station to go to “Matha’s hill”. I recommend Lamarck-Caulaincourt. No stairs, just walk up from the back. (The first half of this post has just been wiped out by WP. Grrr. Start from scratch. Patience, patience.)

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Le chat noir, the black cat, has become a symbol of Montmatre. Who doesn’t have this sketch on a mug? A cabaret, it was founded by Rodolphe Salis in 1881. It soon drew a crowd of artists and “bohemians”, establishing the reputation of the “hill” as a haven for artists, then and now.

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Sleeping angel. Montmartre, 2018.

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Urban strawberries. Strawberries? Seriously? Yes. Check the leaves. (Do not expect any kind of logic here. This is a Montmartre Pot-pourri)

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Le théâtre du chat noir. To lure…

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Boris Vian

Another treasure from Pascale. Merci mon amie!

Learn French with Pascale

When I was a teenager, Boris Vian was my favourite author. I collected his books – I have 41- and had a photo of him on my bedroom wall right next to Charles Baudelaire. I loved him because he was a very versatile person. He was a writer, a poet, a musician, a singer, a translator and many more things. I loved his sense of humour and the way he manipulated the language, I still love it of course!

Boris Vian was born in 1920 and died of a heart attack in 1959.  He had always suffered ill health and knew that he would die at a young age. He was good friend with Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus with whom he like spending time in the Café des Deux Magots in Saint-Germain des Prés in Paris.

During his lifetime Boris Vian was not a very successful author and musician…

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La Belle Époque 1871 – 1914… on the street where I live

Recently, I offered a post on the street where I live. As I went through some older photos, later, I found two that I had made off old postcards, on the same street more than a century ago. I thought perhaps some of you would enjoy seeing them.

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If I am correct, my home should be just past that group of people seen exiting, or perhaps entering, a house mid-way on the left.  While the foot bridge has a set of steps in each direction, the other side is not visible from this view. It is the second set of steps that appear further back that exist today as you can see if you check out the post of 5 August 2018. Inbetween the sets of stairs, you can see the old pump which still exists, and works, though rarely used.   

If you look closely at the road, you can see some tracks for the old train that used to come through the village. A neighbor has just informed me that a small steam train ran from Portel des Corbières to Tuchan until the 1930’s. At different points it would connect and one could get into Narbonne which had a large number of trains that could take you to many destinations. 

Some of the houses have interesting patterns on their walls which have long been covered up by renderings. Those patterns would be consistent with the era  As you can see it is winter time as the trees are bare and the people at the top of the staircase appear to be bundled up against the cold weather.

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From this second photo you can see there was an épicerie (grocery) just next to where the café was located at that point in time.  No doubt you could stop in and pick up a fresh baugette with ham and or cheese and a thick spread of butter and wash it down with a glass of wine or beer. That is not where it was when I moved here over a decade ago nor where it is now located at the other end of the village. You get a look at the foot bridge that is no longer there, What you don’t see is that there was attached an outdoor toilet, how appropriate across from where everyone is eating and drinking.  The café in this photo had been altered by its owners years later and for many years served as the village pharmacy. At some time after WWI, a number of balconies where added including the old pharmacy as you can compare if you look at the post referred to earlier. https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/on-the-street-where-i-live-a-challenge/

I can see, to the left, how high the wall along the river used to be. It has been lowered some years ago. As you can see, the wall is higher than most of the people near it. I am barely five feet tall myself and the wall now, in some areas, is little higher than my waist. Before you ask, nothing around here is level so we shall move on.  It appears to be Spring or possibly early Summer as the trees are quite filled out with leaves and some of the citizens are in shirt sleeves. As you can see, everyone is glad of the opportunity to socialize with their neighbors on a beautiful day as the sunlight filters through the trees. I find it fascinating that in these photos could be former owners of my own home.

Perhaps I can find more such photos and if so, I shall share them here on the blog.

 

Bisous,

Léa

L’Art Caché – quatre 2018

Being that this is my favorite art expo of the year, there is a sad parting. Alas, this is to be the last in the series of four posts from L’Art Caché in the charming village of Albas. 

