France 2018 – to the Auvergne (made it!!) – days 10 & 11

19th September (Day 10)
Aubusson & Tolkien

10 days in and we have finally made it to the Auvergne! We are stopping at Camping La Perle about 12km from Aubusson – the most prominent tapestry and weaving centre of Europe, in fact a UNESCO site.
After a morning walk we drove into Aubusson ready for a 2hr lunch at Les Maison du Pont followed by a walk around the 2 main museums of tapestry. One houses some contemporary tapestries in 6 rooms of a very old house which is the Office du Tourisme – the contrast between an old building and more modern tapestries was fascinating. It was here we found out that the artist who creates what is called a ‘cartoon’ for the weaver to follow and in traditional Aubusson style is done in reverse.

The Tapestry Museum in Aubusson – the amount of colours being employed is amazing

Inbetween the two tapestry museum visits we came across a tiny studio with the artist producing some very different pieces of work. They reminded me of the Cirque du Soleil and on discussing this with the artist (in my best french of course) he enlightened me and told me they wee after the style of Cirque de la Luna (is there such a troupe? – I’ll have to google it!).

Strangely different sculptures to be found in a little studio – Aubusson

The sculptor at work

The second venue was the Cité Internationale de la Tapissaire. It can take anything up to a month for 1 sq metre of tapestry to be completed – when you see the size of some of the works one wonders how they keep motivated. I guess it’s like a painting, you slowly see it develop. We learnt such a lot in such a short space of time I could not do justice to it here. My suggestion would be to get online and have a look. One of the most amazing projects the venue is tackling is turning a series of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original illustrations into tapestries. Since negotiations with the Tolkien estate started in 2013 they have chosen 14 illustrations and have manged to complete the first in April this year after starting it last November. The technique harks back to the 16th & 17th Centuries when tapestries were used to tell a story – also they are utilising the colour styles of those centuries (5 only in a group of greens or blues or reds, etc) which leads to a more co-ordinated pallet.

The first finished Tolkein tapestry along with studies for the next

The ‘cartoon’ as it is called along with colour swatches to be used by the tapestry experts.

Absolutely fascinating and absorbing, so much so we said we would return for the final tapestry being completed in 2021! A very uplifting and energising day which has given both Janette and I food for thought regarding inspiration for future artistic projects when we finally cut the bonds of work.

20th September (Day 11)
Hoping for more of the same

Having rested Hilma for a couple of days we are off again on another search for a France passion site. We have our eyes on a bio-culture farm.
Before that though we want to look at a small Benedictine Abbey in Moutier d’Ahun. What a pretty village, plenty of money here we guessed. A river running through it, an old Roman bridge, the abbey with it’s beautiful wooden carvings, a restaurant – whats not to like? Unfortunately this late in the French holiday season the abbey was closed so we had a little wander through the village and learnt all about the old mill and oil press.
We head for our overnight stop and arrive in the afternoon only to find piles of soil, a straw shed, some old tarpaulins and a large wooden hut, also a route barré chain across the drive – no thanks. So off we go again on another Plan B- this time aiming for a vineyard producing Vins de Tourraine. Upon arrival we were greeted by Sophie who was also busy trying to organise a coach tour so got her Mother-in-Law to show us to our designated parking spot overlooking the vineyards of Francois Jourdain. Fascinated, we watched the grape harvesting machine work late into the evening (only to be woken by it again at 6:00am – ahh the romantic life of a motorhomer. Settling down for the night I was perturbed by the lack of power in the water taps – I couldn’t figure it out, the battery voltage was high enough, we had enough water – oh well, will have to sleep on it.