Small sweet gestures …

Posted: October 22nd, 2012 | Author: Kathryn | Filed under: garden | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

This morning on the way to the post office we noticed that one of our neighbours roof tiles had come free leaving a gaping hole is his old barn. Inside this barn are hanging thousands of onions from the summer harvest, a leak could have been devastating to his curing crop. He is 85 years old our neighbour, and upon return of the run-away tile asked Aris if he would mind climbing up through the rafters to re-set it. In return for this tiny deed he handed over a small paper bag with four fresh eggs inside. These moments are precious, nothing could be warmer than the sharing of fresh produce, sweet barter! I hope you all have a great week …


Roulez Carrosses – The carriages of the Château de Versailles

Posted: October 9th, 2012 | Author: Kathryn | Filed under: museum or gallery, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

On show at the Museum of fine arts in Arras until the 10th of November 2013 is a outstanding exhibition of the carriages and coaches of the Royal court of the Chateau of Versailles. Ten years ago, the carriage museum at Versailles (Musée des Carrosses de Versailles) was closed to the public with this occasion being the first that the royal coaches of Versailles have been loaned out for exhibition. There are only seven coaches on display but they are exquisite examples of the wealth and craftsmanship invested in these opulent vehicles. Used for a number of royal occasions, coronations, marriages, christenings and funerals, they would have been a marvelous site to see on route. Charles the 10th’s extraordinary coronation vehicle is covered entirely in gold. Rich, opulent and splendid it is a breathtaking experience walking into the room that houses it. And the funeral coach of Louis 18th would have been an overwhelming sight, a huge black and ominous carriage carrying the coffin and body of the King, laden with silk and gold drawn by eight heavily ornamented black horses.

Accompanying the coaches there are a number of wonderful works of art and a sensational collection of sleds. Sledding was introduced to the Versailles court in the late 17th Century, a past time inspired by Nordic Royals. Members of the court would race around the Grand canal, iced over during the winter or on the roads and paths covered with snow in the garden and park of Versailles. I loved the floor to ceiling photographic/artwork installations used to illustrate the mood throughout the exhibition. I’ve seen this technique used quite extensively throughout France and Belgium and it always works very well.

A very good film in the final room, also on a grand scale with the screen running floor to ceiling, documents the evolution of carriage suspension in a constant effort to solve issues of comfort, going far beyond padded and sprung interior furniture, paving the way for modern vehicles.

It is a unique experience to see these carriages and one that I suspect may not come around too often. This exhibition is in fact the first exhibition of its kind ever in France. In a National effort to revitalise the North of France and decentralise culture, the Roulez Carrosses is a wonderful opportunity that you shouldn’t miss if you are traveling near by. If not, I hope that you enjoy the photographs that I have taken and that they give you a good sense of this brilliant exhibition.

A striking sculpture by Xavier Veilhan at the entry to the Museum of fine arts in Arras:

Roulez Carrosses

There are four halls in the palace, running every side of the enclosed courtyard The still and empty halls gives one a lovely opportunity to imagine those who’ve wandered these floors in the past, how they dressed and how they would ponder and reflect as the walked the long distances around the palace:

Museum of fine arts, Arras

The immaculate courtyard, I don’t think that I noticed a door along the halls but there must have been:

Museum of fine arts, Arras

This coach belonged to the 8 year old son of Louis 16th and Marie-Antoinette, it is miniature in comparison to the other coaches on display;

Roulez Carrosses coach belonging to son of Louis 16th and Marie-Antoinette

A Sedan chair:

Roulez Carrosses Versailles sedan chair

Towards the end of the seventeenth century the court of Versailles adopted the Nordic pastime of sled racing:

Roulez Carrosses Versailles sleds

Roulez Carrosses Versailles sled

A magical leopard sled, carved in about 1730:

Roulez Carrosses leopard sled

Roulez Carrosses leopard sled

Roulez Carrosses leopard sled

Roulez Carrosses

A coach built for the marriage of Napoleon 1st and Marie-Louise, 1810:

Roulez Carrosses

The coach used for the baptism of the Duke of Bordeaux in 1821:

Roulez Carrosses

The coach of the coronation of Charles the 10th, drawn by eight horses:

