Saturday, 27 October 2012

Artful air-vents

If somebody had told me that in a few years I'd be writing a blog post about air-vents I would have rolled my eyes and thought "who do you think I am?" Well, a few years down the line I realise that I have a whole collection of air-vent photos. Air-vents are actually quite beautiful. I've crossed roads, crouched down in gutters and climbed walls in order to add to my air-vent collection. 

So here goes, I am going to have to eat those virtual words, don my virtual tank top and put these photos together. Here are a few round ones.

I saw this very delicate one one in Arles.

And this one, in Chantilly.

Here are some rectangular ones in my local neighbourhood.

I'm guessing this is an air-vent that has been roughly filled in, I saw it when staying at friend's barn in France.

Here's the same principal of blocking up an (accidental) air-vent in a barn in Switzerland.

Here is a star.

As my collection grows I'm beginning to think other people like air-vents too!

As I finish this post I realise it has similarities to two other posts I wrote a while back. In one, 'Blanc Cassé', the colours are similar, and in the other, 'Delectable Decay', the textures are similar.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Magical Monday - Buddhism meets Catholicism in Montmartre

MM: week 11
Buddhism meets Catholicism in Montmartre

I've decided to change the rules of Magical Monday. I'm allowing myself to use Photoshop. I'm a qualified architect, but for the past 10 years I've been working mostly as a graphic designer. I figured that I could combine my passion for taking photographs with a bit of graphic fun. A little mental/design gymnastics every Monday morning to get me going. This decision was also influenced by the fact that my camera is slowly dying [insert wringing of hands and choked sobs]. It still works, but the zoom lens keeps on getting jammed, I can only take a few photos at a time and I need to wait between snaps. I am gutted. If anybody hears of any photography competitions where the prize is a camera I'd love to hear about them!

More photos from the Magical Mondays series can be found here.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Magical Monday - Batman is in the 'hood

MM: week 10
Batman is in the 'hood

Imagine my surprise when I came across this young man as I walked down rue Durantin on my way to get the papers.

Every Monday, Magical Monday, I post a photo that is hopefully puzzling, fantastical or unexpected. No Photoshop allowed!

More photos from the Magical Mondays series can be found here.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

La Cité des Fusains

The Cité des Fusains, also known as the Villa des Fusains, is one of the most exquisite hidden delights I have ever come across in Paris. This is really saying something, given how crammed full of beautiful spots Paris is! What makes it more surprising is that we are neighbours. Our house literally butts up against an artist studio in the Cité des Fusains. Unfortunately our courtyard, which I hasten to say by Parisian standards is brilliant and very spacious, does not connect with Les Fusains. Us and them.

Bound between Rue Steinlen and Rue Tourlaque in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, the Cité des Fusains is a private oasis of about 30 artists' ateliers. It is closed to the public and you need a code to get in. For a while we were lucky enough to have the code so I would pop in every now and then and take some photos. 

I've been wanting to write a post about the Cité des Fusains for some time now but have been delaying writing it as I've been trying to find more historical information about the place. It seems, however, to be so secret that even the Internet is not revealing very much information.

What I have managed to glean is that it was built in 1889, using recycled building materials previously used for the construction of pavilions in the 1989 Universal Paris Exhibition (the exhibition for which the Eiffel tower was built!). Ten years earlier apparently, the parcel of land was part of the Montmartre Cemetery, it was given over to the city but people were forbidden from digging or building foundations for ten years. A second phase of buildings was added in 1923.

The place is extraordinary with sculptures just dotted around.

I love these delicate figures.

Wall sculptures.


Here is a view from one of the neighbouring flats. And what a view! I've also read that there was a blanchisserie/laundry in the Cité des Fusains, I wonder whether those glazed lofts were formerly the laundry.

The low cost of these ateliers at the time (apparently 450 - 700 francs) attracted many (now) famous artists. The cast list of artists includes Bonnard, Derain, Collamarini, Forain, Masson, Magritte, Dali, Jean Arp et Sophie Taeuber who lived or worked there between between 1922 à 1926. The properties are now sold for a small fortune, and are gradually being bought by wealthy city types as artists can no longer afford them. 

For ten years from 1925 Max Ernst had an atelier in the Cité des Fusains and Juan Miró worked there in 1927. In 1929 Georges Joubin created a short lived "École de Montmartre", where Pascin, Maurice Asselin, Creixams, Marcel Leprin studied.

