SAMEERAH AL BSHARAH: “Between Light and Shadows” Part II

Like part one, this was originally posted in 2015. However, I felt it well worth the repeat and there will be a few other, older, repeats in the next few weeks. A dear friend arrives from California on Thursday and I believe there will be some travel involved which should result in some interesting posts around mid November. Thanks for your continued support.

 

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Mort de l’accouchement

 

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Transformations humaines
The artist (R) and her daughter (L)
The artist (R) and her daughter (L)
...
Even the children are interested in the artist and her work

 

Olive grove where we parked
Olive grove where we parked
Entrance to the gallery/Tasting room
Entrance to the gallery/Tasting room

 

Vineyards surrounding the olive groves
Vineyards surrounding the olive groves
Back on the road and heading home
Back on the road and heading home

 

Bisous,

Léa

Portes Ouvertes: Cailhau Part 2

As promised, there is more to be seen from the exhibit in Cailhau. I shall provide links to the artists when possible and otherwise refer you to the Artist’s Collective website.artcailhau.blogspot.com and for those of you on Facebook, here is their link: facebook.com/cailhauartistes

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This first photo is one of a few that are at Atelier galerie Al Trial which is where we left off in Part 1. 

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Tsk, tsk, I cannot imagine a studio of my own being so organized! I do happen to have a number of friends who are artists and shall we say that I would not be alone… 

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As we move from Atelier to Atelier we do so in a group. Now we move on to Atelier Du Verrier were we can see the Bijoux (jewellery) and Objet d’art by Matthew Millar.

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Matthew can answer your questions via email at matthewmillar@outlook.com

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It took me a moment to notice the bicycle up against the old house in the work above. I do believe it is the piece I like the most among his work.

Bijoux!
Bijoux!

Our next stop is Atelier boutique L’Ecurie de Pépé. Christine welcomes us into her space which is vibrant and warm. You can contact Christine at christine.dauris@orange.fr

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Christine D. with one of her creations
Christine D. with one of her creations

Our next and final stop for this post will be Maison A. 

Barbara Dordi
Barbara Dordi

This poetry book is all hand made/sewn. The watercolours blend with the words. The work, meticulous. You can check out Barbara at http://www.barbaradardi.blogspot.com

Cover close-up!
Cover close-up!

Barbara is a poet/author and ceramicist. 

Handmade books are unique!
Handmade books are unique!
Song of the Shirt
Song of the Shirt

The Song of the Shirt was written by Thomas Hood in 1843 to honour a widow who sewed to feed her young children. If you want to know more of the story, check out the following link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_the_Shirt

In the above photo you can find the poem interspersed with photos of early 20th century women in sweat shops making shirts. The first verse of the poem is here for you.

Song of the Shirt

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread—
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the “Song of the Shirt.”

“Work! work! work!
While the cock is crowing aloof!
And work—work—work,
Till the stars shine through the roof!
It’s O! to be a slave
Along with the barbarous Turk,
Where woman has never a soul to save,
If this is Christian work!

“Work—work—work,
Till the brain begins to swim;
Work—work—work,

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Please forgive the quality of these photos. I do not have others of these last two photographs but did want to show this piece.

3D in Copper
3D in Copper
"Open Minded"
“Open Minded”

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These 3D copper creations are the work of Vincent Langlard. You can visit his website at http://www.vlang.net or contact@vlang.net.

Artist Vincent Langlard
Artist Vincent Langlard 

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While the birds themselves were creative, if you look closely in the above photo you will find the small man. With the appearance of someone on back of the bird soaring higher I was swept away by this evocative piece. I also use this piece to close the series from Cailhau. I’ve no doubt we shall return.

Bisous,

Léa

 

SAMEERAH AL BSHARAH: “Between Light and Shadows” Part II

My sincere apologies for the gap between the first post from this exhibit and now. The computer and internet issues have been great and replacing the computer is not an option at this time.  If you missed the first part it was posted on 15/08/2015. For those who missed part I or would like to refresh your memory here is the link: https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/sameerah-al-bsharah-between-light-and-shadows-the-artist-in-exile-part-i/However there were a few photos that I did want to include not to mention showing you the beautiful landscape surrounding the gallery. Therefore, despite the delay, I have chosen to offer this post.

