Originally posted on Raxa Collective:

An ongoing exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum explores extremes of footwear from around the globe, in 200 pairs of shoes An ongoing exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum explores extremes of footwear from around the globe, in 200 pairs of shoes

If you happen to be on Cromwell Road in London, United Kingdom, then let your feet take you to the Victoria and Albert Museum. To be more precise, to this exhibition titled Shoes: Pleasure and Pain. Among the 200 plus pairs of footwear exhibited until January, 2016 are a sandal decorated in pure gold leaf originating from ancient Egypt and contemporary creations from Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. The exhibit explores three different themes: transformation, status and seduction. Transformation looks at the mythical aspect of shoes in folklore. Status examines how impractical shoes are worn to represent a privileged lifestyle. Finally, seduction explores the concept of footwear as a representation of sexual empowerment and pleasure. Talk about history meeting its contemporary.

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at lunchtime

June 6, 2015

place de l'eglise

France still closes down at lunchtine 12-2pm. Quite civilised and to be respected. Very pleasant sitting in Place de l’Eglise in Fontvieille – a small town that appeals more and more . . .

rue de lion

. . . wandering around the old streets, intrinsic compositions can be seen, admired and recorded.

lion gargoyle

pelargoniums

olive and stone

echeveria

pot garden

A garden of pots – well tended plants, all thriving and with somewhere to sit and admire them . . .

chairs

. . . and a green roof, which some might say is just ‘les mauvaises herbes’.

green roof

platane murie

Mûrier platane foliage on neatly managed trees shading a small modern square – very inviting – and just close by, in contrast, spreading branches of an ancient plane tree form a ceiling by the quarried stone face of the old town wall.

small square

stone quarry

skate 1

In the château gardens, now the town park, all ages are catered for. The home of Alphonse Daudet, the writer, now a museum dedicated to him and his work  – most notably “Les Lettres de mon Moulin”. Water courses run through the parkland where holm oaks and pines cascade over lauristinius and broom providing a simple vegetation matrix

canal

view to windmill 1

windmill 1

Following one walking route (there are many others to Les Baux, to San Remy and to Eygalieres) around the top of the town, the landmarks are three windmills named after their owners – Tissot-Avon (2 owners), Ramet and Ribet also called St Pierre and also also called Daudet’s mill with sails completely restored.

windmill 2

windmill 3

windmill 3 whole

windmill 3

rather fell for it and the whole area of Les Alpilles.

windmill 3 detail

J’ai dans mon coeur un oiseau bleu,
Une charmante creature,
Si mignonne que sa ceinture
N’a pas l’epaisseur d’un cheveu.

Il lui faut du sang pour pature.
Bien longtemps, je me fis un jeu
De lui donner sa nourriture:
Les petits oiseaux mangent peu.

Mais, sans en rien laisser paraitre,
Dans mon coeur il a fait, le traitre,
Un trou large comme la main.

Et son bec fin comme une lame,
En continuant son chemin,
M’est entre jusqu’au fond de l’ame!….  Alphonse Daudet L’Oiseau Bleu

 

grass sissinghurst

And a return visit – always a pleasure after doing a little work in a garden nearby – and 2 months on. Seeing the shadows on the grass  – just a casual pause before hitting the glamour of the garden rooms. Roses in full bloom – it’s that time of the year after all. My interest here is how the rose works against/with the background and as part of the composition – not many idents for the plantaholics, sorry – so below the soft coppery/pink tones of this rose at the entrance that work so so well with the old brick facade.

rose 1

rosees sissinghurst

sissinghurst roses 2

On the wall that divides the front courtyard and the rose garden – a Clematis – C. montana ‘Marjorie’ and time for a pause to remember a much loved aunt – a lady so confident, elegant and happy with herself and so interested in the younger generation.

clematis montana marjorie

rose garden

From the rose garden,  the eye slides easily to the slim towers. The planting here in this garden room appears to have lost its way a little. Once upon a time at the end of ’60’s and into ’70’s, the theme was simple: roses and shrubs with some underplanting and quite a bit of soil showed – this was fine. But now with the custodianship of the National Trust there appears to be a need to provide a continuous show of anything and everything – a fruit salad look has evolved with any old thing popped in to ‘please the punters’. Big organisations taking the individuality out of their product and, in this situation, not the head gardener or gardeners fault. Happily the planting in the Cottage Garden has  maintained the original clear ethos  – planting with a predominance of  hot colours.