Roulez Carrosses coach coronation charles 10th

Roulez Carrosses coach coronation charles 10th

Roulez Carrosses coach coronation charles 10th

Roulez Carrosses coach coronation charles 10th

Roulez Carrosses coach coronation charles 10th

Roulez Carrosses coach coronation charles 10th

Roulez Carrosses coach coronation charles 10th

Roulez Carrosses coach coronation charles 10th

The only preserved Royal hearse in France, it is the funeral coach of Louis the 18th:

Roulez Carrosses coach of Louis 18th

Roulez Carrosses coach of Louis 18th

Roulez Carrosses coach of Louis 18th

A coach built in the 1880s by Ehrler, a famous Parisian coach builder, designed for comfort it has an eight-spring suspension system:

Roulez Carrosses coach designed by Ehrler

Roulez Carrosses coach wheels


Le Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse – Hospice Comtesse

Posted: October 3rd, 2012 | Author: Kathryn | Filed under: Uncategorized, travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

In Vieux Lille (old Lille) there is a yellow and terracotta building that just about everyone who visits Lille will walk by. Although it sits amongst the main shopping area and is very large, it is surprisingly easy to walk past. I knew the building having walked past it so many times and had assumed it to be private but got struck with curiosity one day and stuck my head in. As it turned out, the site had belonged to Jeanne de Constantinople, the Countess of Flanders who founded a hospital in the original buildings in 1237. In 1468, a fire completely destroyed the original buildings but it was rebuilt immediately. Another fire in 1649 destroyed part of the site. Between the years of 1649 and 1657 the current buildings were built and it seems to be in the same condition. The inside is impressive, it has an authentic feel of life and living during the 17th Century, I was enthralled! Unfortunately I didn’t get many great photos but these will give you an idea of what it is like. The dorm on the first floor houses a museum containing decorative objects, architectural fixtures and paintings. It is concise and illuminating.

The Hospice from inside the courtyard. Access is through a gate to the right that opens onto Rue de la Monnaie, a wonderful shopping and eating street:

The medicinal garden that houses a very old rosemary tree with a thick trunk like none I had seen before:

The kitchen, tiled floor to ceiling in hand painted tiles. You will notice two doors above the file place. This large cavity was used to store food, flour and cured meats for example:

There were many different tiny scenes throughout the room but they are arranged in groups of the same image or theme, on the wall below you can see fish, turtles and boats in the lower group and men and women standing on a bank in the upper group:

The walls are covered in art that appears to hang as it would have at the time, not simply for exhibition. Many of the walls are paneled in wood which cleverly camouflages the large and bulky wooden furniture used for storage:

Wooden building fixtures on display in the museum:

There are two huge astrological globes that are unlike anything I have ever seen. The surface of each globe has been covered in paper that has been lithographed (I guess). They are exceptional, beautiful works. Each panel of paper is shaped so that the images come together when adhered to the globe:

Detail of the globe, exceptional:

As I understand it, parades were held where all of the groups and trades were represented by these very large wooden, I’m sorry, I have no idea what they are called, but they are used in the same way as a flag. On the top of the pole, a carved sculpture would symbolise their trade or group:

An example, possibly traders of bulk goods?:


Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille – Museum of Fine Arts, Lille

Posted: September 24th, 2012 | Author: Kathryn | Filed under: museum or gallery, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Last week we popped into the Palais des Beaux Arts in Lille, not being an exhaustive museum it only took us a couple of hours to see all of the rooms. The building is beautiful, grand and majestic. You feel closer to the walls in this museum when compared to other, more laden galleries. It can at times feel more as if you have entered a palace with a large collection of art rather than a building holding so much art that you don’t notice it at all. There is plenty of space so you can walk freely through the rooms and have a small sense of what the building would have been like when in private use.

These are the things that I saw that stood out this time. The light was just right in the marble room, just right!

Ernest-Eugéne Hiolle, Narcisse, 1868;

Alfred Agache, Etude de vieille femme, 1880;

Antoine Vollon (1833-1900), Vase de fleurs;

Antoine Vollon (1833-1900), Vase de fleurs, detail;

Emile Bernard, Aprés le bain, les nymphes, 1908;

Carolus-Duran born charles Emile Auguste Durant, L’Homme endormi, 1861;

Augustin-Théodule Ribot, Saint Vincent, 1860;

Augustin-Théodule Ribot, Saint Vincent, 1860, close;

A section of floor in the Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille;