I find myself in the parks this week; absorbing, looking.
Park Montsouris, opposite the apartment where I am staying in the south of Paris, was built by Napoleon III and Baron Haussman and opened in 1869, it was designed in the ‘English style’, like a London park but with none of the usual French formality, no geometric pruning of the trees, as at Le Jardin de Luxembourg and Le Jardin des Plantes. Previously a stone quarry the park is situated on one of the highest points in Paris it is positioned over the catacombs. It was conceived as a place of relaxation for the growing population of the city.
Many people have come to sit and read for half an hour or more, I also have a book with me. Looking up from the page I see a moving tableau of people meeting, tlking and walking, flowing into the ongoing narrative of the place, the park is activated. With its close relationship to architecture, the park, made up of rooms, furniture, objects of art, and organic decoration, offers itself as a stage for playing out life.
I am struck every time I enter the park by the overwhelming feeling that I am stepping into a timepiece, a place where patterns of movement are and have been replayed in multiple loops for decades. This was once a drawing that has been realised, with its paths, a lake, a water cascade, and importantly, no areas where it is forbidden to walk on the grass. There are amongst other thing, a carousel, a kiosque, a pavilion, a railway lina puppet theatre, statues, the French meridian line (1) and a pair of black swans.
The gateways in the blue railings allow access into this constructed park world. Entering it feels as if one has walked into a book, or many books. This bordered space is structured to facilitate its characters. I l similarly like to wander through books. To feels the space and stroll around within the ideas, circling sometimes or moving in a straight line
The act of drawing is aligned to all this for me, a wandering through. A simple structure facilitating free movement and emerging patterns, rests and switchbacks. But above all its about watching. Looking at the pages as they they are prepped and moving in and across; containing and continuing.
I have been drawing in small grey covered books, and a French language school text book.
(1) A stone monument in the Park indicates the location of the Meridian of Paris, an imaginary line that passes from north to south through the center of Paris. This line, first defined by French astronomers in 1667, was used as the zero point for longitude on all French maps until 1884, when France agreed, reluctantly, to use longitudes measured from Greenwich Observatory near London instead of Paris. (Wikipeadia)