end of spring walk

Within the nuttery, Dionysus stands calm and thoughtful as he has for years – a quiet interface between the Spring Garden (now in quiet post season mode) and the Cottage Garden. A delightful detail was on show low down –  Tulip sprengeri around the peeling trunk of Acer griseum . . .

tulip sprengeri + acer stem cottage garden

. . . . here too a specimen Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ climbing skywards against the cottage walls.

mme alfred carriere rose cottage garden sissinghurst

Overhanging the walls of the Moat Walk are a couple of splendid Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba” . . .

wisreia florinbunda sissinghurst

wisteria floribunda alab sissinghurst

. . . and a single Wisteris venusta with larger fleshier foliage. A more  restrained, intriguing and, therefore, perhaps sought after plant.

wisteria venusta

Near the herb garden, back with the norm – a pair of mauve flowered wisteria standards – old and gnarled and exotic

wisteria sinensis sissinghurst

white garden sissinghurst

And at half past five, just the right time to enter the White Garden – another  Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ clothes a wall. The light starts to fade. A custodian arrives – someone delightful, a Gilbert and Sullivan character and part of the final act – to announce the closing of the garden . . . exit centre stage under a Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ on the tower.

white garden rose sissinghurst

rosa bansiae sissinhurst

All her youth is gone, her beautiful youth outworn,

Daughter of tarn and tor, the moors that were once her home

No longer know her step on the upland tracks forlorn

Where she was wont to roam.

All her hounds are dead, her beautiful hounds are dead,

That paced beside the hoofs of her high and nimble horse,

Or streaked in lean pursuit of the tawny hare that fled

Out of the yellow gorse.

All her lovers have passed, her beautiful lovers have passed,

The young and eager men that fought for her arrogant hand,

And the only voice which endures to mourn for her at the last

Is the voice of the lonely land. Vita Sackville-West Mariana in the North

 

1

Another year, another May, another Jack-in-the-Green and some delicate window displays, some enigmatic. One of the oldest public holidays in England – the celebration of Spring and the return of life to the land after long winter months. In this quaint seaside town, where passages and ‘twittens’ thread through the narrow streets that lead down to the net huts and fishing fleet on the beach, strange dressing up happens on this day . . .

1.2

3

 

6

 

passages + twittens

. . . locals and visitors stop and converse . . . but there’s a  focus on arriving by the net huts where Jack will be released and burst out centre stage. For previous posts click HERE. Posts from 2010 will pop up.

7

 

purple couple

big mix

The headgear always takes my eye immediately . . . so well crafted, so imaginative, so detailed, so individual . . .

headgear

headgear 2

. . . but some simple.

head gear 3

Often the couples dress as pairs but occasionally they can’t restrain themselves. The Hums, the couple below, are always intriguing and so beautifully ‘dressed’ – by themselves. Spend a few seconds looking at the craftsmanship of the back of her jacket and her headress – then Bob Hum’s shoes  – from Primark apparently.

hum's

hum's in parade

hum's rear

hum's hat

hum's footwear

Another couple who make returned visits . . . neat, elegant footwear

footwear 2

elegant pair

. . . thank you so much for your gracious presence. Costume detail absorbs me. But to get bak to the main event, Jack, clothed in foliage is like the cows let out into the meadow, full of frolics . . .

clothing

jack

jack mask

 

floral

Following the Jack and the Bogies are Mad Jack’s Morris, the Sweeps and the May Queen, Hannah’s Cat, The Lovely Ladies and the Gay Bogies, Giants, visiting performing groups and the rhythm section in no particular order.

large figure

large figure 2

A high vanatge point is useful . . .

up high 2

up high 5

up high

. . . but sometimes a lower position is required.

down low 2

down low 4

Music and drumming and, of course, dancing are integral elements . . .

music

music 2

music drumming

dancing

. . . motorbikes are also part of the day. A large exodus from South London, Kent and West Sussex arrive and fill the seafront down to St Leonards. Shiny metal, much revving and large leather nappies on the riders.

large bikes 1

large bikes 2

large bikes 3

large sweep

A mature ‘sweep’ with interesting headgear . . . quite delicate . . .

large sweep 2

large sweep headgear

. . . more costumes on the gregarious and the less so.

costume

headgear 8

head group

This year, a new group, displaying magnificent headresses  . . .  no clue on the concept or the rationale but good fun!

head

head 2

head close up

wolf head

headgear 7

But always time to greet friends and acquaintances when the procession has wound down to the Old Town High Street. Wonderful as always.

friends

 

headgear 9

last but one

last

This is the laughing-eyed amongst them all:

My lady’s month. A season of young things.

