Posted on 1 Comment

A 3rd French Letter

 Fula Paxinos, our intrepid traveller and writer (as well as great artist) kept us entertained a few months back with her exploits in Paris.   Due to some computer glitch, the letters stopped after 2, but luckily she has decided to keep us ‘in the loop’ – here is the 3rd French Letter.
2 Months and a lot of  aggravation later, yet another French letter.

But first—I must clear up a few misconceptions in letter 2  Firstly the ‘their’s’ should have been ‘there’ Blame the damned foreign computers.  Secondly I wrote ‘just about everyone speaks French, a leetle’. Not everyone understood that I meant that most of the residents in the international cite can speak une peau francaise and many Parisians can speak  ‘a leetle English’  (Happy Linda?)

Location, location, location!    The long blue roof in the centre foreground, facing the river Seine, between Pont Marie and Pont Louis Philipe, is the main building of the Cité.  My studio was on the 1st floor facing the river Seine.  Not shabby, hey?  Top centre is Notre Dame Cathedral.  

“The Cité Internationale des Arts is intended to provide short or long stays (2 months to 1 year) for professional artists who want to develop an artistic work in France.The Cité Internationale des Arts is a foundation directed to the public benefit since 1957. The Cité Internationale des Arts is intended to Provide short or long stays (2 months to 1 year) for professional artists who want to Develop an artistic work in France. The Cité Internationale des Arts is a foundation directed to benefit the public since 1957.

It is related to a vast network of partners and associates. It is related to a vast network of partners and associates. Its founders include a large number of States, schools, institutes, universities and ministries from close to 50 countries all across the world. Its founders include a large number of States, schools, institutes, universities and ministries from close to 50 countries all across the world. Three of its historic founders and key partners are the City of Paris, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Three of its historic founders and key partners are the City of Paris, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The facilities of the Cité are divided between two locations in Paris : The facilities of the City are divided between two locations in Paris:

– The site located at 18 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville includes 270 individual workshops in the heart of the Marais district, a dynamic quarter swarming with art galleries and a favourite destination for Parisians. – The site located at 18 rue de l’Hotel de Ville includes 270 individual workshops in the heart of the Marais district, a dynamic quarter swarming with art galleries and a favorite destination for Parisians.

– The site located at 24 rue Norvins is composed of several buildings in a large garden in Montmartre and has 30 individual workshops. – The site located at 24 rue Norvins is composed of several buildings in a large garden in Montmartre and has 30 individual workshops. Montmartre was for many years a focal point for artists over the world. Montmartre was for many years a focal point for artists the world over. “

Life in the Cité des Internationale des Arts.

 The residents come from all over the planet and express their talents in a great variety of disciplines. Many musicians, who seem to stay here the longest, as long as 2 years; conductors, composers, visual artists, photographers, video installation artists, sculptors, writers, art historians, singers and songwriters, some husbands/wives/babies/lovers and some here just for  inspiration.

Apart from the concerts in the auditorium, the visual artists can host an ‘Open Studio’ when they have produced some work to show.  They put invitations in all the residents’ pigeon holes, put a poster on the notice board stating their Studio no. date and time, buy some snacks and wine, and welcome all comers.  An excellent way to meet people and to see what they do- some fantastic art, some not.

A young Japanese artist Katsutoshi Yuasa produced woodcuts and prints 1.5 m’s wide x 1m at his Open Studio.  Unbelievably intricate and beautiful weeping willows and water scenes.  One of the guests muttered to me that Katsutoshi had copied Monet’s Japanese bridge.  Ja well nou fine!

A Canadian/Australian woman was tracing ancestors through DNA. and wanted all the visitors to her Open studio to fill in details on a hand drawn map of the world  where their families originated.  Despite a very long, intense explanation, I still could not understand the connection with the paper mache stuff that was part of her exhibition.
Maybe the high octane drinks her husband was dispensing had something to do with it. C’est possible  

A tiny doll-like Chinese artist showed a very poignant video installation about the earthquake in Sichuan Province. At the end of her six month stay her huge blonde Norwegian husband came to spend a few days with her  and take her back home to Norway.

