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Showing posts from December, 2015

Et en fin

The last leg of my French sojourn, I continued to build on esoteric knowledge of this incredibly rich region. My new friend Jeannette Rogers, another Fellow at Moulin a Nef, is a translator of medieval troubadour poetry from the original language of Occitan into both modern French and English. I never knew of this language, nor of the Cathars , the peace-loving, vegetarian Christian sect that was wiped out during the Inquisition. The Cathar cross, which you will see everywhere in Toulouse. After 2 and a half weeks in Auvillar, I spent three days in Toulouse, a city I fell in love with. The rest of the Fellows were all set to go home and I would have been alone at Moulin a Nef. I couldn't face it, so I booked myself a little side trip to this fascinating city. It seemed to me to be about the size of Providence RI, and a river runs through it, too. Toulouse, France That is where I was when the Paris attacks of Nov. 13 occurred. In fact, I only knew about it because

Plus encore...

Continuing the story of my French adventure... thanks to my wonderful high school French teacher, Jean Price, I was able to both understand and make myself understood. Incroyable! This was France Profund, or "deep France", as the natives call it because it is so non-touristy. It was especially quiet in November. The thousands of summer pilgrims on the Chemin de St. Jacques had dwindled to just a few, and there were many times when walking around Auvillar that we felt we were the only ones around for miles. Among the many esoteric things that I learned about this area: pigeonniers , otherwise known as "dovecotes" or places for pigeons to hang out. Seriously, the wealthy landowners of old built these exquisite buildings on their land much to the dislike of their tenants. The smell and noise was probably obnoxious. But look how beautiful! Square pigeonnier. Octagonal pigeonnier. Square pigeonnier. So what did I find to photograph, what drew my visu

La Belle France

This November, I was fortunate to have a residency in Auvillar, France in the south west of the country. Part of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, this residency is only available to past Fellows of VCCA. It had always been  my dream to do a residency in Europe. Though it is challenging to make art while also trying to absorb a new place that strongly beckons you to engage with the culture and history, I did manage to respond to my surroundings. Auvillar's famous granary, built in the 1800s and now the site of the Sunday market. Auvillar itself is a charming, medieval village once famous for painted pottery and goose quill pens. Now it is a sleepy, magical village on the pilgrimage trail, known as the Chemin de St. Jacques de Compostelle.  The view from the top of Auvillar, overlooking the Garonne River. Novelist and ceramicist Betty Joyce Nash , left, and Sabine, who lives in Auvillar. Fantastic photographer! Random beauty: seedpod of Chinese Lantern