She rules the light with harmony, and brings

The year’s first green upon the beeches tall.

How often, where long creepers wind and fall

Through the deep woods in noonday wanderings,

I’ve heard the month, when she to echo sings,

I’ve heard the month make merry madrigal.

 

How often, bosomed in the breathing strong

Of mosses and young flowerets, have I lain

And watched the clouds, and caught the sheltered song –

Which it were more than life to hear again –

Of those small birds that pipe it all day long

Not far from Marly by the memoried Seine. Hilaire Belloc May

 

at the castle

April 23, 2015

OK, I’ve been sitting on this post for a week now and, within that week, the garden at Sissinghurst will have changed as gardens do. Some April sun to bring on the plants and fill out the borders but the temperatures are still low. So these images are just about relevent and the journey shown here is on the most obvious route. On arrival, a delicate pleasing planting in the urns in the forecourt,  even though the hyacinths are ‘over’ . . .

front vases

. . . and more delicious container planting – Iris bucharica and auriculas in the front courtyard under the tower.

iris bakeriana

auriculas

towers

Gloomy weather and not ideal for photography – too few shadows and a general sense of indistinct – although in this atmosphere the garden seemed to merge more successfully into the surroundings. From the top of the tower –  an overriding softness floating over a particular countryside . . .

from tower

from tower 1

chaenomeles

. . . but down on the ground, brilliant chaenomeles and an interesting signature below the gateway into the Rose Garden.

gateway

roller 1

Just peeking through another entrance from the Rose Garden . . .

roller 2

hazel

. . . this time of year, the expertise of the management of this special garden is easy to see and worth noting.

trained roses into orchard

view through

lime walk carpet

Perfection in Harold’s Lime Walk, ‘his life’s work’, where the carpet of spring bulbs, like overlaid small Persian rugs, weaves below the espaliered structure of the tree stems . . .

small carpet below lime lime walk

nuttery

. . . the effect relaxes through the Nuttery. The groupings are larger and the softness of tone provides a floating feel. Always admire the stonking trilliums that interupt the effect . . .

trillium in nuttery

detail

. . . and also the hard landscape detailing. Such craftsmanship; so sublime and impossible to find today. Big colour contrast in the Cottage Garden, as always . . .

cottage garden

orchard

. . . and out in the Orchard, snakes heads on the floor and blossom overhead.

blossom orchard

orchard amelanchier

moat 1

The moat is quite congested where it ends  – looks like someone else’s close by – but is cleaner where it runs . . .

moat 2

delos

In Delos, blossom abounds with spreads of anemone and magnolias in full frontal. It starts to rain – just a little  –  enough to take shelter in the library where this arrangement takes my attention. Colour  . . .

library

. . . but I’ve never taken to this colour composition – the Purple Border. Why? It’s a colour I like, but not here for some reason – perhaps this needs some analysis.

purple border

The White Garden is restful and low key in April – neat and composed – maybe overly so – but to be respected. Here she is reading a little from The Land.

white

Days I enjoy are days when nothing happens,

When I have no engagements written on my block,

When no one comes to disturb my inward peace,
When no one comes to take me away from myself
And turn me into a patchwork, a jig-saw puzzle,
A broken mirror that once gave a whole reflection,
Being so contrived that it takes too long a time
To get myself back to myself when they have gone.
The years are too strickly measured, and life too short
For me to afford such bits of myself to my friends.
And what have I to give my friends in the last resort?
An awkwardness, a shyness, and a scrap,
No thing that’s truly me, a bootless waste,
A waste of myself and them, for my life is mine
And theirs presumably theirs, and cannot touch. V Sackville West

 

from Murs

March 21, 2015

murs 1

A magnificent château dominates Murs . Murs was the haven and place where all the protestants (Cabrieres, Lacoste, Gordes) had settled to escape the persecution in mid 16th C.  – women,  children and old men. The feared baron of Oppede sent a lieutenant who started to defile the women and young girls, kill them and burn everything down they could find. Francois Morenas, a great Luberon specialist wrote about Murs:” Five years after the massacres their dried bones were still lying there”.