...
Mort de l’accouchement

 

...
Transformations humaines
The artist (R) and her daughter (L)
The artist (R) and her daughter (L)
...
Even the children are interested in the artist and her work

 

Olive grove where we parked
Olive grove where we parked
Entrance to the gallery/Tasting room
Entrance to the gallery/Tasting room

 

Vineyards surrounding the olive groves
Vineyards surrounding the olive groves
Back on the road and heading home
Back on the road and heading home

 

Bisous,

Léa

Carcassonne and La Cité

Carcassonne will always have a special place in my heart. When I first visited France it was with a backpack, rail-pass with eyes and heart wide open! I was privileged to stay within the fortified cité for a week. That six weeks traveling France went by in a flash. The lovely bridge leads you into the heart of the town and all that lies beyond. Between the ancient fortress and the river Aude are a playground, picnic areas and vast parkland. To the rear are vineyards.

La Cité
La Cité

This ancient Roman town was established around the VIII Century BC, the Carsac oppidum was just two kilometers south of the present city. The town extends over more than twenty hectares on the apex of a plateau protected by both a ditch and the angled entrances. Due to demographic growth it was reorganized around the late VIIth Century. Another ditch was reinforced by levees and palisades of wood and made to protect the new extension. While we don’t know why, the Carsac oppidum was abandoned in the early Vith Century BC then moved to its current resting place on the mound which dominates the Aude plain. Vestiges acquired from archaeological excavations show us that it was occupied from the beginning of the Iron Age up until the Roman conquest. Among the artifacts are drystone walls, grain silos, bronze foundry ovens and pottery. The discovery of the vast number of goods, especially earthenware (amphoras, vases, goblets…) attests to the activities that took place in this colony which was accessible to trading in the region of the Aude and also the Mediterranean basin.

Drawbridge or main entrance
Drawbridge or main entrance

 

A pathway to the side off drawbridge
Drawbridge from the inside
Cité walls left of entrance
Cité walls left of entrance
Un café
Un café
Walking along the central path inside the fortified city
Walking along the central path inside the fortified city
Temptation is everywhere!
Sweets for the sweet!
One of the courtyards inside the walled cité
One of the courtyards inside the walled cité
Souvenirs abound
Souvenirs abound
Off the beaten track
Off the beaten track
One of the many paths you can take
One of the many paths you can take
To the right of the entrance you can see the moat is often dry these days
To the right of the entrance you can see the moat is often dry these days
Below the walled fortress the river forks
Below the walled fortress the river Aude forks

 

This little bridge takes you across the river into the heart of the town. If you look closely you can see some delicate metal arches to walk under.
This little bridge takes you across the river Aude into the heart of the town. If you look closely you can see some delicate metal arches to walk under.
At the bottom you can partially see the local boules club
At the bottom you can partially see the local boules club

The citadel takes its reputation from its 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long double surrounding walls which are interspersed by 52 towers. The town has approximately 2,500 years of history which has seen it inhabited or invaded by Romans, Visigoths, Saracens and of course, the Crusaders. It originated as a Gaulish settlement then in the 3rd century A.D., the Romans began to fortify the town. It was annexed to the kingdom of France in 1247 A.D., and provided a strong French frontier between France and the Crown of Aragon.

After the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, the province of Roussillon was included as part of France and the town no longer had military significance. The town became one of the economic centers of France focusing on the woolen textile industry and the fortifications were abandoned.

The French government decided to demolish the city fortifications in 1849. The local people were strongly opposed. The campaign to preserve the fortress as an historical monument was staunchly aided by the efforts of Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille and Prosper Mérimée, a renowned archaeologist and historian. The government reversed its decision and the restoration work commenced in 1853. The architect, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was charged with renovating the fortress. Viollet-le-Duc’s work received criticism in his lifetime. Claims were made that the restoration was inappropriate for the traditions and climate of the region. Upon his death in 1879, the work continued under the direction of his former pupil, Paul Boeswillwald and later by the architect Nodet.

