Friday, 13 July 2012

.....being constrained

Travelling through the lovely little Town of Jouhet in the Poitou-Charente region in France on our way to the abbey of St-Savin a little C12-14th eglise (Notre Dame) was indicated so we pulled in and investigated.

Gartempe in Jouhet

It may have originally been a Late Romanesque church but it had been much altered and didn’t hold any obvious interest except for the mirthful corbels on either side of the pillars on the approach near to the altar.

I couldn’t derive a meaning at all (indicating how far I’ve lapsed) and it wasn’t until the image was part of a work in the Ballarat International Photo-biennale that some-one opined “…Holy Communion…stick your tongue out!”
That may not be wholly accurate but it seems a good fit.  It was perhaps an instructional sculpture.
Mrs Wombat who had been out looking around the town came in and said that just across the road there was a C15th Chapel of St. Catherine with frescos and that the key was down at the shop.

Chapel, St. Catherine.  Jouet

 Key duly obtained we let ourselves in to this delightful 9x4 (?) metre space.

Chapel Interior, Jouhet
Christ Pantocrator, heavily re-worked and with a avuncular but worried visage surrounded by his Archangels and Seraphim, presiding over the rising dead; to his right an Eagle ?, (St.John) who has been beheaded by a renovation. On the window frames, four female saints in C14th dress.
On the floor the last resting place of “M. Jerome Victor Auboutet 
Chevalier de St.Louis…. Mort 1852 de 84 ans.”

On the ceilings

Genesis: Adam and Eve, Tree of Knowledge, Expulsion of the Serpent by The Eagle  and Lion (John and Mark)?
Below a morality play: a’la Traini’s  “Triumph of Death” in Pisa, of C15th courtiers hunting and hawking whilst seeing the crucified Christ and subsequent death and resurrection and opposite….

…. the resurrection, the weighing of souls and redemption and below a nativity scene, again in C14th dress.
Upper visual lessons could well be much earlier than lower panels as iconography is different and the story elements simpler.
Interesting too, that the “Lessons” unfold on both sides from the entrance toward the altar.

Returning the key to “the shop”, discover it is a Bar, Restaurant, Tabac; and as it’s luch-time, stay.
Warm Chicken and Ham Salad, Terrine, Chicken / Mushrooms, Potato Gratin, Cheese, Marshmallow and Kiwi Fruit dessert, ½ bottle vin blanc and minus E46.10  2 1/2 hours later we walk out, well satisfied.
The Wombats’ can recommend “Le Val de Gartempe”, 8 rue de la Gartempe. 86500 Jouhet.

Le Val de Gartempe

St. Savin started as a monastery under Charlemagne around the year 800 and its present highly decorated, solid Romanesque form developed from 1010.

St. Savin

The walls and ceilings of the porch have scenes from the Apocalypse:

The lady and the Dragon

The Plague of Locusts

St. Savin, Ceiling
The deft sinuous calligraphy of the C11th artists (monks ?) who painted here over 17 metres up is reminiscent of  illuminated manuscript work and the bible story runs chronologically from Genesis to the Exodus as you perambulate down one aisle then around over to the other side in order to “read” the whole book.
Meant primarily for the monks and brothers of the monastery they were a means of inculcating a consistent understanding of catholic dogma and belief.
Prosper Merimee began a rescue and restoration of St.Savin in the 1840’s and in places you appreciate the difference between the robustness of the original work

and the "politeness" of the restored or re-made….

…which made me think more of the whimsical paintings of the French, Melbourne artist, Mirka Mora, than as “beasties” who might want to rip your soul out.

It was a beautiful place but I did wonder about the inculcation of fear to maintain control…. to “toe the party line” and to be  controlled so directly

Bondage takes many forms.
I don’t mean the self inflicted consensual BDSM kind (which seems to be having a Renaissance, on-line, at least) but the position of being enslaved to a tribe, person, religion, a political party’s ideology or the mores of a social group and, there, not be able to actually express yourself freely, as an independent and individual being.
So were we seeing here the development of the “Stockholm Syndrome”?

Scary shit !… as Wombats are inclined to say.

Politics in the Tardis State (where all goes backwards)

Peter (I-know-Nuffin) Ryan has wished his ministerial adviser, bye-bye after OPI said they couldn't find enough evidence to convict, regarding the Overland case. Seems like a “Not Proven” verdict. 

Big Bird, Baillieu (Silvertail Incompetens) is no-where to be seen.

Matthew Guy Un-Planning Umpire, delivers another “goal” to developers with Armidale residents angry at excessive height of new buildings.

On the Federal front Mr Rabbit is “swearing in Blood” to repeal Carbon Price if elected. I’m waiting for the “Horst Wessel” song next.

Cheers, Petals

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