1 The ochre path that extends along the Luberon foothills around Roussillon to Gargas is quite special – originally quarried and now conserved and returned, as much as it can be with many visitors, back to nature. Glimpses of the red earth hillsides are quite tantalising from the surroundings . . . 2   4 but once inside, the experience becomes a theatrical drama – like walking through a turmeric landscape with mature and fresh young pines – Pinus sylvestris, P. halepensis and Pinus pinaster (the maritime pine) –  offering overhead foliage and a lime green ground cover texture. I’m still interested in the spatial areas where visitors can relax and get to grips with the environment, take it all in or just have a good chat. Here oak is used for the stepped circulation, seats and decks along with cor ten steel for the slim protecting elements like hand rails, bridge supports and gates . . . 5 seat   bridge   main steps   slopes young pine . . . a slim juvenile pine just holding on in the landform. Another vertical tower of the red earth looks like a drunken pepper pot . . .  . . . a visual experience and a good walk too.  The rationale behind including the Beckett beside his visit here is that there has been discussion on what is boring – life in general –  time away from work –  lack of social contact – just preferring to be elsewhere – to me, he explains eruditely in the last  3 phrases exactly why I feel so much at home – here; in a convulsive space among the voices voiceless that throng my hiddenness   and the whole poem: 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     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 Samuel Beckett que ferais-je sans ce monde (what would I do without this world)

http://provenceventouxblog.com/2013/on-the-market-samuel-beckett-house-in-provence-where-iconic-writer-engaged-in-his-craft-and-in-the-french-resistance/

1ysp centre

Through the glass of YSP (Yorkshire Sculpture Park) visitor centre – a very decent building by Fielden Clegg Bradley – tree canopies abound. Elements of the original parkland estate remain.

wall first glimpse

Yorkshire is synonymous with dry stone walls. This level of craftsmanship doesn’t appear often enough in counties to the south. The only person I know of who can select, cut and place stone well is Mr Swatton. He’d enjoy these modest but well built retaining walls . . .

wall1

wall 2

. . . the major exhibition is a survey of the work by Ursula von Rydingsvard – she works with wood – mostly Red Cedar – bronze, polyurethane resin and other more organic materials. Is she crafts person or  an artist? Or both? If I could, I be there to listen to her.

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uvon r sel

u von ry 2

camellia 3

In the Camellia House, her work sits well within the singular architecture.

camellia 1

camellia 2

A little history as provided by Pevsner The Buildings of England 1967: ‘Camellia House circa 1812 by Jeffrey Wyatt for Col. Thomas Richard and Diana Beaumont. Materials are ashlar stone and glass. A symmetrical composition of 7  x 1 bays plus a diagonal projecting bay at each corner. Square panelled piers to the front supporting the entablature . . . . full height glazing. Large round-arched windows  . . . framed by engaged Tuscan columns. Hipped glass roofs, separate over the projecting bays . . . Interior: niche at left and right. Scrolled iron brackets support the iron gutter and similar arched braces to roof apex. Iron tie rods to 2 intermediated trusses clasped by pairs of slender ion columns‘. It is a little gem.

camellia 2 detail

camellia  entrance 2

camellia detail 5

camellia detail2

Traditional furnishings alongside a strong masculine head by Frink . . . .

camellia frink

camellia detail 3

camellia detail

. . and a Pye water feature.

william pye 2

william pye

cascade bridge

The Cascade Bridge spans the Lower and Upper Lake and connects the gardenesque part of the estate with the pasture and woodland. A gentle and quite mesmerizing feature . . .

cascade bridge 2

. . . lost in thought here too.

menagerie wood

nash seventy one steps

David Nash made the Seventy-one Steps – amongst other site-specific works in 2010 along the walking route to Longside Gallery. This path runs along by some modest estate workers cottages and the quarry and the old well below. 

well

nash black mound

Another David Nash, Black Mound,  in a lovely setting. And a piece of Goldsworthy called Outclosure.

wall 3

ai weiwei

Ai Weiwei has taken over the Chapel both inside and out. Ming + Qing dynasty chairs fill the interior and a rather ugly ‘tree’ sits outside.

last

Walk over recognition to all those who have contributed financially and with their time and effort – on leaving or arriving. Much appreciated, thank you.

1 view

A stranger here
Strange things doth meet, strange glories see;
Strange treasures lodged in this fair world appear,
Strange all and new to me;
But that they mine should be, who nothing was,
That strangest is of all, yet brought to pass.    Thomas Traherne   The Salutation

When I wake the rains falling
and I think, as always, its for the best.
I remember how much I love rain,
the weakest and strongest of us all;

as I listen to its yeses and nos,
I think how many men and women

would, if they could,
against all sense and nature,

tax the rain for its privileges;

make it pay for soaking our earth
and splashing all over our leaves;

pay for muddying our grass
and amusing itself with our roots.

