30 June 2017

Cimetière Bonnieux #3: Jean des Vallières, Vaucluse (84)


Jean des Vallières (1895–1970) wrote a great number of books, some under the pseudonyms 'Jean Ravennes' and 'Terence MacSwiney'. He came into possession of the Château de Montauban in Fontvieille in 1930 and founded, with Léo Lelée, La Société des amis des moulins d'Alphonse Daudet. After Liberation he was condemned to death in absentia by the Cour de Justice de Marseille and spent seven years in exile in Switzerland. He was acquitted in 1952.

Félix Tisserand in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Côte-d'Or (21)




The monument to Félix Tisserand, who was born in Nuits-Saint-Georges in 1845 and died in Paris in 1896 à Paris, stands opposite the Hôtel de Ville in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Tisserand became director of the observatory in Toulouse, where he published Recueil d'exercices sur le calcul infinitésimal. He is perhaps most noted for his four-volume work Traité de mécanique céleste (1889–1896), which an inscription on the monument notes is based on his explorations in Thailand (then Siam), Japan and Martinique. The monument was sculpted by Mathurin Moreau in 1899.

28 June 2017

Cimetière Bonnieux #2: Sara Alexander, Vaucluse (84)

'Sara ALEXANDER
1942–2009
Artiste au service de la paix
À toi, tout l'amour du monde
Paix, Shalom, Salam'

Sara Alexander was an Israelien singer and a writer of poetry who grew up in a kibbutz. She is seen as a kind of cultural ambassador between Israel and Palestine. She lived in France, and died in Nice.

Cimetière Bonnieux #1: Jean-Paul Clébert, Vaucluse (84)


The writer Jean-Paul Clébert (1926–2011) is perhaps best known for his book Paris Insolite (1952) about his life as a tramp in Paris. Later, however, he moved to Provence and wrote many books about the area. He died in Oppède, where he was living, and is buried in Bonnieux, where he had previously lived. My quite long review of Paris Insolite is here .

Alexandra David-Néel in Digne-les-Bains, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04)


Samten Dzong (meaning something like 'residence of reflexion') was Alexandra David Néel's name for her property in Digne, where she died, and where her secretary Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet spent the last ten years of the author's life with her, writing a book about them.

'À LA MÉMOIRE D'ALEXANDRA DAVID-NÉEL
EXPLORATRICE DU TIBET
ET DE SON FILS ADOPTIF ET FIDÈLE COMPANION DE VOYAGE
LE LAMA TIBÉTAIN YONGDEN
TOUS DEUX DÉCÉDÉS ICI ET DONATEURS DE CETTE RÉSIDENCE'

'MAISONS DES ILLUSTRES
ALEXANDRA
DAVID-NÉEL
1868–1969
TIBÉTOLOGUE
A VÉCU UNE TRENTAINE
D'ANNÉES DANS CETTE MAISON
AVEC SON FILS ADOPTIF
LE LAMA YONGDEN'

Alexandra David-Néel was of French and Belgian nationality, born of a French anarchist father and a Belgian Catholic mother. She too was an anarchist, an opera singer in her youth, a noted Tibetologist (being the first European to penetrate the forbidden city Llasa (disguised as a beggar), an explorer, a feminist, a writer, and a Buddhist. Aphur Yongden, who was a lama, was her adopted son who died in 1955: as David-Néel bought the house in 1928 and they both spent about seven years in China in the 1930s, the suggestion above that Yongden spent about thirty years here is obviously wrong: about twenty, yes.

A building close to the house contains nothing original to the period of Alexandra David-Néel's travels, but reconstructions of things around her life, and of Tibetan life. Above is a reconstruction of the kind of tent she camped in on her travels.

The decorative Tchonga-Tchöpas (lit. 'new moon offerings') are made with the female yak's butter. These offerings are made at the beginning of the Tibetan new year, with the new moon in February. For conservation, the models here are made with vegetable margarine and paraffin, and the colouring is with oil paint.

