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

Kamil Vojnar

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be hinderances limiting our vision.” Salvador Dali

 

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KAMIL VOJNAR: LIFE IS A JOURNEY

As my dear friend Rita and I strolled the winding streets of Saint-Remy-de-Provence in the late October sunshine trying not to miss anything we were rewarded with the small Provence gallery/atelier of Kamil Vojnar. 

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The artist was born during the Cold War, 1962, in  Moravia, Czechoslovakia. He studied at the School of Graphic Arts in Prague after completion of his military service (tank commander) and later  The Philadelphia Art Institute and The Art  Student’s League of New York.

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Alas, if I had more skill in the art of photography and perhaps a more than an old point and shoot camera, I could have done justice to his work. Regardless, my purpose here is to introduce as many as possible to  Vojnar’s remarkable vision. To see it up close and personal is to really comprehend its magic. His images reach out to the viewer, enfold them and infuse their message. This was one of those times that I wished I could run everyone out of the atelier, lock the door and be alone with the work that mesmerized me and leaving me to write their secrets behind shuttered doors.

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It is my hope that you will search out where you can view some of his works nearest you. They are most certainly worth both time and travel to do so. To see the artist and learn more about him and his work, I recommend the following link replete with video. https://vimeo.com/90886154 please give it a glance.

 

Bisous,

Léa

Antonio Machado 1875 – 1939

“My soul is not asleep. It is awake, wide awake. It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches, its eyes wide open, far off things, and listens at the shores of the great silence.” – Antonio Machado

“Travelers, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.” – Antonio Machado

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While visiting Collioure, a strikingly beautiful beach village, several years ago with a friend, we ventured into the cemetery. On that first visit, I became quite curious as there were a large crowd of people surrounding one of the graves. The group stayed for quite some time and it seemed that it was a pilgrimage. After they moved on, I was able to take a look and unfortunately nothing more having my camera out of commission at the time. When my friend returned to France this time and suggested a visit to Collioure, I checked out my camera and prepared for capturing these photos. 

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While this group of four is a much smaller gathering than what I witnessed the last time I was here, there seems to be a steady stream of those coming to honor the great poet. It would have been lovely to have a closer shot but I did not want to intrude.

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As you can see, to the right of the headstone is a mailbox for those who want to leave a message. Those tiny white stones which appear to be scattered are actually placed as remembrances from those who come to pay their respects. Most have messages on them. Some simply have a date or initials. If you look back at the first photo in this post you can see some of those stones more clearly.

THE WIND, ONE BRILLIANT DAY

 “The wind, one brilliant day, called                                                                                                to my soul with the odor of jasmine.

‘In return for the odor of my jasmine                                                                                                 I’d like the odor of all your roses.’

‘I have no roses; all the flowers                                                                                                           in my garden are dead.’

‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals and the yellow leaves                                                  and the waters of the fountain.’

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:                                                                          ‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’

– Antonio Machado

Born in Seville, the young Antonio moved with his family to Madrid in 1883 where he and his brother, Manuel, joined the Free Educational Institution. This was where Antonio discovered his passion for literature. At the age of seventeen, he lost his father and took on a series of jobs including acting. At the dawning of the new century, he joined his brother in Paris. Manuel already had gained employment as a translator. In Paris, Antonio encountered Jean Moréas and Paul Fort and other contemporary figures in the literary world including Oscar Wilde. Such connections supported his decision that he too would be a poet.Antonio’s first poems were published in a literary journal, Electra, in 1901 and followed two years later by his first collection in 1903, Soledades. A second edition was published in 1907.

Antonio was offered a teaching position, French, in Soria and there he met Leonor Izquierdo Cuevas. He married Miss Cuevas in 1909 when he was 34 years old and the young lady was fifteen. Three years later they returned to Paris. Unfortunately, Leonor developed tuberculosis and returned to Spain where she died on 1 August, 1912. Antonio was devastated by his loss and shortly after the publication of Campos de Castilla, he left Soria for good. His next home was in Baeza, in Andalusia. He published a new edition of Campos de Castilla in 1916 in which he included poems on the death of his wife.

Machado taught French in Segovia from 1919 to 1931 and this allowed him to live closer to his brother who was in Madrid. The closeness allowed them to collaborate writing a number of successful plays. Antonio also enjoyed a romance with Pilar Valderrama, a married woman who he later writes of in later poems using the name, Guiomar.

While still in Segovia, he declares the Republic using the Republican flag which he raises on the town’s hall to the accompaniment of the French National Anthem, La Marseillaise.  His philosophical leanings and moral declarations become increasingly clear in a series he published on the eve of the Spanish Civil War using the pseudonyms, Able Martin and Juan de Mairena. Machado was in Madrid when the war broke out and he was separated from his brother, a separation that would last for the rest of their lives.

His writing continued but made clear his sympathies were with the Republican Party. Machado, brothers José, Joaquim and their mother, were evacuated to Valencia then later to Barcelona.When the Second Spanish Republic fell, they were forced to escape into France where they found themselves in Collioure. He died on 22 February, 1939. He was buried there in Collioure. His mother died shortly after and is also buried nearby.  

If this is your introduction to Antonio Machado, I do hope you will explore his work and enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.

 

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Bisous,

 

Léa

 

Behind the scene

Originally posted 2014.

Each year, most often in the spring, our choir, Les Chants des Corbières, often combines our performances with a small repast ( repas). While concerts are usually free, we do have a small charge for the meal and it helps to pay the choirs expenses.