Let rain be taxed, they say
for riding on our rivers
and drenching our sleeves;

for loitering in our lakes
and reservoirs. Make rain pay its way.

make it pay for lying full length
in the long straight sedate green waters

of our city canals
and for working its way through processes

of dreamy complexity
until this too- long untaxed rain comes indoors,

and touches our lips,
bringing assuagement- for rain comes

to slake all our thirsts, spurting
brusque and thrilling in hot needles,

showering on to anyone naked;
or blaming our skins in the shape of scented baths.

Yes, they are many whod like to tax the rain;
even now, they whisper, it can be done, it must be done.      Penelope Shuttle     Taxing the Rain

geography and geometry

July 30, 2013

rgs 1

This oleander caused problems.  At the moment, it’s a show stopper along Exhibition Road but 10 years ago as we completed this project it was deemed dangerous, by one individual, due to its poisonous properties. Many plants are poisonous if eaten by humans. Many of its companions which are poisonous, if digested, remain in place. So the plant was lifted from the large rear terrace and re planted by the main public entrance of The Royal Geographical Society (IBG)  where visitors enter through the glass pavilion designed by Studiodownie. I could never fathom the reasoning for this decision.

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The pavilion makes a great shop window for exhibitions and the garden area beyond. The Society needed extra space for library, research rooms and lecture theatres, and so ground was excavated to house these facilities below a wide terrace with an adjoining sunken garden for outdoor events. Front of pavilion above and rear view below.

Studio-downie---Royal-geographic

The current exhibition – Travel Photographer of the Year –  fills the pavilion, the terrace and the sunken area. We designed large containers to edge the terrace as a safety precaution and also to hold the evergreen summer flowering Trachelospermum jasminoides which weave along the taut stainless steel wires to provide shade and give some privacy to the research rooms below. I was cheered to see how well this system was still working and that it remained aesthetically pleasing. The powerful fragrance filled the outside space.

rgs 2

rgs 4

The wide rear terrace floods off the ground floor eating rooms and hallways.  This planting looked rather over grown now and in need of some maintenance and was the original position for the oleander. Easy to see that clumps of oleander would provide colour amongst all the green. The plants on this south facing aspect were chosen as indigenous to the southern hemisphere while the north facing side was planted with species from other side of the equator – birch, robinia, bamboos, ferns etc etc.

rgs 5

rgs 6

Across Kensington Gore, the catalpa’s are flowering around the Serpentine Gallery and completing the composition with the temporary structure and the permanent building.

serp

serp catalpa

This year, Sou Fujimoto has conceived a see through rubic – horizontal escalation – of latticed powder coated steel. I love it and so do many others. It looks light weight and summery and appears to be practical. Of course, a good summer helps!

serp access

serp use 1

serp use 2

serp use 3

serp geometry

A friend, whose opinion I value, told me not to miss Genesis – Sebastião Salgado –  at the Natural History Museum. He was right  – it’s quite miraculous and I’ll go back again. This image of reindeer travelling over ice looking like a geometric pattern is mesmeric.

yamal peninsula siberia russia 2011 sebastiao segado

images

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Many of the images from Patagonia and Chile resonated clearly with me but all the regions of the world were documented in a highly particular way.

mus 1

Final stop of the day to see yet another exhibition – Green Fuse, the work of Dan Pearson at the Garden Museum in Lambeth. Here within this old churchyard, the sense of history preveils  . . .

mus g his

mus g hist detail 2

mus garden history detail

mus g hist arbutus

. . . . . but also geography, botany and horticulture. By the church is the tomb of the John Tradescants, father and son, plant hunters and collectors, who introduced many species collected from other geographic regions to this part of the world. Some are planted here.

mus g hist last

I climbed a ladder to . . .

Was it the moon or stars?

