The excitement for me as an artist lies not in exploring the unknown but in how I can effectively organise a visual arrangement that reflects the atmosphere and intensity of an environment, evoking a precise moment of the day under specific light and conditions. I hope you enjoy the work
Feature of the week 01/03/2020
Le Bon Coin, Le Vigan
‘Le Bon Coin’, the painting that is the subject of this feature is situated in a small hill town Le Vigan at the foot of the Cevennes, a mountainous range in Southern France. Although the largest urban development in the region, Le Vigan’s population has remained at approximately 4000 since records began in 1793. During the summer, however, the town is inundated with Belgians, Dutch and to a lesser extent the British.
The Cevennes is one of the few areas in the largely Catholic France that is predominantly Protestant. Like the East End of London, these mountains have always provided a warm welcome (metaphorically) for those fleeing persecution. In common with Spitalfields, Le Vigan provided a refuge for Huguenots escaping from Northern France in the 18th century and as a result both locations became centres of a thriving silk weaving industry for a time at least, until disease and technology undermined and terminated employment.
Thanks to tourism, numerous cafes in Le Vigan continue to exist, either closing for the winter months or eking out a small living during the lean patch but secure in the knowledge that, come the Spring and Summer there will be first the walkers, then later families thirsty and keen to watch the world go by. ‘Le Bon Coin’ painted in 1992 is one that is open all the year round and situated on the main square, being frequented by locals throughout the seasons. The cafe has changed little since the nineties- a lick of paint but it still has the reputation of being the favoured venue for the town’s drinkers. Gerald, my ex husband about whom regular readers will have read, found a builder there to do some work for him, not a wise move as it turned out!
In this painting, I did not want to create a sunny Mediterranean townscape although it was high summer as you can see from the bunting signifying it’s was Le Vigan’s turn to host the weekend Summer Fête. I waited for a stormy day of which there are many in the Cevennes during the summer. The rain has just stopped in the picture, just before the puddles have dried and with the sun coming out again. Like East Enders the inhabitants are survivors and readily adapt to changing conditions.
The painting took me a couple of years to resolve and still holds significance for me today. I must confess though that, whenever we meet friends, we tend to go to the left wing, more cultural Cafe Des Cevennes across the square, prettier, cleaner but lacking the grit of ‘Le Bon Coin’.