Saturday, 28 April 2012

Textile Forays

I am about to embark on a season of Brocantes, Vides Greniers or 'Emptying the Attic' or 'Puces' or 'fleamarket'. Before I begin to scour the many tables of goodies I am wondering what kind of things I may look for. I am always keen on old tools, kitchenalia, gardening things and textiles. I am struck by how many of us are stimulated by textiles and vintage living. It's a curiosity. I never would imagine the wealth of blogs and how many of us have this desire to be close to the past. Many use the objets Trouvé to authenticate the lives we have now. It's like we need these totems around us to reaffirm who we are and our aspirations. To enrich our homes.
Many artists have accumulated stuff around them. Picasso used old bicycle handlebars and he transformed them into cow horns. I remember my art classes at school having a variety of plants to inspire a drawing. Old crockery, bottles provided a suitable subject for a still life.
It's not everybody who likes old things. My family has no time for my collecting, in fact when I moved to France I stupidly left boxes of my favourite things to be saved until I was next able to retrieve them. I returned after the winter to discover everything had been sorted through and mysteriously the tins brimming with things were empty. I found the whole experience devastating but I couldn't express this because to other people the stuff I lovingly and sensitively saved over my life were no more than trash.
I believe the things I look for now in my forays are a bit about trying to patch up my loss of my props but also I wish to enrich my home with things that cost little but represent a lot.

Friday, 13 April 2012


I love gardening, at the moment my studio is full of seedlings. I'm not great at rows but can be quite methodical at a stretch. I at least begin with a plan. I do get distracted when out shopping. Here in France, at least here in this area where it's probably more traditional than other areas. You have to buy it when you see it otherwise it's gone. So when I see potting compost in a pile outside Atac, the little supermaket, if I don't buy a couple of bags they disappear. It's taken me a few years to realise this. So if you see fruit trees in the shop and don't buy you have to wait till next year. I bought a peach tree this week. I am taking a gamble, in fact I am thinking I might grow it in a pot indoors.
 I love both of these images of the same theme Potagers. I have been looking up French veg growing blogs by images. I found the image above by Van Gogh and the one below is Pissaro's garden by various artist's including Pissarro.
Pissarro's garden by Cezanne
Pisarro's garden by Gauguin
Pissarro's vegetable garden

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Les Pommes de terre | PhotoSeed

Ferdinand Coste, 1895 France

Matinée de Mai en Morvan, photogravure Ferdinand Coste 1861- 1932.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

This is an area slightly below us near Luzy. On the way we pass through some very rural communities. I take a lot of photos as a passenger out of the car. Many of these I delete but sometimes there is something that becomes the idea behind a landscape painting. I often become instinctively interested in certain views. I either love the way a landscape opens up to reveal something, like a group of cottages or some interesting land feature. This interest seems to be increased by the amount of times I pass through it. Somehow a landscape becomes part of my memory of place and part of an experience.

This is an area that was neglected, we call it the fruit garden as it was where the lady who lived here before grew her fruit bushes. I am attempting to remove brambles, bracken and nettles so I can have extra garden. Not plain sailing! At the moment I have sprinkled flower seeds. The plan is to grow fruit bushes in memory of Madame Lequin, she lived here on her own for many years. The toilet was outside, no bathroom. There are jars of her things in the cave below the house. She kept herself very busy and in summer  gave away jars of her jams to the other villagers. I made 1 jar of blackcurrant jam last year. So delicious it's inspired me to take lots of cuttings to grow more.
Our cat flap is high off the ground. The cats have an angled plank to get up and then a stone shelf to walk along under vines. Puds likes sitting up here in the evenings, he needs more space. 

I have discovered some wonderful French vintage housecoats, as soon as I work out how to sell them I will be selling them. They are all different, handmade and, I think, very wearable. You can wear them layered with cardigans, woollies with wellingtons or flip flops. I find them really comfortable, cool and certainly not the kind of thing you find on the High Street. I shall be keeping 1 or 2.

Plant envy in my neighbour's garden.

Alpina Clematis, I'm really unsure about this planting. I read they don't tolerate much sun. As we already have high temperatures, 20+°C I imagine it won't like full sun where the soil can be a little dry. This is our only North facing wall and it would be wonderful to have plants crawling over it. It's rather ugly and not only this the main entrance to our house is here. Not exactly welcoming as it is. I do have little violets growing and that has opened me up to the idea of looking for more woodland plants. I just worry that the winter is too harsh, I may have to cut back and bring Alpina in. She has such pretty delicate blue petals.
My car behind is a little Nissan, it's a funny old car only 850cc so I get very good mileage. I go shopping and drive slowly, no one else on the roads to irritate. I wouldn't want to drive to the seaside in her but great, very cheap and always starts even on the coldest days. I also have a Morris Traveller and the VW Caravelle is at the garagiste waiting for parts. We will go travelling when this one is ready. The winter can send one a little stir crazy. 

Cherry blossom in the field. It produces small cherries, slightly tart compared with others  on the farm.