Was it to find a view,

A total world view of

Some magnitude? I had

Much daring once in love,

But daring balanced by

Hope and trust, I read

Of how wise men will try

Slowly to reach a state

Where there’s no argumnet

Man cannot know his fate

But he can face the rough

Returns, the storms of hate,

If only he will love

But love with purpose and

Direction. I can see

A ladder in my mind

A monument, I am free,

A moment understand. Elizabeth Jennings  I Climbed a Ladder

pagoda

July 6, 2013

across lake 2

The term ‘pagoda’ is quite often misused, and surprisingly often misused by those in the garden profession. Many times I have heard contractors define a timber structure as a pagoda when it should be termed pergola. There again pergolas are often confused with arbours . . .  but enough now on terminology. This tiered structure  ‘La Pagode de Chanteloupe’ was built as a folly within a large 18C country estate on the Loire. The gardens were laid out in patterned formality to include the necessaries – vegetable, decorative, copses + groves – by the architect Louis-Denis Le Camus for a Duke.

entrance

These gates and railings appear to be original, even though most of the infrastructure of the  estate was destroyed in the revolution.  Visible features today are the pagoda with semi circular basin, Petit Pavilion (concierge house) + 2 other pavilions in Louis XVI style – markers for the estate entrance. Until recently the long avenue of limes afforded a view from the small parking area by the road,  but now the first sighting is well and truly screened with hoardings – a shame – and the visitor is taken on a orchestrated route through ticket office, new Chinese garden and an area containing many traditional and rare children’s toys and games before being allowed through the gates and onto the shingle surround. The simplicity of this open shingle space in front of the structure is quite attractive not only visually . . .

beach

. . but also for those who want to play instead of absorbing factual info – 44m high, 7 storeys and each ring with 16 columns – with the main function of the pagoda being to follow the routes and actions of the hunting parties within the woods and forests of that era. The ladies, I imagine, were not invited to ascend and view – staircase is far too narrow for wide skirts!

view up 1

. . .

view up

from inside

The banister rail on the ground floor is cast iron  . . . . . .

staircase 1

balcony 3rd floor

bannister

. .  and mahogany on the higher levels. Looking through to what were the original garden areas – now fields –  it’s relatively easy to imagine the scale of the gardened grounds.

to garden

once garden

Below shows a proposed ground plan showing the château outlined in red and the central axis to the water features with the pagoda (largish dot) to the right. Also a bird’s-eye view showing the formality and precision of the garden layout.

plan_du_domaine__du_chateau_et_des_jardins_reguliers

Le_chateau_de_Chanteloup_Van_Blarenberghe

stair well

Peering down from the highest landing  . . .

ceiling dome

. . . and up to the domed ceiling. Ah, the craftsmanship of the past. Mr Swatton could do it but not many others nowadays.

garden items

There are just a few signs of garden features – just enough to feel the character and ambience.

‘A dream of blue horizons I would garble
With thoughts of fountains weeping on to marble,
Of gardens, kisses, birds that ceaseless sing,’

across lake landscape

across lake

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Je veux, pour composer chastement mes églogues,
Coucher auprès du ciel, comme les astrologues,
Et, voisin des clochers écouter en rêvant
Leurs hymnes solennels emportés par le vent.
Les deux mains au menton, du haut de ma mansarde,
Je verrai l’atelier qui chante et qui bavarde;
Les tuyaux, les clochers, ces mâts de la cité,
Et les grands ciels qui font rêver d’éternité.

II est doux, à travers les brumes, de voir naître
L’étoile dans l’azur, la lampe à la fenêtre
Les fleuves de charbon monter au firmament
Et la lune verser son pâle enchantement.
Je verrai les printemps, les étés, les automnes;
Et quand viendra l’hiver aux neiges monotones,
Je fermerai partout portières et volets
Pour bâtir dans la nuit mes féeriques palais.
Alors je rêverai des horizons bleuâtres,
Des jardins, des jets d’eau pleurant dans les albâtres,
Des baisers, des oiseaux chantant soir et matin,
Et tout ce que l’Idylle a de plus enfantin.
L’Emeute, tempêtant vainement à ma vitre,
Ne fera pas lever mon front de mon pupitre;
Car je serai plongé dans cette volupté
D’évoquer le Printemps avec ma volonté,
De tirer un soleil de mon coeur, et de faire
De mes pensers brûlants une tiède atmosphère. Charles Baudelaire Paysage

More chasteness to my eclogues it would give,
Sky-high, like old astrologers to live,
A neighbour of the belfries: and to hear
Their solemn hymns along the winds career.
High in my attic, chin in hand, I’d swing
And watch the workshops as they roar and sing,
The city’s masts — each steeple, tower, and flue —
And skies that bring eternity to view.

Sweet, through the mist, to see illumed again
Stars through the azure, lamps behind the pane,
Rivers of carbon irrigate the sky,
And the pale moon pour magic from on high.
I’d watch three seasons passing by, and then
When winter came with dreary snows, I’d pen
Myself between closed shutters, bolts, and doors,
And build my fairy palaces indoors.

