February 24, 2013
Still frames are revealed in winter – there’s a clarity which the summer light diffuses – projections, simple statements, unexpected compositions. More wonderment on the exterior wall of Saint-Martin, the main church in San-Rémy-de –Provence, than within the dark interior – the organ is famous not only for for the sound it produces but also its ‘chest’.
Another religious building to the south of town has a cloistered garden. Saint Paule de Mausole is still a psychiatric hospital – van Gogh was treated there before returning to the north and ending his life. His output during that year was prolific mainly focused on the gardens and the countryside of Les Alpilles. Enclosed gardens are a big draw. This cloistered space was shut to visitors but, a small door was left enticingly open, so the opportunity to breathe in a little of the peaceful atmosphere was quickly taken!
Iris unguicularis just coming into flower . . . van Gogh painted the many of forms of iris flowering here.
Purity in another form – of stone and architecture – just close by at the ancient site of the Roman city. The mausoleum of the Julii and the triumphal arch stand intact. The carved dedication: SEX · M · L · IVLIEI · C · F · PARENTIBVS · SVEIS
Sextius, Marcus and Lucius Julius, sons of Gaius, to their forebears.
Corinthian columns support the chapel with a conical roof carved in a fish scale pattern. Gorgons, quadrifons, putti and cupids are also included in the carvings of mythical and legendary scenes of battle between the Greeks and their enemies – Amazons + Trojans. Acanthus foliage, the plant of the Roman mortuary, included too as a sign of eternal rebirth. The image below shows the scale.
The triumphal arch, the Northern gate, to the city of Glanum is carved with figures of Gaullish prisoners showing the power of Rome and the threat of what might happen if . . . .
. . high above Eygalières, stand the ruins of the château and the Chapelle des Pénitents. Pine trees surround the 17C buildings which dominate the olive and vine filled countryside lining the path of the Durance river.
A peaceful Saturday with a little activity for those who play Pétanque.
“When I opened my eyes I saw nothing but the pool of nocturnal sky, for I was lying on my back with out-stretched arms, face to face with that hatchery of stars. Only half awake, still unaware that those depths were sky, having no roof between those depths and me, no branches to screen them, no root to cling to, I was seized with vertigo and felt myself as if flung forth and plunging downward like a diver.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars
In the crazed mirror of my eye
the world is flawed irrevocably,
I walk without the grace of sight,
who made my whole world visually.
What giant hand above my head
shattered the mirror of the sky,
and left me with a blinded face;
dependent on an inner eye
to recreate the universe,
to force into the face of light
a world so faceted and bright,
refracting light, reflecting love,
out of an eye so picked with pain,
that none can see it, none can build
such private glasshouse in the brain. Dorothy Hewett The Glass-House