Wednesday, 17 September 2014

September 2014

The slow shift of the seasons is underway with still, cool mornings moving gently towards the warmth of late summer afternoons. 
However I'm heading to Paris to stay in a perfect little garret with my daughter & to explore some more, Flâneur style, wandering here & there with 
no particular place to go. Paris, where the eternal vagabond reinterprets his (or her) image of the city to suit our own dreams and imagination.  
Paris was given the name of the City of Light during the Enlightenment, however in 1828, Paris began lighting the Champs-Elysées with gas lamps and being the first city in Europe to do so, became known from then onwards as La Ville-Lumière.
At the end of the 18th century, town planners in Paris created a labyrinth of hidden passages across Paris. Over the years many of them fell into disrepair or were demolished, but if you know where to look you can still push back a doorway and walk into a fabulous belle époque arcade, a glittering art nouveau galerie or an ancient courtyard. I have found some of the Arcades this way before and this led me to the extraordinary and fascinating work by Walter Benjamin called The Arcades Project which I have been dipping in and out of for years. There are many more arcades for me to find so I've compiled a list as follows -  
1st  arrondissement
Galerie du Palais Royal - 2 Place Colette.

Galerie Véro-Dodat - between 19 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau & 2 rue du Bouloi. 

2nd arrondissement
Galerie Colbert - between 4 rue Vivienne and 6 rue des Petits-Champs.
Galerie Vivienne - between 6 rue Vivienne and 4 rue des Petits-Champs. 
Passage du Bourg-l'Abbé - between 120 rue Saint Denis & 3 rue Palestro. 

Passage du Caire - 237-239 rue Saint-Denis. 
Passage Choiseul - between 40 rue des Petits-Champs and 23 rue Saint-Augustin. 
Passage du Grand-Cerf - between 145 rue Saint-Denis and 10 rue Dussoubs. 
Passage des Panoramas - between 11 boulevard Montmartre and 10, rue Saint-Marc. Named in memory of the two panoramas that stood on either side of its entranceway and that disappeared in 1831.
Passage du Ponceau - between 119 boulevard de Sébastopol and 212 rue Saint-Denis. 
Passage des Princes -  between 5 boulevard des Italiens and 97 rue de Richelieu. 
8th arrondissement 
Arcade des Champs-Elysées - 76-78 avenue des Champs-Élysées 
Galerie de la Madeleine - between 9 place de la Madeleine & 30 rue Boissy-d'Anglas.
9th arrondissement  
Passage Jouffroy between 10-12 boulevard Montmartre & 9 rue de la Grange-Batelière. There are a number of passages in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood and the fun part is that they all seem to connect. You exit one, and across the street is another, and soon you’re deep in the middle of a neighborhood, far from the main avenue. The Paris passages each have distinct personalities, some are dusty and traversed less often, others are full of visitors and packed with visual distractions. The Passage Jouffroy is one of the latter.
Passage Verdeau - between 6 rue de la Grange-Batelière & 31 bis rue du Faubourg-Montmartre. 
The last of the passages in the Grands Boulevards after Passage Jouffroy and the Passage des Panoramas, Verdeau was built at the same time as Jouffroy in 1847, and has the same avant-garde architectural details and a cradle-like glass roof, though it's rather more low key – people come here to avoid the crowds and browse antiques dealers, speciality comics from the 50s and old postcards.
10th arrondissement  
Passage Brady - between 46 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis and 22 boulevard de Strasbourg. One of two iron and glass covered passages, opened in 1828, now famous for Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants.

Ideas to work on from autumn days in Paris and Versailles.
My photographs have been zoomed into as I'm looking for aspects and details that I can later develop into paintings and designs for jewellery. 
Marie Antoinette had a particular love for flowers. In fact, I found it almost impossible not to find textiles, china, wallpaper, furniture or indeed any
other accoutrement that has not been lavishly embellished with them.
Her private rooms abound in them and down in her little village by the lake her idyll was given it's freedom, though now after decades of neglect are in the process of being renovated by the House of Dior. In contrast, the state apartments are decorated with far more formal designs, but flowers inevitably make their appearance.
The excellence of craftsmanship is extraordinary and an area to study without doubt. However you can hear the angry shouts at the palace gates and appreciate their grievances but not their methods.
Verdigris on copper on rusty iron on the walls of the Sacré-Cœur in Montmatre.
 Posters on drainpipes.
Painted glass door with reflections in the flea market.
 African textiles - Marais.
 Eroded reflections - Hall of Mirrors - Versailles.
 RER chair cover on the train to Versailles.
 Eroded gilding - Versailles.
 Silk scarves - rue Mouffetard.
Torn posters - Montmartre.
 Reflections - Marais.
 Scarf details - Marais.

