Monday, November 16, 2009
Imagine my surprise when I ran across a farm right in the middle of town. Dale had mentioned that there were farms, but I had imagined them farther out. This one had fields of onions and other crops I couldn’t identify from a distance. Everything was perfectly tended and groomed and wonderfully prolific. It is in the tradition of the family farm that has been the heart and soul of French agriculture for centuries. It is also the front yard for several homes and apartment buildings.
Everywhere you turn here, there is something striking to see or hear or smell. Often it is the mere newness that grabs your attention. I don’t mean new as in “recent” but new as in “different”. The scale and proportion of the buildings. The colors of the stones. The smell of baguettes baking. Voices speaking in words you don’t recognize. The sound of footsteps on cobblestones. The amazing thing is to see or hear something that is familiar. There is a church nearby that rings bells on the hour. It reminds me of the bells at Indiana University when I was there forty-some years ago. That sounds oddly familiar!
My colleagues, Lucie van der Zijde, Mikang Lim and Sally Walk, have been incorporating some of the sights of Vallauris into their work. I went to their studio today to see what’s up and was delighted by what I saw. I’m only showing one image for each at this point, but there will be more.
Lucie is taken with the variety of plant life and has interpreted palm trees in these beautiful bottle forms. As she points out, they are upside down. But that shows the magic of real invention from inspiration. She is not making palm trees, she is making her response to palm trees.
Mikang saw a door-knocker in the shape of a hand, a traditional form in Provence and I remember seeing it in Portugal, too. It inspired her to create her own little hands that then became handles on cups and pitchers she had already thrown.
And Sally zeroed in on architectural details, the slats of the ubiquitous shutters, the cobblestone patterns in so many of the streets, a wave pattern that occurs in many of the manhole covers and a curve seen in the ironwork. These all have become elements in this sculptural piece.
All of this work is unfired and has a way to go before it is finished. But the strength of the forms is undeniable. And the direct response to this new place has been incorporated into a vocabulary that is strong and individual. I can’t wait to see what’s next.