If you are interested in the area, may I recommend the book Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Her descriptions of Carcassonne are excellent and her story weaves in and out of the 12th century and modern day.  It was her book that I was reading when I first arrived in Carcassonne.

There are accommodations from four star hotels to the youth hostel within the fortified cité and it can provide an excellent place to stay during a visit. The train station is a short walk away from the centre of town and the airport is nearby. It is not to late to plan a holiday here in the south west of France the summer will be here soon but there are activities here all year around.

Bisous,

Léa

 

 

Poisson d’Avril – April Fools

All Fools Day is celebrated 1 April each year across much of the world. It is a day of hoaxes, practical jokes and all around good humour.  Many people believe that the holiday originated in France. Few facts are available and you will make up your own mind. Regardless, it is just a bit of silliness and fun in a world with too little silliness and fun.

French Origins of April Fools Day

Although the origins of April Fools is obscure and debated, the most widely accepted explanation actually credits the “holiday” as starting in France. The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century.

The theory goes like this: In 1564 King Charles XIV of France reformed the calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. However, in a time without trains, a reliable post system or the internet, news often traveled slow and the uneducated, lower class people in rural France were the last to hear of and accept the new calendar. Those who failed to keep up with the change or who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.

Poisson d'Avril
Poisson d’Avril

Today, those who are fooled on 1 April are called the “Poisson d’Avril or April Fish. It is common especially among school-aged children to place a paper fish on the back of an unsuspecting person. That person is declared a “Poisson d’Avril.

Often you can find a large Poisson on the last page, first section of the morning newspaper or le journal.

Le journal
Le journal – L’INDEPENDANT

Most mornings I read le journal at the local café. Sometimes I buy a copy from le boulanger, Jacques.  This morning he had the lovely, fruity Poisson d’Avril made up in a flakey puff pastry with pastry cream and your choice of apricot (apricot) or fraise (strawberry). He is a lovely man who lives in the village and has several family members working along side him.

Jacques
Jacques
Jacques's son
Jacques’s son

Of course there is always croissants, pain au raisin, baguettes and much more. If other shops are closed you can pick up milk, honey, jam, coffee and more here.

La boulangerie
La boulangerie

While I have you here just outside the bakery, I want to share something that I really love. Outside some businesses are old metal signs that without words, show you exactly what kind of shop it is. Despite the wind today, I have taken a photo of the one outside the bakery. Unfortunately, it is at an angle due to the strong wind. However, I think it is charming and there are a few others still around but you do have to look up for them. Great care in design is taken to tell a story in picture.

Sign for the bakery
Sign for the bakery

I do believe if you look closely you can see the moon over the sleepy village while le boulanger is watching his oven. They are reminiscent of a quieter time and I do love each of them that I have found.

Perhaps when I have collected enough photos of such signs, there will be a blog post on those.

Poisson d’Avril or April Fools!

Bisous,

Léa

Bridges

A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles. Often that is a body of water but also for terrain or roads. Bridges connect something and often someone to somewhere and someone else. I’ve always had a fondness for bridges and with my background in Psychology, I’ve long worked helping individuals, couples and families building other kinds of bridges. The bridges you will see here are symbolic for me of the work I have done and continue to do. However, they are also a thing of beauty, not only for their appearance but for their purpose.

Le passerelle - Durban
Le passerelle – Durban

Le passerelle a Durban
From our little passerelle (footbridge) a few short yards from my door we are connecting both sides of the village the older part of the village (shown) to the newer additions, la poste, marie (mayor’s office) and the schools to name a few. The grand suspension bridge of Millau (below), is stunning and the views there are breathtaking. The first time I crossed it, I had only been in France a few weeks. I had taken the train up north to purchase my car from the daughter of friends. The bridge was a complete surprise as I began to cross it and about halfway across, it began to snow.