The walls circling the château are a thing of beauty. The building is privately owned and has quite a good deal of ‘f…k off’ emanating  but it’s not a spa or apparently hideously ruined by the corporate world, maybe  – who knows, all is hidden and discreet  . . .  . the trees are splendid.

murs 2

 

murs wall

murs 3

murs 4

Muscari are appearing in fields and verges. The acres of cherries and olive groves are carpeted with regular lines of  dandelion sometimes mixed with Eruca, wild rocket.  We decided on the Tour de Bérigoule circuit – 13kms – covering the valleys, the ‘balcones’ – the path that follows the contour of the rock face and offers up framed views to the east – and the 5 grottoes of a landscape that has strong historic references.

path

Good to look back and see the path that was covered early on . . .

view

rocks

. . . and the spoon shaped rock face to the west. While views from the balcones across the valley are quite mesmerizing . . .

view2

. . . dropping down to La Bouisse, passing a cerisaie where good management was evident. Prunings well stacked and just the start of the flowering performance. Of the prunus family, the almonds are in full flower with a delicious scent and apricots too nearer Orange.

cherries1

cherries2

cherries3

On the return to Murs. a formidable white oak stands sentinel at the entrance to the village – 16m spread.

quercus

It’s 3pm – school is finished and so are we after a long slightly taxing walk but that’s OK.

school

In a house which becomes a home,
one hands down and another takes up
the heritage of mind and heart,
laughter and tears, musings and deeds.
Love, like a carefully loaded ship,
crosses the gulf between the generations.
Therefore, we do not neglect the ceremonies
of our passage: when we wed, when we die,
and when we are blessed with a child;
When we depart and when we return;
When we plant and when we harvest.
Let us bring up our children. It is not
the place of some official to hand to them
their heritage.
If others impart to our children our knowledge
and ideals, they will lose all of us that is
wordless and full of wonder.
Let us build memories in our children,
lest they drag out joyless lives,
lest they allow treasures to be lost because
they have not been given the keys.
We live, not by things, but by the meanings
of things. It is needful to transmit the passwords
from generation to generation.  Antoine de Saint-Exupery

abandonné

March 4, 2015

cabanon1

A cabanon – small agricultural building – standing alone. Almost all are unused, neglected and generally in disrepair. These stone and tile constructions are liberally dotted across the landscape here in the Luberon and quite obvious now before the foliage on the cherries fills out. One is for sale for 95,000 euros in the village estate agent’s window. It is shown as a charming and romantic habitation decorated with a spread of wisteria frothing across the facade . . . water from the well but no electricity.  It’s a simple cabanon under the gentrification.

Cherry orchards interspersed with olives groves, vineyards and the occasional lavender field are the prime managed elements hugged by the indigenous white oak and pine woodland.  The generations of cherries show a marked variety of treatment. The ancient are left a while as skeletons and then decimated close to the ground before the roots are dug up – sounds harsh but there is a sort orf reverence for the trees that during life have produced hundreds of kilos of fruit.

cherry

 

cherries

cherries2

village

The village looks good from here – the chateau and windmill stand proud – clusters of pines within the chateau confines mark the highest point above the terraced terrain.

rainbow

Light playful showers tickle the senses. Clouds scud across Mont Ventoux . . .

cabanon 2

. . .  another cabanon comes into view. Turning to the east, the ochre rock of the Gardi and the remaining winter foliage on the oaks is pleasing. I hadn’t noticed this subtlety before – only being conscious of the more obvious contrasting dark tones of pine.

ochre

cabanon3

cabanon4

More abandoned buildings – stoic and solitary – not needed now for machinery, animals nor shelter.

village 2

And these two are not abandoned and not the slightest interested in my offerings of apples. The poem, more Beckett, he lived around here for a while after all and his poems have sparked an interest that is difficult to ignore. I can imagine those long thin legs striding out into this landscape.

horses

what would I do without this world faceless incurious
where to be lasts but an instant where every instant
spills in the void the ignorance of having been
without this wave where in the end
body and shadow together are engulfed
what would I do without this silence where the murmurs die
the pantings the frenzies towards succour towards love
without this sky that soars
above its ballast dust

what would I do what I did yesterday and the day before
peering out of my deadlight looking for another
wandering like me eddying far from all the living
in a convulsive space
among the voices voiceless
that throng my hiddenness

que ferais-je sans ce monde sans visage sans questions
où être ne dure qu’un instant où chaque instant
verse dans le vide dans l’oubli d’avoir été
sans cette onde où à la fin
corps et ombre ensemble s’engloutissent
que ferais-je sans ce silence gouffre des murmures
haletant furieux vers le secours vers l’amour
sans ce ciel qui s’élève
sur la poussieère de ses lests

que ferais-je je ferais comme hier comme aujourd’hui
regardant par mon hublot si je ne suis pas seul
à errer et à virer loin de toute vie
dans un espace pantin
sans voix parmi les voix
enfermées avec moi  Samuel Beckett

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