Catherine Juge Thouroude has a number of pieces I enjoyed. Alas, there is neither an email address or website. Once again I shall direct any questions to the fabulous people who bring us this exhibition each year. Eurocultures: https://eurocultures.fr

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There were several additional pieces that the artist delined to be photographed as they were a new variation she was working on. Perhaps at a future date I will find her exhibiting them when I can share the photos? 

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Josiane Coste Coulondre is a textile artist. https://www.artmajeur.com/josianecostecoulondr

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Josiane can also be contacted by email: jococoul@gmail.com

Patricia Maffli: Painter

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I have just checked out her blog. https://patriciamaffli.wordpress.com/ and was thrilled to find much more than what she had brought with her. In addition, she shares her workplace with her sister  who sculpts. Perhaps it would be possible to visit them and create a post on the work of them both? 

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This last photo is from Patricia’s newest collection. I do hope to see more of her work. I should enjoy being alone in a room with just her paintings and my laptop… there are many stories / poems just waiting to be written.

MERCI MILLE FOIS! My sincere thanks to all the talented artists who shared their work and to our friends at Eurocultures for giving us this opportunity each year. Also, I thank all the readers that take a moment to let me know that they enjoyed this  I am already looking forward to next years exposition. 

Bisous,

Léa

 

 

L’Art Caché trois – 2018

If the last two posts haven’t inspired you, perhaps you will find something here?

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Antoine Bonnet creates in wood, stone and earth. Please visit his website and learn more.  http://www.antoine-bonnet.com/

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Oana Damman is one local artist that I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of times over the years. She is inspired by the works of Van Gogh, Cézanne and Chagall. Please take a few moments and visit her website: oana-damman.com You won’t be disappointed.

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Jacques Duault graciously allowed me to photograph his work. Alas, he himself does not care to be photographed. A position I respect and share. Please visit his site: http://jacquesduault.com/

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Gerard Engels is hard at work and grateful for a small amount of shade as it is a very warm morning and the full summer heat is upon us. Alas, there is no website for monsieur Engels. He does offer an email address: gerard.engels@hotmail.com or you could direct questions about him or any of the artists by contacting the gracious hosts at Eurocultures.  https://eurocultures.fr/   You will also find a calendar for upcoming events and information should you want to be included in this event next year or any of their other projects. 

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Albas is such a charming and tranquile village. However, when they put on an exhibition or other event they do themselves proud. Before signing off today, I will share a few more photos from my wandering about. 

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Even the smallest village will have a foyer for indoor events and an outdoor space such as the one above. You don’t see it in this photo but there is a small, shed/kitchen to the left and to the right a large concrete circle often used for dancing under the stars, village feasts… 

 

There are still photos and artists to be shared. There will be one more in this series and I thank you for joining me.

 

Bisous,

Léa

L’Art Caché, deux – 2018

In part two of the “hidden” art expo here in Albas, we begin with sculpture and photos in a charming little courtyard.

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Christian Jacques: Sculpture and Pierre Jammes: Photography

Alas, there is no website for either artist. However, You can find Pierre Jammes on FaceBook and I have an email address for each if you like. chris.jacques@free.fr and pierref.jammes@gmail.com

If you would like additional information about this annual exposition or any of the artists, please visit the site of Eurocultures: https://eurocultures.fr/festival-dart/ They may be able to assist in questions regarding the artists or perhaps you would be interested in showing your own works here. 

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This tiny courtyard with his charming fence is on permanent display. If you go back four or five years ago in these posts, you may find this same village feature. Creativity is everywhere in this lovely little village and imaginations run wild, as they should.

 

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LIFE IN A SUITCASE is the theme of returning artist Anne Sarda. As  one who writes, I love how she gives me inspiration with her instillations.  Her website is user-friendly, and so much is available to spark your creativity. http://annesarda.com/

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As in the previous post, I once again apologize for the uneven subjects. As in my own home, there are few level surfaces and many rooms are not ‘squared’. Additionally, I would never presume to adjust any of the works nor even touch them. I’ve seen a few of the artists setting up and this location and others. They do their best with the surfaces as they are. Despite that, I find their works very worthwhile.