Creissels et Viaduct de Millau.jpg

The Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world (courtesy-Wikipedia). The bridge was constructed to increase autoroute access from Paris to Béziers and Montpellier. Since I don’t have my own photos and this bridge deserves its own post, I shall not go into it any further at this time.
Modern bridge – Durban
There is one more ‘bridge’ in the village connecting the two sides. It is a few meters beyond the modern bridge. However, it appears as nothing more than a bit of driveway as it must be closed when there is more than a little water in the river.

By definition, a bridge
A bridge – loosely defined

 

 

My personal favourite
My personal favourite – Durban

My personal favourite actually does have water running or sometimes crawling along beneath it. Sunday morning it was at overflow due to the rains but as the rain subsides, so does the river.

Pont de Limoux
Pont de Limoux

 

 

 

 

 

Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard

One of many bridges in Nimes beautiful gardens
Pont du Gard – ancient Roman aqueduct bridge
Pont du Gard is one of the most visited bridges in all of France. It was built in the 1st century AD. It is the highest of the Roman aqueduct bridges and the one in the best condition. In 1985 UNESCO added it to the list of World Heritage Sites due to its historical importance.

While there are many bridges everywhere you go in France, I will close with one of the most photographed and loved.

Japanese Bridge - Monet's gardens
Japanese Bridge – Monet’s gardens

It is my hope that you will have enjoyed the bridges and one day discover these and more by exploring France.

Bisous,

Léa

 

Seasons change…

Mon village
Mon village

I have heard it said that if you love a place when it is winter, you will love it all year around. This photo was taken in January 2008 when I first saw the village that would become my home. In the centre of the above photo is a group of three houses. The first is a large double and the ground floor is home to an iron forge. The two narrow houses to the right of it complete this group and the yellowish one on the right is mine. To the left is the footbridge which crosses the river Berre. The footbridge leads to the other side of the village where you will find La Poste, La Marie (Mayor’s office) the primary school, la maternelle (pre-school), maison de la retraite (retirement home) Maison des Jeunes, a house with several rooms for activities for the young people of the village. While other groups have use of the facilities, the young have priority. There are such associations all over France.

Roman bridge
Roman bridge

Standing on the footbridge and facing the old Roman bridge, is my favourite view and even though the trees were bare, the river low and the sky grey, to me it was home. The old plane trees across the river now provide shade through much of the year for the new picnic area which was installed last year. On the right, the old stone wall which had been lowered to make the other side of the village visible. It had been as high as the bridge.  The level of River Berre fluctuates and is currently very low. However, that can change quickly and strong rains this time of year can bring concerns of inundation such as was experienced in November 1999. The flood waters reached the top of the ground floor of houses along my road and we have very high ceilings. We came close to flooding last year but the quick response of the firefighters (pompiers), wine makers and others in the village created a run off for the water and prevented a disaster. Over the past year preventative measures have been taken but the villagers are ever watchful and respect the beauty, bounty and the force of nature.

Picnic and giant pits for grilling etc...
Picnic and giant pits for grilling etc…

 

 

This region is known as “Les hommes des souches” is a Corbières saying describing local people whose families have lived in the area for a very long time and who have worked the land, tending the vines and producing wine. The ‘souches’ is the vine plant and the roots go down very deep into the soil. Durban people feel connected with their town, their land, their families and the history of the town which goes back to pre-Christian periods.

Below is my neighbour, Armand, in his atelier. He is a young 90+ and as sweet as they come. His skills are amazing as he creates gates, railings, decorative items and art. In his salon there is a collection of musicians with their instruments all he created at the forge.

Armand in his atelier
Armand in his atelier

 

Work by Armand - symbol of Pays d'Occitan
Work by Armand – symbol of Pays d’Occitan

 

The first fire in my new home. While it was new to me it has been around for over 350 years. The tiles are original and one of the distinct patters in the house.

First flames...
First flames…

The first December here, we had an unusual visitor.

A rare snowfall
A rare snowfall

From the hills

From the south east
From the south east

For me, even in the winter there is nowhere I would rather be. I hope you have enjoyed these few windows into my village.

Bisous,

Léa