If you’ve come to this blog through a link on my web site: www.annisikarts.com you’ll know that I’m selling a series of limited edition fine art digital prints on silk entitled Pagoda at the economical price of £50 each (plus p&p) and that 10% of the sale of each print will be donated to International Animal Rescue through my page on the charity site Just Giving. I’ve kicked off my fund-raising campaign with a donation of a fiver. (You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is)!
The pagoda (pavillon chinois) is situated in the northern French town of L’Isle-Adam, which is some 20 miles or so from the centre of Paris, in the Val d’Oise department of the Ile de France. I’ve taken many a walk in the in the town’s forest and my travel/history book of the same title was inspired by this fabulous forest.
From 1687 and stretching across four generations, the Bergerets, a family of Receivers General of Finances to the king, was the most important landowner in L’Isle-Adam, after the princes of Conti (a cadet (younger) branch of the royal Bourbon family). The Bergerets remained owners of the forest and domain of L’Isle-Adam right up until the French Revolution. And we can hazard a guess as to what happened at that point to the Bergerets!
The last of the Bergeret line, Pierre-Jacques Bergeret, bought on the 1st of March 1778, from his cousin Alexandre-Pierre-Nicolas de Cassan, the domain, within the town of L’Isle-Adam, of Châteaupré. Pierre-Jacques had in the course of his travels in Italy in 1773-74, discovered the country’s anglo-chinese gardens and, inspired, set about transforming Châteaupré into such a garden.
It was between 1780-90 that the pagoda – which served no purpose other than as a folly – was constructed in the park of his chateau, the Chateau de Cassan, L’isle-Adam. It is said to have been designed by the French painter Fragonard (1732-1806) who had accompanied Pierre-Jacques into Italy.
It is built on an octagonal plan and its double, pagoda-style roof is supported by eight wooden pillars. It stands within a man-made lake, the largest mass of which is behind the building. Water arrives at the front, where it becomes a small pond, via the mouths of two bronze lions mounted on a wall and into which flint and semi-precious stones have been embedded.
The structure eventually fell into ruin and has been restored twice, once in 1975 and again in 2008, the latter under the direction of Pierre Andre Lablaude, Chief Architect of France’s historic monuments.
It was the pond which inspired me, rather than the gaudy pagoda. It was a blustery day in autumn when I visited. The pond is overhung by large trees and the wind animated the reflections of the trees in the water, turning it into an ever-changing slideshow of images. I brought back a cameraful of pictures and their largely black and white qualities, their environment, reminded me of the tradition of Chinese landscape art, of the ‘zen’ economy of haiku poetry.
The artworks in the video above are what came out of my inspiration.
This is a mixed media work I made some years ago. It’s a collage/fusion of a photo of a tree, a monoprint and a frottage. The inspiration and subject matter was the largely-agricultural setting of my home at that time – an old farmhouse in a small village not far from the medieval town of Chartres, France. I was always puzzled about my urge to include the cross within a circle in this work. Despite reflection and research, there was no good reason for it to be included.
Coincidence? Or can the ghostly nature of the motif in the print be read as an overlaying of the future onto the present?
The the symbol of a cross within a circle has many interpretations, too many to mention. One meaning that made me smile was the significance of a cross inside a circle in hobo code, which apparently means: “Okay here – good chance of food or a handout”. Hobos would mark with coal or chalk on a tree or other conspicuous surface, the sort of welcome and aid his fellow hobos might find in the place. I smiled because there was little chance of such a sign appearing in the village in which I lived! But that’s another story.
If you fancy one or more of my silk prints, get in touch by the email address on www.annisikarts.com They are small – only the size of a large postcard – (and therefore inobtrusive) and will come with a matt surround and in a cellophane pack (ideal as a ready-wrapped present).
If you like the fabulous music by Rob Stevens that accompanies the slideshow, you can purchase just the track or the entire album as an MP3 download on Amazon and iTunes.