In this post you will see a bit of the activity that goes into preparing an autumn repas following a performance in the nearby village of Villesèque-des-Corbières (Pop: 388).  The menu was kept simple. There was Pumpkin soup, baguettes, cheeses and a variety of desserts all made by choir members. There are always bottles of wine, juices and bottles of water on each table. However, we are also well known for our generous vat (30 plus gallons) of Sangria.

One of the first things I look for each autumn as the landscape begins to run rampant with colours are pumpkins and other squashes. When I first arrived in France they were abundant but almost unrecognisable to me. Living in California, New York and a few states in-between did not prepare me for what I would find at the local markets. No longer would I carve into a round and brightly orange vegetable. The pumpkins here are not round and smooth nor are they always orange. Many of the pumpkins are a light to medium and even a dark green.  Regardless of the colour of the outside, they are all the same vibrant orange inside and quite delicious.

Villesèque foyer's kitchen in the corner with two of the pumpkins
Villesèque foyer’s kitchen in the corner with two of the pumpkins
Andrea making the first cut
Andrea making the first cut
Part of our set-up crew
Part of our set-up crew
Front of foyer before being decorated
Front of foyer before being decorated
Never too many cooks!
Never too many cooks!
Tiny kitchen, several cooks and lots of laughter...
Tiny kitchen, several cooks and lots of laughter…
Tables begin to take on the colours of the evening
Tables begin to take on the colours of the evening
Chop and peel, peel and chop...
Chop and peel, peel and chop…
Is it soup yet?
Is it soup yet?
Nothing like a lovely bowl of soup on a nippy autumn evening
Nothing like a lovely, simmering pot of soup…
Clean-up
Clean-up
Many hands...
Many hands…
If only you could hear the laughter and the singing
If only you could hear the laughter and the singing

There is often a tombola (raffle) and prizes donated by local merchants including plants, travel, baskets filled with treats including bottles of wine.

While most of the songs we sing are French, we do have a few in our catalogue in Spanish, one or two in English and a few songs from different parts of Africa and the Caribbean. Audiences always have their favourites and they will demand encores so they can join it.

The choir has accumulated a large cache of dishes, silverware, glassware and serving pieces. It is a grand mismatched collection. Unlike typical village meals, our guests do not need to bring their tableware as everything is provided. We may be exhausted by the time clean-up is finished but smiling. Leftover food is usually shared among us with some of the cakes being frozen until our next choir practice along with some leftover sangria to wash it all down with.

Bisous,

Léa

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)
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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

Sameerah Al Bsharah: “Between light and shadows” the artist in exile – Part I

“Exile of Syria,” chiaroscuro of SAMEERAH AL BSHARAH

“BETWEEN LIGHT AND SHADOWS”

Sameerah Al Bsharah
Sameerah Al Bsharah

A short biography:
Sameerah Al Bsharah, Allama, was born on 1 January 1952 in Sweida (Syria). Graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 1977, she taught art education at the University of Damascus. Member of the Brotherhood of Syrian artists painters, Sameerah Al Bsharah has several exhibitions to her credit including the Syrian city of Latakia where she participated in the famous Biennale.

Living in Deraa, the family fled the conflict in 2012 and took refuge in Jordan, then in France in November 2014. Hosted by the Centre for Asylum Seekers Home (CADA) of Béziers, the family has obtained the status a refugee.

Sadly, I have no website or even email address to recommend to you and would suggest contacting CADA of Béziers for further information on the artist and her work.

 

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Damas

 

Violence
Violence

The setting for this exhibit is Domain Langel just outside the village of Artisan. This tranquil setting surrounded by olive orchards and vineyards with honey coloured stone buildings waits to embrace the work of the artist as she translates through her paintings the torments of a country in turmoil.

While domain Langel continues their production of olive oil they also have set a goal of cultivating environmental education and cultural activities.

Veto
Veto
Des enfants de la Syrie
Des enfants de la Syrie
Upper: Transformations humaines / Lower: Des syriens a l'hopital
Upper: Transformations humaines / Lower: Des syriens  a  l’hopital

Over tea on the cold tiles of the kitchen, she carried her paintings and comments on: this is called <moustachfa> (<hospital> in Arabic) and reflects the expressions, the intermingling of bodies that may be encountered in Syrian hospitals overwhelmed by the influx of victims of war.

On another painting, three fish with sharp teeth represent that powerful attack of frightened people. Sameerah denounced the veto in the UN Security Council that would prevent international intervention and let the Syrian people defenseless. A composition black and white leaves perceive injuries, body and spirit.

L: Une mere et sa fille R: Femmes Lower: Le jeu des sectarismes
L: Une mere et sa fille R: Femmes Lower: Le jeu des sectarismes
Casque militaire
Casque militaire
Ca suffit
Ca suffit
Le bien et le mal
Le bien et le mal
Transformations humaines
Transformations humaines
Triptyque du plateau de Hauran Région de Syrie méridionale, très fertile.
Triptyque du plateau de Hauban
Région de Syrie méridionale, très fertile.

Alongside these poignant testimonies of the Syrian conflict, other paintings pay tribute to Syrian beauty: lush scenery, smiling women and tranquility.

The paintings  that Sameerah presents were dismantled from their frames before departure. Many stayed in Syria or Jordan; it was impossible to take everything into exile.

Pause
La chaise
Pause
Pause
La fin de Pharaon
La fin de Pharaon
Une femme et un miroir
Une femme et un miroir

Due to factors beyond my control, the photos I offer are poor representatives of the work on offer. There is much more to add and therefore, this will serve as part one of an amazing exposition.

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET TO CLICK ON THE PHOTOS FOR A BETTER VIEW.

Bisous,

Léa