Thursday, 27 September 2007
A starry, starry night.
There’s something about the light in the South of France which intrigues me. Things which look dull and ordinary back in the UK take on a different character, brighter and more alive. A view through an open gateway suddenly reminds you of a famous picture – you may not be sure which one, but you know you’ve seen it before somewhere. The sight of the waiter bringing lunch, weaving through crowded tables, tray held high, makes you do a double take and wonder why this scene feels so familiar. A badly maintained front door, instead of looking scruffy and in need of attention, suddenly makes you want to paint it. And I don’t mean with two coats of Dulux, either. Everywhere you look, something is begging to be immortalized on canvas, and it's very likely that someone already has.
So although we’re not very au fait (get that, I can speak French now) with art history, I suppose the phrase “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like” could apply to husband and me. We both enjoy a bit of culture so along with the other essential holiday activities of relaxing, swimming, reading, eating and drinking we usually like to visit the odd art gallery or two, visit a historically significant site or just tour the area, sometimes stopping where the fancy takes us rather than making a proper plan. There's something wonderful about being able to call in at Renoir's house (he wasn't in, by the way), visit a world class modern art foundation or look out to sea from the same studio window that Picasso gazed through, all within a few minutes' drive, and still be back to catch the last of the afternoon sun by the pool.
So, after a tense start to the holiday (see previous post) I began to relax deeply, and was surprised to find myself awake at 3 a.m. one night, restless and fretful. Too much coffee after dinner, with a killer Cointreau on the rocks, was no doubt the problem. I lay in bed for a while, trying to get back to sleep, thinking about all the things we'd seen that day, mulling it all over. But it was no good, now I was wide awake with no sign of sleep coming my way. Getting out of a strange bed in an unfamiliar room in the dark, I tentatively felt my way to the bathroom to get a glass of water and, feeling a bit too hot, carefully opened the shutters to let in a bit of air. And what a surprise I got. Framed by the tiny bathroom window was the most wonderful night sky I have ever seen, the stars twinkling like a handful of blazing diamonds scattered over a cloak of inky blue velvet. I stood for a very long time just gazing upwards, totally in awe, thinking of one of my all-time favourite paintings by Van Gogh. It was absolutely stunning.
Like I say, everywhere you look, there's a masterpiece waiting to be painted.
I filled my glass and raised it to drink.
Here's to you Vincent.
Posted by Swearing Mother at 22:33