I don’t usually feel the cold but yesterday we were chilled to the bone. I think the raw weather put a lot of people off visiting ‘Les Oiseaux Rares’ this weekend, or at least they moved smartly between venues and didn’t linger. ‘Les Oiseaux Rares’ are a group of 25 artists in Cormatin who collectively open their workshops and studios the last weekend in November. You follow the bird footprints chalked on the pavements to go from one venue to another. They use the Mairie, tourist office and church in addition to their workshops. Each door is decorated with a wooden bird which is supposed to be a caricature of the artist within.
The bird at the entrance to the church…
wherein was the artist Patrick Balleriaud with his latest paintings
You can buy a bowl produced by one of the potters and at every exhibition try the homemade soup on offer. Perhaps we arrived too early for that but at the workshop of Pascale Ponsard we enjoyed some mulled orange which fortified us for our return through Cormatin.
The bowls, but where was the soup? Pascale Ponsard’s silk scarves piled on the bench behind
Returning to the church we admired the work of Patrick’s partner, Silvyanne, who runs workshops making things out of what you and I would call rubbish. Her work always reminds me of the Art Brut of Johé Gormand of Cortambert (famous after her death in 1963).
There are special day or weekend art courses available at the studios of Patrick Ballérinaud for visitors and locals alike. See www.studioballeriaud.fr. We had a lovely day last year learning how to sketch and watercolour landscapes. His portaits are excellent; we have the last priest of Cormatin in the hall at La Maison du Curé. At the moment Patrick is sketching portraits of the grandchildren. You just need to send an email with a photo. Great for Christmas presents.
We are constantly amazed how much artistic talent there is in this area. Today Cormatin was just one big art gallery. 28 exhibitors were showing their pottery and paintings, jewellery and fabric designs. Many opened their workshops and others borrowed old barns, the tourist office and the teashop. Even the church was used to display works of art, and several times during the afternoon an actor put on a show there.
Patrick Ballérinaud with his illustrations and portraits
Our artist friends Patrick and Silvyanne were in the teashop (the warmest place in Cormatin this afternoon). You will remember that Patrick drew the portrait of the last priest of Cormatin which hangs in the hall at La Maison du Curé? He is offering short art courses to visitors on demand, for any length of time and on any theme. See www.studioballerinaud.fr.
Silvyanne with her sculptures in wire
We left Patrick and Silvyanne to go to the Rêvothèque on the Place de l’Eglise. Five years ago a journalist, Christian Hanser from Germany, had the idea of travelling around Europe in a wooden shepherd’s hut. Wherever he stopped he would invite the locals in to relax and be sociable. On reaching Cormatin Christian fell in love with the area (as do we all) and he bought an old barn previously used for storage by the baker next door. He soon transformed the barn into a little dwelling. We were surprised when hammocks and swing chairs began to appear outside with the invitation for everyone to put their busy lives on hold and sit and dream for a while.
Christian Hanser and his Rêv’othèque
Inside we found the house was full of comfy chairs and cushions. Christian says that spending time dreaming and just being companionable is certified 100% non-productive but useful for society. www.revotheque.fr
Upstairs we watched a video of the early lives of the Cormatin artists and their path through life. We learned that our neighbour Patrick Vernay at the Atelier de Galadrielle (www.atelierdegaladrielle.fr) has always been passionate about gardening and appreciated why flower designs are incorporated into his fine silverwork.
Our neighbours the jewellers, Patrick & Martine Vernay (photo Oiseaux Rares)
Les Oiseaux Rares are exhibiting again tomorrow. Do go and have a look. Get to talk with the talented group of artists in our midst. And there are lots of beautiful things to chose as Christmas presents.