My charming young Moroccan neighbour, Rahimah had a jolly Open Studio and showed large paintings of black daisies and brown tulips painted with a  4” brush.  She then went back to Tangier for a few days to visit her cat and her parents.   When she came back she showed me a picture of her hamster which she sadly announced was morte.  I made appropriate sympathetic gestures. When she showed me a picture of her cat,  she tickled the picture and made squeaky baby noises at it.  Great!  She was crazy! She was one of us!   Rahimah couldn’t speak a word of English  so I racked my brains and asked her “avez vous voir le magazin pour achete les animaux petit?”

I hoped I’d asked her if she had seen the pet shops, she understood, shook her head and smiled so I took her to the row of pet and garden shops further along the Seine.  Needless to say she was enchanted and gurgled and cooed and made squeaky noises at all the adorable baby animals.  Puppies- +-3000 Euros! (R36,000!!!!)  and kittens  +-1800 euros! (R21,600!!!!)  I  had to drag her out of there, fortunately sans any petit animaux!.

5 Artists from bits of the former Yugoslavia got together and had an Open Studio exhibition called L’Art Nous Unis  (Art unites us)  Some beautiful and eclectic and also some very weird things like bits of dismembered dolls nailed to the wall.   We became good friends and went out together.  Most of them were leaving at the end of Oct. and I gave them a little farewell party in my studio.  The common language was English,  but not too much of it.

My friends, their nationalities  and the languages they spoke  were:-

Metka – Female – Slovenian – plus  Italian, Serbian, Croat,  English

Sasa – Male – Montenegran – plus   English, Serbian, Italian, un peau francais

Mirsad – Male –       “             plus   English Serbian, Italian, Greek
 Mirca – Female – Czechoslovakian – plus English,Serbian, German, Russian, Polish 
Joe –  Male – American – plus French, German 
Ahmad – Male – Palestinian – plus Arabic

Moi   –  Female – S African – plus Afrikaans, Greek, a leetle Turkish, un peau francais

Vedrana was pregnant, did not feel well so left earlier and returned to Serbia with her husband.
(I had to add in the Turkish bit so as not to appear dof in front of all those multilingual people!)
Shortly after I arrived in Paris, my school-friend Joan and another friend came over on the Eurostar from London to spend the day with me.  It was great having their company and site-seeing together.  But when they left I felt lonelier than ever.  I’m so glad that I hung in there and had the opportunity and the privilege to get to know such talented artists from such diverse countries and cultures; to listen to their stories and hear about their lives.

Next episode-  Mindblowing Paris
Amiètes

Fula

Posted on Leave a comment

Another French Letter from Fula

DIV {
MARGIN: 0px
}

The weather is getting colder by the minute.  But the sun shines and not much rain.  I love the winter fashions here, anything goes, colours, styles, black tights worn with short skirts or short shorts.  I brought the black tights, pity I forgot the shorts.  Eish!
I discovered BHV, a massive dept. store with the most incredible art dept.  Forget Pearl paint in China Town New York .  I went to the basement to buy batteries,  the biggest hardware and tool dept I have ever seen  an amazing selection of tools for any and everything.  Batteries , dozens of them, all shapes and sizes and long queues of shoppers at every pay point.  On Sat a.m  I was walking to the Pompidou Centre and passed a morning market on a square next to one of the many ornate buildings in the area.  There were rose petals all over the ground, the name of the building had  Mairie in it,  a group of smartly dressed people were standing around, some with boutonierres.  It didn’t take me long to figure out there must be a wedding happening.  BUT could not spot the bride.  Then a group gathered on the steps for a picture, 3 nice looking young men and a large elderly woman.  Then the 2 guys in the middle had a big smooch.  Quel surprise, legal in Catholic France? 
On my way again I passed the BHV pet supplies store.  What a treat pour moi.  Lots of dogs with their owners.  Sweet playful puppies getting their leashes tangled up,  older dogs looking bored especially one which was being fitted by his very serious owner for a raincoat.  And another fluffy dog whose owner and an exasperated assistant were trying out gprgepud harnesses that would not tangle his hair.  I could just imagine Sparky in that situation, giving me his sidesways dirty look, grumbling and growling.  The racks of clothes were seriously high fashion, couturier quality  _ embroidered, zipped, jewelled, in an amazing variety of fabrics, even camouflage prints,  (No Angie, I will not buy one for u know who!)  in all shapes and styles, even jackets with hoods bordered with fur! nogal!  The variety of toys and accoutrements was just as amazing.  
On my way back from the Pompidou, I went into one of the many huge  churches.  Just in time to hear the wonderful choir, sounding like angels,  so I sat and listened.   I sat near the middle and 2 girls aged about 10ish came in, and sat on the edge of a platform right in front of me.  They quickly whipped out 2 packs of cards and with a dexterity gained from long practice, shuffled, dealt and started their game.  They saw me watching them, smiled, and I smiled back, they were very cute.  !   Mon Dieu!  In a church, during a service!  I felt that I should move away in case a lightning bolt struck them!.
Paris is sure full of surprises.  Just about everyone speaks French, a leetle, and is quite friendly except for the men who work in reception at the Cite, the miserable sods.  I am managing to communicate. With lots of si’l vous plaits and mercies and smiley, smiley and occasional flash backs to what I learned at the Alliance Francaise, (Vocabulary 5 out of 10, grammar 0)  Hopefully I will improve.
A bientot
Fula

