So that last post was a fairly superficial update on things. You might be wondering what else is going on? You might not. Either way, I’d like to post about the other stuff that’s going on during this grand adventure.
Swapping lives with 4 other families in 2 different countries is bound to have some effect, don’t you think?
For us, we’re learning a lot. We’re understanding more about the places we want to live – town, village or city; the utilities we prefer for a comfortable existence; the internal set up of our ideal house – where we want our office to be located; the climate; the activities we like to indulge in; the knowledge we still would like to acquire. The list is pretty enormous, and it grows every day.
Perhaps the most important experience for me is that I can’t wait to turn my attention to time getting creative away from the computer and websites. I want to feel the physical sensation of getting my hands stuck into some clay and moulding a piece of me from the earth… I want to put some colour on a piece of paper and leave something of me in the physical world rather than the internet.
What was it that re-awoke my creative energy? A visit to the Robert Tatin Museum back in house exchange no 2.
I had never come across Robert Tatin before, and it was really only by chance that I was looking through some tourist information which described some nearby attractions to house exchange no 2. The museum was described as a ‘village’ full of Robert Tatin’s sculptures.
Before we got to experience any of the ‘museum’, we were invited to watch a short film introduction to the man himself, Robert Tatin – and how the museum came to be.
It was not a detailed introduction but it made it very clear that Robert Tatin was a very special man. His work at the Museum was begun at the age of 60 after a long career as a businessman, craftsman and painter. He carried on completing the Museum for the next 20 odd years until his death there at age 82.
After many long years traveling the world and working all over France, he had returned to the countryside near his place of birth in Laval, Pays de la Loire.
Now, he had decided to leave his legacy – and boy, what a legacy. In fact, one day is really not enough to try and absorb the impact of Tatin’s work. I was left processing my Museum experience for many days. The symbolism, the mysticism, the meta-physical, the philosophical. Every single piece carries meanings far outwith my ability to compute.
The Museum starts with the avenue of Giants. Huge cement ‘statues’ representing different stages in Tatin’s life. The Giants were in fact erected on either side of a communal pathway, leading down to his house La Frenouse, which he rebuilt almost from scratch.
The Dragon acts as a guard to the house, and the Garden of Meditations. The Garden of Meditations could have kept us fully engaged for at least a week, I think.
We took loads of photos, but I wish I had managed to capture more detail. Everywhere we turned there was something to marvel at, a tale to be told and a message to be absorbed.
At the most basic level, we were amazed at the energy the man had put into the project. The scale of the Museum was really quite beyond comprehension.
And it was more than just statues made from cement. Every surface was applied the same level of care and attention. Painting on the ceilings, stone decorations on the floor – you name it, it was decorated.
In fact, most of the time Tatin was building his Museum, he was also selling his paintings through his Patron in Paris, to help finance the tradesman and materials he required.
The Meditations Garden houses a few galleries displaying Robert Tatin’s paintings and some other work by him. I loved every single piece.
Talk about a labour of love. This really is a fine example of a marvellous legacy, to create wonder and inspiration for decades to come.
I only wish I’d been able to visit 35 years ago when the colours on the statues were still vibrant. And when the man himself was still there. We did pay the extra to be allowed a visit into his house – everything was exactly as it had been when he was living there. His wife moved out of the house in order to open it to the public. Tatin is buried in front of the house, where his wife will join him eventually.
And now we’re here in house swap no 3, and it seems my creative spark is growing brighter.
This is a very creative family, these people whose house we have adopted for 3 weeks. Furniture has been transformed into works of art. Original 50′s floor tiles have been embraced as original features, and spared the curse of the fitted carpet, or indeed the ubiquitous laminate flooring so common back home.
There’s art in the garden – with Gaudi-inspired mosaics lovingly created on small town house garden walls. There’s art in the bathroom, with postcards and hand-painted decorations vying for attention.
The children’s art is framed, and proudly displayed on walls throughout the house. And it doesn’t stop on the inside …
The streets of the towns are decorated beautifully. I am awash with it, and inspired by it. I see the art in nature, in the architecture, in the food – even in the countryside with it’s orderly rows of trees and surprising mailboxes peeking out from the green.
At every turn I am reminded of my rekindled desire to express myself on the physical plane – and it’s all without walking into any art gallery.
Now, if only I could drag myself away from the laptop….
Wish you were here…
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