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Léo de Faucher’s work is well worth the trip, wherever it is. Unfortunately there is no available contact information and I highly recommend you direct any questions regarding the art/artist, to Eurocultures (link above). 

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I shall leave you with a few more photos of this lovely little village whose secret places are opened up to us this one weekend a year. Additionally I invite you to join us in the future.

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Alas, as there are a number of photos and more artists to go, I shall be back with part III and possibly part IV… Today is Fête Nationale here in France so I am off until next time, 

Bonne Fête Nationale et Bisous,

Léa

 

L’Art Caché – 2018

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Once again it is that time of year. This two day event is my favorite art exhibit of the year. The charming village of Albas, population 76, is host to two main fetes each year. In the spring is Fete des Moutons with animals penned for the children to interact with, sheep shearing and culminated by a feast, and this Exhibition of “hidden” art which falls the first weekend in July. All through the village, maps provided, you will find small private gardens, courtyards and barns open for that one weekend where the locals offer up their spaces to artists. While a number of the artists are local, many travel a distance to be part of the event.

20180707_140157Florence Zacharie has taken to recycling cardboard. The work exhibited ranges from these small sculptures to a mobile, jewelry and even candle holders. The mobile in the center of this photo is made up of tiny cardboard sculptures. 

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20180707_140108  You can connect with on Facebook. I’m afraid that I am unable to verify that as one must be on FB to access it and I am not.

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The corrugated material forms a most interesting design in her hands.

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A die hard fan of the late, great Jacques Tati and his films, I couldn’t help but fall for the work of Michel Dérosier. Alas, my photos do not do justice to the art or artist. It is my hope that you will take the next step and check out his website including a book he did with the poet, Rémy Boyer. The book titled histoires. http://derosierm.wixsite.com/derosier I am most interested in the book and have exchanged information with the poet who lives only five kilometers from my village.  I do hope to connect soon and would love to have that book…

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Perhaps one day I shall get to Bezieres and visit Michel’s gallery. It could be an entire post of his work and such a treat for me.  No doubt that alone could fill more than one post… not to mention how much I should love to surround myself with his work, 

Several years ago, during this exhibition, my friend Rita happened to be visiting. Of course with her being an artist, I knew she would enjoy this show. Each year, different members of the community will host a bit of café and some treat. On that visit, a family opened their terrace for tea, coffee and some amazing desserts covered in your choice of fresh cherries or peaches. On Saturday, I noticed that the place was for sale. Some lucky person will buy a piece of paradise. The terrace is to the side of a large house and joined by a kitchen which I believe was added on a some point in time. Remember, most of our homes and buildings were built centuries ago. My own house is about 400 years old. 

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All too soon, it will be blackberry season and nature is working toward the big debut. I can taste them already and look forward to my annual stash. I always make sure to freeze some to brighten up a winter meal. 

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After six years of bringing you this exposition, I have nearly given up on attempting to get everything level. I wouldn’t dream of trying to adjust the art and nothing is level here in the hills. I do hope you will forgive me. This artist seems to focus on the villages in the Minevoirs. A friend in London will soon be getting a card of one of his paintings of a café we visited a few years ago. Please visit Denis Carrière on his website and enjoy his work and the other artists featured there. https://www.latelierdesoeurise.fr/denis-carriere/

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While I do attempt to include photos of the artist, some do not like being photographed a feeling I respect, and share. Also, there were a few pieces that I was not allowed to photograph and while I saw a few cameras clicking away, I do respect the rules of the exhibit. If you are ever in the area in early July, I invite you to add this expo to your list of MUSTS! 

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As every year, there is just too much to share and more than I can justify in one post. That being said, I shall return with Part II of this exposition.

Bisous,

Léa

 

Monastère Saint-Paul-de-Mausole and The Dutchman

 

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I had been most anxious to visit this museum/hospital, for some time. When Rita said she wanted to visit the cave projection show, previous post, the plan for her most recent visit took shape. A quiet intuitive individual, I had a feeling that the walls may talk. They do whisper if one is silent and willing to hear.

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Was it wishful thinking or simply artistic license that Van Gogh applied his brushes to create a much more sumptious version of his true quarters? Patients rooms were not decorated with art work and this special guest had access to another room within the hospital for a studio and much of his work was completed on the hospital grounds. Alas, there is no access to his atelier which leads this visitor to believe there is really no trace of it or that it is in the part of the hospital that is still active as a Psychiatric Hospital. 

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Haunted with thoughts of suicide, Van Gogh chose a voluntary admission to the hospital at Saint Remy on 8 May 1889. He would stay there for a year and during this time would restle with bouts of deep depression. During his stay from May 1889-May 1890, he was most prolific in his work and produced a total of 142 pieces including Starry Night, Sunflowers, Irises, and a self-portrait that says so much about the man. If you have a favorite (that is a tough one) you can check to see if it was painted during his time at the hospital at the following site:   http://vggallery.com/painting/by_period/st_remy.htm

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The view from his window of some of the terraced gardens.

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Our visit took place in late October so instead of the stunning flowers that would appear in Spring, we had the lovely colors of autumn. Van Gogh took his inspiration from nature so saw the beauty in all that it offered. 

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Up the steps and just past the chapel, you will find the entrance to where Van Gogh’s room is. While there are other rooms here that once housed patients, those were not open. However, the salle de bains and the kitchen were housed there and I hope you find those photos as interesting as I do.

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The salle de bains (bathroom) is situated directly across the hallway from the entry door to the chambre de Van Gogh. 

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The kitchen, no longer in use, is maintained as it was during the time of Van Gogh.

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An inner courtyard that still had some blooms.

If you enjoyed this at all, I do hope you will check out the book LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A MAN I KNEW by Susan Fletcher. She weaves a beautiful story about Van Gogh and some of the people who actually resided at the hospital at that time. 

On one side of the property we discovered an ancient site for both Greek and Roman villages. There was so much to see there, I fear that it may take more than one post to share some of its secrets. Like here, my camera just gets carried away…

Bisous,

Léa

 

Carrières de Lumières: Underground Art

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The beautiful village of Les Baux-de-Provence is a sparkling jewel yet small. One must visit and explore, inhale and touch with inquisitive hand, eyes and an open mind. With such exploration, her riches are exposed.

During my friend’s visit, Rita, we headed to Provence for a few days. Besides strolling about Saint Remy we each had a #1 must see and Carrières de Lumières was hers. My #1 will be revealed on a future post but this exhibit quickly had me under its spell. 

Step into the cave and be transported deep into the 16th century. Let yourself go and be awakened to the visions of BOSCH, BRUEGHEL and ARCIMBOLDO. This is total immersion from the ceiling of the cave down to the very ground you walk on. Walk about freely, stop and look closely or sit yourself down on one of the stone benches available on the caves outer walls. 

20171026_130057.jpg There isn’t a cultural event, landmark, museum or other National Treasure, where I have not encountered groups of school children on a field trip. They are accompanied by a their teachers, are well mannered, respectful and it is such a delight to witness their awakening and appreciation. 

20171026_131035.jpg Perhaps this photo can give you a small idea of just how vast the cave is. Unfortunately, you are seeing only one small area. The projections seem to dance across the ceiling, walls and even the floor of the cave. 100 projectors syncronised precisely with the sound system provide a seemless experience. I had little idea of what I would encounter but trusted that Rita knew we would both love it. As ususal, she was right and I was stunned. The show itself is not long in duration. Yet after wandering around through several showings, I found myself mesmerized and frozen on one of the benches. If I have the good fortune to return to a future show, I hope I shall be better prepared camera wise. What you will see here is from my little smartphone camera as my trusty old point and shoot had run out of batteries. Furthermore, I am unaccustomed to trying to capture stills of a moving target in near absolute darkness. I do hope it gives you of an idea of what a magnificent exhibit it is and perhaps schedule some time to view one of the coming shows. Alas, this particular show ended on 7 January, 2018. The next show began in March and the featured artist, PICASSO.

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If you should plan to visit Provence, this is one of the many delights that await you.  

Bisous,

Léa