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I’ve had an incredibly slothful summer; I’ve done practically no writing, practically no housework (plus ca change), very little cooking which involved going near a stove, have been very bad at blog updating though I did manage lots of reading.  On reflection it doesn’t sound a bad way to pass the time…

I also had an almost total fail on updating the blog (Flynn is doing very well by the way!) and one of things that I meant to write about and didn’t was Donz’Art but on the better late than never principal, here goes.

Our neighbouring commune is small; 150 inhabitants living mostly in a few clusters of houses strung out along a country side road but, like the mouse that roared, someone in the dollhouse-sized Mairie thinks big and has grabbed the French committment to culture with both hands.

This year Donzac staged an Arts Festival, not the usual take a room in the mairie or salle de fetes and fill it with local amateur artists jobby, oh no.  They decided on a Randonée Artistique where visitors could follow a walk punctuated by works of art through the vineyards and patrimoine of the commune and commissioned works from local professional and amateur artists.

The walk started with a cadre de vue;June 13 058aThis is Chateau de Benauges, traditional rival to Chateau du Cros which my daughter is in charge of restoring.  Benauges supported the French in the Hundred Years War, du Cros the English which no doubt explains the difference in size between the two.  Benauges is still lived in though the owners decamp to Bordeaux in the winter in search of modern amenities such as heating.

There were several other cadres de vue, framing Benauges, which isn’t actually in the commune but well worth looking at, from other positions and one delightful one of the ruins of a tall Palombiere poking out over the top of a wood.

In the nearby Lavoir (where the village washing was done) one of the professionals had created this:

June 13 049Sadly the picture doesn’t do it justice, but the combination of the place which is lovely in itself, the reflections in the water of the metal sheets and the gentle noise they made when the breeze moved them was utterly delightful.

This is part of a creation by 15 year olds from the local collége:

June 13 038and nearby a resident had created a Tree of Life

June 13 033The red and the blue symbolise the circulation of the blood.

And then down a tiny side road, which is pretty magical in itself because it goes through vineyards and woods towards a stream and stone bridge it was blow your socks off time.  First there were three simple stick men walking, then as you walked down the hill you saw a shimmer of blue amongst the trees, the colours shifting and dancing in the dappled light from the leaf canopy.  It gradually revealed itself to be this:

June 13 075aaThe Birth of a Papillon Blue, from Marie-Ange Daudé who also created the installation in the Lavoir.  It is a completely astonishing thing to come across in the woods – especially if you have no idea that there have been artists at work as happened to my husband who was just walking the dogs.  It’s made entirely from that blue twine used in the vines which is a perfect medium for this piece as the twine is very slightly shiny and becomes almost iridescent in the filtered sunlight.

June 13 082aI’ve seen this several times now and it’s never disappointing.  I’m just dumbfounded with admiration for anyone who can come to the sort of little clearing you can see all over the place round here and have the vision to create something as simple, and as stunning.

And I feel much the same for the two local artists, not professionals, who took a fallen tree a few metres down the road from le Papillon and made it into the Beast of Morillon.

June 13 088aThey even gave him a tail;June 13 096a This isn’t big budget art, the materials are simple, everyday items probably one of the reasons why nearly all these works fit so very well into their rural settings.  They’re pure enjoyment, true lifters of the spirit, absolutely not what you expect to find tucked away in remote corners of Entre deux Mers and all the better for that.

Perhaps nearly as surprising is that these works have been out in the open for over four months now, completely unguarded, and though they’ve inevitably suffered a bit of damage from the weather they haven’t been vandalised.

That really is something.