A dream of blue horizons I would garble
With thoughts of fountains weeping on to marble,
Of gardens, kisses, birds that ceaseless sing,
And all the Idyll holds of childhood’s spring.
The riots, brawling past my window-pane,
From off my desk would not divert my brain.
Because I would be plunged in pleasure still,
Conjuring up the Springtime with my will,
And forcing sunshine from my heart to form,
Of burning thoughts, an atmosphere that’s warm.

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

facade 1

facade 2

faacade

And acte 11 of the double post. At the Collection Lambert in the  Hôtel de Caumont to see:’Oriental Mirages, Pomegranates and Prickly Pears. Mediterranean Comings and Goings’

“In the present day the Arab world allows itself to be seen by the rest of the world via satellite, internet and the Twitter generation, yet it used to be described to Westerners by writers and artists that carried out long and gruelling journeys that sometimes took months or even years”.

poster

Mounted together – an antique cupboard containing  a small library of books by Ginsberg,  Bowles and others put together by Robert Rauschenberg alongside a video by David Claerbout. Enough said – inspirational balance.

antique cupboard

Also inspirational are the sketchbooks from Matisse and Le Corbusier. The low afternoon light floods the galleries . . .

blue room guard

gallery inside

blue room reflected

blue room sun

sun

. . . all around the exotic mix of the old and the contemporary.

roof vista

reflections

A staircase need never be just a staircase . . .

stairwell

stairwell 2

A classroom that most would want to play and to discover in . . .

classroom

class room2

. .  and then the exhibit/installation/artwork?? from the other side. I discover this is by Mona Hatoum, “Nature morte aux grenades”.

gallery outside

ring

A final piece  – very clever – the air from the fan interacts with the ring encouraging a mesmerising dancing movement.

ring 2

ring 1

Thank you to the artists:

Adel Abdessemed, Kader Attia, François Augiéras, Francis Bacon, Miquel Barceló, Yto Barrada, J.-J. Benjamin-Constant, Charles Betout, Étienne Billet, Jean-Charles Blais, Félix Bonfils, A. Bonnichon, Paul Bowles, Alexandre Cabanel, Auguste Chabaud, David Claerbout, Georges Clairin, Robert Combas, Géo Condé, Charles Cordier, Pascal Coste, Louis-Amable Coulet, Edward-Gordon Craig, André Réda Dadoun, Marie-Hélène Dasté, Tacita Dean, Édouard Debat-Ponsan, Émilie Deckers, Eugène Delacroix, Jules Didier, Jason Dodge, Isabelle Eberhardt, Emir El Qiz, Joseph Eysséric, Spencer Finch, Claire Fontaine, Théodore Frère, Eugène Fromentin, Paul Armand Gette, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Louis-Amable Grapelet, Zaha Hadid, Mona Hatoum, J.-A.-D. Ingres, Zilvinas Kempinas, Bouchra Khalili, Idris Khan, Anselm Kiefer, Jules Laurens, Le Corbusier, Henri Lehmann, Simon-Bernard Lenoir, Hamid Maghraoui, Henri Matisse, Théodore Monod, Moataz Nasr, Carlo Naya, Shirin Neshat, Jean Noro, Jean Nouvel, Yan Pei-Ming, Régis Perray, Pierre et Gilles, Isidore Pils, Walid Raad, Robert Rauschenberg, Michal Rovner, Charles Sandison, Moussa Sarr, Julian Schnabel, Pascal Sébah, Andres Serrano, Waël Shawky, Joseph Sintes, Djamel Tatah, Cy Twombly, Lawrence Weiner

vestibule

farewell

Check out an associated post here

I’ve lived beneath huge portals where marine
Suns coloured, with a myriad fires, the waves;
At eve majestic pillars made the scene
Resemble those of vast basaltic caves.

The breakers, rolling the reflected skies,
Mixed, in a solemn, enigmatic way,
The powerful symphonies they seem to play
With colours of the sunset in my eyes.

There did I live in a voluptuous calm
Where breezes, waves, and splendours roved as vagrants;
And naked slaves, impregnated with fragrance,

Would fan my forehead with their fronds of palm:
Their only charge was to increase the anguish
Of secret grief in which I loved to languish.  Roy Campbell, Former Life

Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

arch mus lapider nave

This is acte 1 of a double acte post.  At Le Musée Lapidaire where Medieval and Gallo-Roman sculptures of the Calvet Collection are housed, the experience is educational. The ecclesiastical building, a former Collège des Jésuites, sits on the main route into the historic centre of  Avignon. Visitors and locals stream passed to and from the stations probably unaware that a museum lies within. The building retains a confident aura although the use has changed into an environment for stone statues, friezes, funery urns and other ‘finds’ from earlier centuries. These are very beautiful in subject matter  – figures both human and animal – and in the craft of the execution.

arch mus lapider 1

arch mus lapider 2

arch mus lapider 9

arch mus lapidere 4

arch mus lapidere 5

The insect world and the botanic world are also treated with a sense of reverence as well as delight . . .

arch mus lapider. 7

arch mus lapider 8

arch mus lapider 3

arch mus lapider 11

arch mus lapider 6.

