A room with a view, quite

French Connections

Australian Print Workshop
Paris study tour
May – June 2018

French Connections, part 2

French Connections, part 1
French Connections, part 3
French Connections, part 4
French Connections, part 5
French Connections, part 6
French Connections, part 7

(Post) French Connections, part 1
(Post) French Connections, part 2
(Post) French Connections, part 3
(Post) French Connections, part 4

21st May:
Before Tintoretto, that “little dryer”, our eyes returned to the dogs who reminded us of Lottie (La mort d’Adonis), and of muscles like mice beneath the skin with tendons for tails, as per the word’s origin (‘muscle’ comes from the Latin for ‘little mouse’). We noted ghost birds in lakes, and allowed tiny details to be coloured by overheard conversations in hushed tones and foreign tongue in the Musée du Luxembourg. In a knot of tourists, collectively shushed by beauty’s minders, we marvelled at the stained glass of the 13th century Sainte-Chapelle. Cobalt makes the blue, copper, the red and green, manganese, purple, and antimony, yellow, together with light and awe. Day three, in part, and sated.

* * *

Soft. Powdery. Awed. Tiny before brilliance. With Voltaire in the crypt below my feet and in my ear, “the more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing”. In the Panthéon, retaining the warmth of the day on my skin, before history. (Merci for the recommendation, Des. X)

* * *

To close the windows and draw the curtains upon such a bedroom window view seems unlikely. Rather, we leave them open, allowing the view to pour into the room. We have moved from our temporary nest in rue de Chabrol (remembered in the mind at the time of booking as the ‘shambling opera’ (Hotel Chabrol Opera)) to begin our part of Australian Print Workshop’s French Connections project. Like the no guard approach, we are ready to draw in the opportunity.


22nd May:
Before Saint Jérôme en méditation, a cleaner draws large sweeping strokes across the floor with his soft broom, performing his own kind of meditation. Watching his movements in accord with the broom’s glide, his actions enhances my own reading of the surrounding works. Waiting before Sainte Madeleine, a cleaner sits, a spray bottle of polish and cloth in hand. The Musée du Louvre just before it closes is a beautiful theatre of shift change harmony as I imagine the paintings prepare for their repose, having spent the day restoring faith in the role of art.

* * *

Heighten the colour of the first emotion, Bonnard, and paint from a memory of a woman and her dog as they passed by you as you sat on a bench in the Jardin du Luxembourg eating an unsatisfying ice-cream (for there exists such a thing). Nature, painted after a walk. Nature, after a day or more has passed. Recollections like leaves falling in new sequences.

* * *

Miss Honeychurch likes her room with a view. (Responding to RMIT art student emails from someplace like no other. I shall need to be prised from this bedroom overlooking the Musée des arts et métiers. Prised, yes, prised.)


23rd May:
Behind the curve of a polar bear’s back, I spy a case of mallards in wait. Beneath the table, a golden monkey sports the exclamation of treasure found, and around the corner, a unicorn is caught in a downpour of spirits. On the chair, a curl of a fox, and over there, a leopard pas de deux. Before leaving the Musée de la Chase et de la Nature, the friendly security guard alerts us to something we might have missed near to the Salon des Chiens. Crouching low and lower still, there she is, Fifi la petite souris to bid us adieu.

* * *

Feverish like a hare in a trap, from the curious and stifling ‘umwelt’ expansion of the Musée de la Chasse et de la nature, let us rewind to earlier today, to Musée National Picasso, with a little bird by Giacometti and Guernica strokes.


Image credit: The view, one fine spring evening (and on Google street view, 251 Rue Saint-Martin, Paris, Île-de-France, of the Saint-Martin-des-Champs Priory, Musée des arts et métiers)