Included in the representation is Alexander David-Néel.

And 'La Tortue', or turtle, Peyronnet's nickname after finding a ball of material on the stairs!

A representation of Tcham dancers, dating back to the eighteenth century.

The mandala (or circle) is used as a basis of transmission to higher levels of Tibetan Buddhism. It represents a pathway to the ultimate awakening. When the master of meditation has passed on this knowledge, the useless base (of sand) is destroyed either by water or wind.

'A vrai dire, j'ai le "mal du pays" pour un pays qui n'est pas le mien. Les steppes, les solitudes, les neiges éternelles et le grand ciel clair de “là haut[”] me hantent !... Pays qui semble appartenir à un autre monde, pays de titans ou de Dieux. Je reste ensorcelée'

My translation: 'To be honest, I'm homesick for a country that isn't my own. The Steppes, the periods of solitude, the neverending snows and the huge clear sky from "up above" haunt me! A country that appears to be another world, a land of Titans or of Gods. I remain bewitched.

Alexandra David-Neel' [sic]

Aphur Yongden.

Alexandra David-Néel dressed as a beggar.

27 June 2017

The Outsider Art of Léopold Truc, Cabrières d'Avignon, Vaucluse (34)

Léopold Truc is something of a mystery. He is said to have been an agriculturalist born in Cabrières d'Avignon in 1912, although the date of his death is uncertain. It's also uncertain if this (very difficult to find) place is still visitable, as the bureau de tourisme was closed on our visit. Internet posts give conflicting accounts of its (non-)visitability, although it is clear that some people have (illegally) invited themselves onto the land to take photos. Clearly there is much more to be seen here than from an outside view, although I only took my photos from the gravel path outside. Léopold Truc called his creation 'Paradis', although the first letter is almost non-existent. Facteur Cheval's Palais Idéal this certainly isn't, but it's fascinating all the same:





















My other Outsider Art (or related) posts:
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Le Musée Extraordinaire de Georges Mazoyer, Ansouis
Le Facteur Cheval's Palais Idéal, Hauterives
The Art of Theodore Major
Kevin Duffy, Ashton-in-Makerfield

26 June 2017

The 'Song' of the Cicadas in Provence

It's possible to drive for hundreds of miles in Provence, all the time hearing the 'song' of the cicadas, insects which make a loud sound produced from their tymbals, or abdominal membranes. It's very difficult to describe the sound, although I'd call it a mixture between a bird song and a kind of gentle metallic sawing noise. But 'noise' is a bad expression for a sound that lulls, soothes, calms, delights, and we're really gonna miss this when we leave Provence in a few days' time. Above is a cicada I noticed which has 'hatched' from its shell and finally made it overground. Cicadas, by the way, are completely harmless and really nice to know, although you usually only hear them rather than see them.

The skin, or nymph shell, of the same cicada in its original position, clinging to the bark.

25 June 2017

Marius Comba in Mouriès, Bouches-du-Rhône (13)



Marius Comba is a famous name in the Mouriès area of Bouches-du-Rhône not only for his interest in drum-playing, but also for olive farming, for the quality of his olive oil. His home, La Risoulète, means Paradise. The sculpture here depicts his with his black laborador Tango.

Jean Boyer in Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône (13)

'Jean BOYER
Conservateur en Chef du patrimone,
historien d'Aix-en-Provence,
Maître d'œuvre du Félibrige, 1914–2004'

Among Jean Boyer's publications are L'Architecture religieuse de l'époque classique à Aix-en-Provence (1972) and Architecture et urbanisme à Aix-en-Provence aux XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles du cours à carrosses au cours Mirabeau (2004).

24 June 2017

Peiresc in Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône (13)



Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, commonly simply known as Peiresc as on this monument by the cathedral in Aix-en-Provence, was born in Belgentier in the adjoining département of Var (83), and died in Aix. He was a polymath, most noted as a scientist, a writer, astronomer and collector of art. He drew the first map of the moon based on telescopic observations.