Pure compositions occur whether meant intentionally or just  in the accumulation of storage.

arch mus lapider 10

arch mus lapider composition

A short step across the street in Rue du Pourtail Bouquier, is another Jesuit building. Once a seminary, and then an officers’ hospital, and then a hospice, and now a hotel and restaurant with eye watering prices. Forgive the sarcasm . . . .

cloitre1

cloitre 2

. .  the mature trees and the surrounding built facades are one.

cloitre 3

As the sun swings round, a sense of theatricality and memory fills the courtyard. An art installation or is it merely items on their way somewhere? And old crafts, like the laying of pebbles, will never be the same again.

cloitre 4

composition

pebble finish

On to Rue Violette and the Collection Lambert . . .

lambert outside

facade 1

J’ai longtemps habité sous de vastes portiques
Que les soleils marins teignaient de mille feux,
Et que leurs grands piliers, droits et majestueux,
Rendaient pareils, le soir, aux grottes basaltiques.

Les houles, en roulant les images des cieux,
Mêlaient d’une façon solennelle et mystique
Les tout-puissants accords de leur riche musique
Aux couleurs du couchant reflété par mes yeux.

C’est là que j’ai vécu dans les voluptés calmes,
Au milieu de l’azur, des vagues, des splendeurs
Et des esclaves nus, tout imprégnés d’odeurs,

Qui me rafraîchissaient le front avec des palmes,
Et dont l’unique soin était d’approfondir
Le secret douloureux qui me faisait languir.  Charles Baudelaire  La Vie Antérieure

modern collection

I like spaces in galleries and museums that feel like living rooms – relaxing into an easy chair, picking up a magazine, book or sheet of notes relating to the exhibits brings a whole new dimension to the experience. In the Fondation Calvet, the 20 C collection is hung in the Victor Martin room with  Vlaminck, Soutine, Chabaud well represented together with a quite lovely Bonnard ‘Jour d’hiver’. Crisp morning light floods the rooms, bouncing off glass and perspex surfaces to multiply shapes and colours in other dimensions. The only three dimensional form is a Masque Iba from Nigeria with a dramatic headdress or maybe just a skilful coiffure . . .

mask

. . the sculpture gallery with double aspect and marble floor is 18C. It provides an environment for the neo-classical figures with a fragile quality. Touch it or make too loud a noise and it’ll shatter. A graceful staircase carries the visitor to the first floor of this once privately owned mansion in Rue Joseph Vernet in Avignon. The gallery and sumptuously grand 19C salon house an eclectic mix of paintings and sculptures . . . .

avignon-29-12-2012-21

staircase 2

staircase

1st floor

. . . views down to the courtyard show the usual, simple and correct contained landscape. Fussiness in planting is not required with such stylish architecture. So the role of the garden is for tree planting to provide shade under which to relax in the hot Provence summer sun and  . . .  mentioned by Stendhal as ” large trees of the garden”  in his Memories of a Tourist.

c yard

To the north, the humble arched portal of a side access is dwarfed now by more recent bâtiments.

exterieur

The foundation contains objects, paintings, tapestries, faïence, bronzes, books, coins and decorative metalwork accumulated by 2 enlightened benefactors, Esprit Calvet and Marcel Puech. Calvet also collected ancient Egyptian artefacts. The solemnity of the aura surrounding the display of these was broken by a party of young school children doing a lot of colouring in on fact sheets. Giggles, some tears and general hubbub of teaching and maintaining order passed around the cased mummies until suddenly, just before midday, the little people made a fast exit leaving a sense of calm to re-establish once again.

mummies

mummies2

mummies3

Small alabaster urns have their own presence set neatly within recesses as do the monumental vases in the entrance.

urns

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The winter sun is low and hardly touches the ground plane of the calade pebbles from the Rhone bed. Laid as a decorative carpet using only stones with brown tones.

front

How the light invades the Romantic room where the painting that was the talk of the 1850 salon is hung.

final

It sounded as if the Streets were running

And then – the Streets stood still –

Eclipse – was all we could see at the Window

And Awe – was all we could feel.

By and by – the boldest stole out of his Covert

To see if Time was there –

Nature was in an Opal Apron,

Mixing fresher Air.    Emily Dickinson

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