Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A Room with a View

Last Friday was my last day at school. An emotional day that concluded a fantastic and memorable year! It was a great location to work, not the least because for a year I had one of the best views in Paris. Being perched in the high side of the Seine, I never tired of the outlook from the art room that stretched across the rooftops to take in that iconic monument, the Eiffel Tower. It was one spectacular view and in the daily grind of day to day school life (which in many ways is similar the world over), a quick glimpse would continue to remind me just exactly where I was. Although its image is used to such an extent as to become almost a Paris cliché, Jules and I just love it. Not a day has gone by when we haven’t simply stared up in amazement at its perfectly proportioned ‘meccano-like’ form. It’s subtle changing colours at various times of the day and its spectacular night illuminations have remained spellbinding. We have particularly loved running around it early in the morning before the tourists had arrived, feeling that just for that moment it was all ours. It has been our beacon when we were disorientated walking the streets of Paris and a welcoming signpost that always pointed us back towards our little apartment.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

In Search of Vincent

Recently Jules and I completed a fascinating journey that had lasted several months, as we followed in the footsteps of the troubled and somewhat misunderstood artist Vincent Van Gogh. It began at his studio in Montmartre, but eventually saw us making our way to the countryside of Provence to stand in the very locations where many of his most famous works were painted. Journeying to the town of Arles, we saw the spot were he once shared a house with Gauguin, which also coincided with the famous ear cutting incident. We visited the hospital where he convalesced, with its beautiful Spanish style courtyard and drank coffee at the café featured in the painting ‘Café Terrace at Night’, with both remaining quite the same as in his time. We ventured to the nearby town of St. Remy where Van Gogh spent a year in the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole-Asylum. We sat in the walled garden where he had spent many an hour and I pulled out my watercolour box to render a quick homage to the moment. The tranquillity, the iris in bloom and the gentle spring light was almost spiritual! The trail soon continued back to the township of St.Remy, which was dotted with sign posts indicating the location of many of his most famous works. The final stage of the journey was completed quite recently with a short train trip from Paris to the town of Auvers sur Oise where Van Gogh spent his final days under the care of Dr. Gachet. He painted many celebrated works in this lovely town and of course his final work, ‘Wheatfield with Crows', with its three paths going in different directions can still be seen in the fields at the edge of the town. Nearby the graves of Van Gogh and his brother Theo can be found, quite humble but carefully maintained. Our journey is now complete and we both feel that we have learned so much more about the artist than just reading a book or viewing his works in a gallery. We saw these places through his eyes and like him became enthused. The beauty of the landscape and simplicity of a way of life that still remains inspirational.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Pop Art hits Paris!

Over the past few weeks my year 9 art class have been working productively to build a colourful collection of ‘crawling critters’ with the notion of creating a temporary pop art sculpture in Paris. They had been studying 'public art' and were keen to create their own collaborative art work that would create some attention. Today was the day... the sun was shining and the crowds were heading toward Trocadero to watch France play possibly their final world cup game on the big screen. As they walked the Pont d’lena in front of the Eiffel Tower they were confronted with an army of yellow, blue and red crawling creatures arranged in interesting configurations by the young artists. The crowd reaction was very positive as by passers photographed the activity. The students enjoyed the attention and the sculpture temporarily became a colourful addition to one of the great locations of the world.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Les Puses - Paris

Visited Les Puses on the weekend which is something we had promised ourselves we would do on a previous short visit to Paris and it has come down to the last weeks of living here before we have done it. ‘Les Puces’ is probably the biggest flea market in Europe selling everything from cheap brand rip-offs to expensive antiques. You would think that with hundreds of stalls to look at we would find one unique souvenir of Paris but alas no…lots of junk and the few gems that we did see were quite expensive. Of course weight is always an issue for nomadic adventurers such as ourselves, so that was another factor to be considered. It’s certainly a bustly place, but a bit grotty in parts. As you come up above ground from the metro there are many shady characters thrusting fist loads of sunglasses, hats, lighters or cigarettes in your general direction. When you walk further and escape the tatty market and wander into the tiny alleys, it’s more sane and you can meander around some interesting shops without being hassled. It was made even more pleasant on the day we were there as there were a series of impromptu jazz performances dotted throughout the area, which were brilliant!