Monday, 7 July 2014

July and August 2014

Down Memory Lane
A perfect time - when summer weather brings ambient temperatures to earth and I find myself floating in the spaces between imagination and practicality, collecting inspiration, retrieving numinous facets from the world of the collective unconscious. I have a creative balance in my working day - in fact it is a 24 hour day of delightful discoveries as dream time is yet another surprising facet. I'm working with traces and trails of colours that reflect my journey and with the beauty inherent in the simplicity of fragments and discarded objects, found in the world at my feet, whether city pavements or along river banks and shorelines.
It's in line with the philosophy of arte povera, that emphasises the importance my own guiding principles of intuition, imagination and innovation.  The things I make are rather like maps that are made after the journey. For me, the importance is mainly about the journey, although saying that, it would remain uncharted if not for the making.

Lizzie, my daughter and I went to Herefordshire for a weekend at the end of July to visit old haunts, a little trip down memory lane. The whole weekend was filled with synchronicity and was delightful and moving.
The cottage rapidly disappearing beneath the ever encroaching undergrowth (above) is where we used to live. In fact when I found it in the late 1980's it was also wrapped up by Mother Nature. I had woken up early one morning after a strange dream (I have many unusual and telling dreams by the way) in which I was visiting a very old lady who lived in an isolated cottage where wild ponies would come to her door to be comforted and fed.
On the hill beyond a hunt was in full swing, I remember being surprised the appearance of a very stroppy woman in a black velvet top hat, (who looked like someone I had met only once but who lived nearby and who was also a member of the local hunt) who was busily bossing everyone about but she could not come onto this old woman's land to pursue her prey. The dream cottage was like a little oasis of peace and magic. On recalling the images on waking, I thought that I recognised the place by the lay of the land and after I had taken my son to school, I drove up to where I thought it was with Lizzie, who was then only two years old, to see if this place actually existed. Sure enough I saw the top of a chimney above all the tangled brambles that covered the entire building. Feeling quite encouraged I went back home and got a thick blanket for Lizzie to sit on, a machete, a pair of thick leather gardening gloves, a sailing hat ( to stuff my rather long and unruly hair under), a pair of wellies, a pair of dungarees (quite on trend in the 80's) and a picnic and returned to start my hacking and chopping. I should add here that the land, 5000 acres belonged to a close friend who was also the local Lord of the Manor and I knew he would not mind one bit as I tried to connect dreams with reality. The whole episode had the air of fairy tale adventure from beginning to end. The cottage had in fact been unoccupied for over 40 years and brambles grew extraordinarily well in that neck of the woods, some were almost as thick as Lizzie's wrist. I slowly made my way and came to a stream, not very deep but quietly running along its course and kept on hacking back the brambles, trying to avoid the very sharp thorns. I came to the porch after about two hours. The brambles had travelled into the front room, (the only room downstairs apart from a larder and a place to chop up a pig) grown up the fireplace in which was an old iron grate where the previous occupants had done all their cooking and heating of water and up the chimney, intertwining between a 40 year old tower of crows nests that had been built on year on year. The extraordinary brambles had also grown across the flag floor and made their way up the spiral stone staircase, across the two bedroom floors, through the little windows

and back outside to begin the journey all over again. I must add that as I kept clearing my way, I would also clear another place for Lizzie on her blanket. She made no attempt to crawl away and simply sat and watched as I slowly revealed what was eventually, though unbeknownst to either of us at the time, to become our new home.I can and will no doubt retell all the adventures we had there over the ten years that we lived there. It's fascinating, and is often stranger than fiction.
The undergrowth nowadays is more cultivated at least, or once was as I established a beautiful garden there before we left in 2000 and moved to Devon. I had the cottage on a so-called renovating lease for 20 years with an extra 7 years for Lizzie to take possession if she so wished when she was 21. There hangs another tale of devious skullduggery, the upshot is that this lovely place is abandoned once again. 
Before and after shots but not as we expected. Initially, when I started on my renovation plans the kitchen, above was an old cow shed, again abandoned for 40 years, made from bricks, timber and corrugated iron sheeting. It was beyond repair so I made the plans for a kitchen with a sort of minstrel gallery above, where I envisioned my children and their friends peeping through and looking down on preparations for Christmas etc way after their bedtimes. It worked perfectly for the time we lived there. My son, Richard, built a beautiful Carl Larsson style wooden shelf all around the kitchen where I could keep my papier-mâché pots.

Somewhere beneath the jasmine and vines is a wooden pergola, once a sunlight dappled retreat.
There was a wildlife pond here that I had dug out to collect water from the stream.
Before and after rack and ruin.

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