Stories set in unusual times and remarkable places

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24 May 2014

At Château Labottière looking at art, Bordeaux, France

Myself, in the almost mandatory scarf French women wear
The Universe really wanted us go to Château Labottière today and see an unusual piece of art.

We woke up today never having heard of the house (now the Institut Culturel Berhard Magrez). But at a shop, the owner handed us a flyer for the house, saying her son gave tours there. We looked at the map. It was easy to get to and near a large city park, so off we went.

Then for some reason we didn't understand, the ticket desk let us in for free instead of the usual 7 euros each.

We toured the gardens and looked at the art downstairs. We were about to leave when the guard said we were allowed to go upstairs, despite the sign saying we couldn't.

Upstairs, we found this delightful piece: "Macedonia," made by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos in 2006. It consists of a ceramic German shepherd encased within crocheted cotton.





According to the rather awkward English commentary, "To Portuguese women, knitting is a symbol of femininity. By clothing her ceramic sculptures....Vasconcelos is articulating her work on the opposition between animality and feminine softness."

Uh, okay. I liked it because the crochet was beautiful, and shaping it to fit the animal took a lot of skill.

Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez a.k.a. Château Labottière

As were were leaving, we picked up a brochure on the colorful history of Château Labottière. It was built before the Revolution for the brothers Antoine and Jacques Labottière, Bordelais printers and publishers who wanted a vineyard in the countryside. The brothers were ruined by the Revolution and had to sell the house. It next became a "pleasure house" called Tivoli. Later occupants include the mayor of Bordeaux, the Jesuits, a woman and her live-in lover, and the French government. The building now houses part of the art collection of wine magnate and art lover Bernard Magrez.

A brief biography sheet of Magrez in one of the rooms said that he was trained as a tree trimmer. (I suppose it's always good to have a second career to fall back on.) So I'll end with a picture of the garden taken from the second floor, showing some of the trees and intricate boxwood gardens:

gardens of Château Labottière

2 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Both the sculpture and the outside gardens are quite cool.

ninthmuse (roz m) said...

I love how everything just fell into place; you were meant to visit this chateau at exactly this point in time. And I like to imagine that it might be true that she knitted a complex doily and then thought, "Hm. What do I do with this now, since all of the furniture has already been decorated?"