Some of the alley ways in the Cité des Fusains are named after these artists. In this photo you can just about see the blue name plate 'Rue Forain'.

The little red bit of facade you see in the corner of the photo below is our place. One day when we are rich (never) and famous (yeah right), we shall buy one of the ateliers that join our house, and knock through. We may have a long wait!

Montmartre.Secret  - Rue Tourlaque, Montmartre (in French).
Paris revolutionnaire, promenade sur la Butte Montmartre, 2ème partie (in French).
Paris revolutionnaire, Salvador Dali (in French).
Expert Paris - Cité des Fusains (in French)
Paris apart - Les FUSAINS a City of Artists in Paris in Guides, Art Books and Magazines

Monday, 8 October 2012

Magical Monday - A tightrope walking Angel

MM: week 9
A tightrope walking Angel
Seven years ago we used to live by the Bastille. It was a great place to live, close to everything you might need: cinemas, restaurants, museums and shops. We had a beautiful view over the Bassin d'Arsenal, it was lovely to be able to look at boats and water from our living room window. The only problem for me, was the traffic, giant boulevards with the continual roaring of cars, day and night. Just before we left there to move to Montmartre our daughter was 4 years old. I remember I was forever crouching down as we walked along so that I could hear what she was saying over the noise of traffic. 

Where we live now, in Montmartre, the scale of the city is much smaller, the streets are smaller, the traffic is much less heavy, cars actually stop to let you cross over zebra crossings...(occasionally)! I love it up here, I love the narrow cobbled streets curling up the hill towards the Sacré Coeur, I love the fact that the kid's friends all live less than five minutes away, I love the density which means that everything we need to live is pretty much on our doorstep.

There are a few things I miss from the Bastille though, and one of those things is the 'Angel' on top of the column in the middle of the Place de la Bastille. The 'Angel' is called the Génie de la Liberté the "Spirit of Freedom." We always called it the Angel. I loved the way that, depending on which direction you approached the Place de la Bastille, the Angel looked different: sometimes gambling across the roof tops, sometimes skipping across the tree-tops, sometimes tight rope walking across some bunting, sometimes glowing brightly in the street lights. If we'd been away, we always knew we were nearly home when we caught a glimpse of the Angel.

Here is the Angel tightrope walking along a lamppost.

And here it is gambling across the tree tops.

Every Monday, Magical Monday, I post a photo that is hopefully puzzling, fantastical or unexpected. No Photoshop allowed!

More photos from the Magical Mondays series can be found here.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

From architecture to cake

When I started gathering photos together for this blog post I thought the theme was going to be an architectural one about columns, Parisian columns. Then I got distracted, and the theme became one about perspective.

It all started a few weeks ago when I got off my bike at Place de la Madeleine and decided to take a closer look at the church. Initially it was built as a memorial to the 'Glory of the Great Army', commissioned by Napoleon in 1806. After the fall of Napoleon there was much debate about what the structure should be used as and it was only in 1848 when it was finally consecrated as a church. After locking up my bike I went into the church for the first time ever and quickly left, it is dark and gloomy and frankly felt a bit sinister.

I digress, the Madeleine church is designed in the style of ancient temple, and there are lots and lots of columns, as well as a fine visual demonstration of perspective.

My tendency to turn everything into an abstract pattern makes me take photos like this.

Rather fittingly, a few days later we were near La Bourse and walked past Rue des Colonnes.

This is a smallish road, aligned on either side with neo-greek columned arcades.

I love the creamy stone of these columns.

Here is a curved colonnade in the Parc Monceau.

Columns in the Palais Royal.

It was in the Palais Royal gardens that I became distracted and diverted my attention from columns to the perspective of long vertical forms. In this case trees.

Then gilded railings.

Curled railings, up by the Sacré Coeur.

Bollards (incidentally these bollards have been painted brown again).

Truncated columns in the Palais Royal, by night.

Finally, I became so distracted I started to see perspective in the bakery. I'll have the strawberry tart please.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Magical Monday - the Sacré Coeur hangs from a leaf

MM: week 8
The Sacré Coeur hangs from a leaf
After dropping off the kids at school today I managed to go on a walk up the hill towards the Sacré Coeur. As usual, I was not disappointed, the light was beautiful, casting long shadows, the sky was hazy. I'm so grateful to live where I do.

Every Monday, Magical Monday, I post a photo that is hopefully puzzling, fantastical or unexpected. No Photoshop allowed!

More photos from the Magical Mondays series can be found here.