Posted on 2 Comments

From Fula in Paris …

Fula Paxinos, one of our members and a Past President of the Society, is currently on sabbatical in Paris!  Enjoy her letter – there are others coming south from la belle France.

Dear Family and friends

So here I am on my much anticipated visit to Paris.  The flight was loooong and cramped but it was great spending time with my friend schoolfriend Joan at Heathrow.  When I went through security to board my flight for Paris, the security bells rang merrily.  The officer ran the paddle up and down my bod several times and then patted me from top to bottom and sideways.  Not satisfied, and despite me telling her that I have a new hip, she repeated the whole procedure with the paddles and then another massage, never mind patting me.  Not unpleasant, but I wonder what she does at her night job.  Then the security guy unpacked and searched my on-board luggage, quel embarrasment, and confiscated my little bortle of wine- the bliksem. 
Eventually Paris at last.
My studio is large and light and has an alcove for my bed and a minute kitchen and a bathroom and storeroom.   BUT,  no computer, no T.V. no sewing machine, no telephone, no fax machine, NO SPARKY   NO FRIENDS.  What was I thinking?  2 months!!!!!! 
Anyway,  on my first night  there was a concert in the theatre in the building.  The pianist was excelltent but the singer not.
The Cite has a theatre complete with stage in which the music residents can perform.
First day- The other South African (who speaks perfect French) and I braved the Metro,  my training in the subways of NY will come in handy.  The stations are big and airy, white tiled and decorated with posters,  display cases with replicas of museum pieces at Louvre Station, very surprising.  Especially the bigger stations which are like huge rabbit warrens, how on earth did they engineer such a system?  Chatelet is a large junction, never mind buskers, their was a 12 piece orchestra playing underground.  My destination was Cligniancourt,, a massive flea market which also featured beautiful antiques, art and the biggest and most specialized, antique and modern, haberdashery store I have ever seen.  No, I did not even buy a single button.  Hows that for self control?
Sat. night- Paris celebtated “Blanche Nuite” –  Sound and Light installations at many locations all over Paris.  I walked (a 10 minute walk) across the bridge to Notre Dame Cathedral to see the installation there.  Large groups of glowing crystals in each of the side chapels in the cathedral.  Stunning and quite unusual and so modern in such a splendid Gothic Church.  
One of the bridges to the island also had an installation of large square transparent boxes piled on top of each other changing colour and Tv screens screening strange light patterns to even stranger music.  And there was a full moon!
First Sunday of the month is free at the Louvre so I and every other tourist were there.Vast halls jam packed with paintings, and people. I had to hand my camera to a youngster who must have been at least 6’6″ tall to take a picture of the Mona Lisa for me.  Many of the paintings were massive-  imagine a room full of 40 foot paintings.  (my feet- size 5, do the maths. No I did not have my tape measure with me) Although I marvelled at the talent of the artists I have to say that I eventually couldn’t look at any more crucifictions, dying grey men, anguished women and  battle scenes.  It will take at least a week to see everything at the Louvre.
Had to get my hands on a computer but Mon Dieu!  the computer at the Cite does not have a qwerty kepboard. C’est impossible!
Alice, the 3rd S.A. artist has her grandson with her and he let me use his laptop. 
Next episode soon.
Lots of love
Fula