cloudy and cool

day one
feeling very lucky
lying here in my princess bed
listening to the bells ringing in the hour
to know I’ll wake up here
everyday for 4 weeks
I get up, I eat, I run, I walk about
I ride a pink bike
it wobbles all the way
to Grandfresnoy and back
not sure if it’s the bike or me
when I get to the shop,
of course, it’s shut !

trying to slow down
to notice, to pay attention
to listen, to see
H is keen for text on my project
for the Mayor
and to print for the presentation
in 3 weeks

I walk around some more
there are plenty of outbuildings
and gardens with low hedges
and weedy, untidy patches broken up
by lines of tomatoes, rhubarb
lettuces – tended by 2 young
and friendly Woofers from Canada and Taiwan
there are chairs, and logs,
an outhouse for bikes
one for bits of wood,
H and I clear out the old gardener’s workshop
so I have a place to work (no pressure !)
years of iron mongery and sticky spiders webs
5 litre bottle of unidentifiable liquids
croquet mallet bits and wooden balls
previous artists too
have left their traces
a folded mirror screen
at the dark back edge of the barn
lights you up
folds you, and repeats you
into neat long rectangles

in another rustic building
another artist has left a trace
sheets of yellowing A4 paper
line the wall like fish scales
and opposite an impossible
tall and narrow ladder stands
painted cadmium green pale
or as near as
in the upper barn
the roof is held aloft
by hefty square beams
here are the paintings by
this year’s other artist
featuring closely seen purple lilies
and smeared figures
who move across canvases
with patterned grounds

later, a glass of wine, a meal
another list
a slight anxiety and
exhaustion …


warm and cloudy

after much anticipation
j’arrive !
I arrive at the Château de Sacy
with my kind husband/chauffer
it is midday and H serves us lunch
almost immediately
on the terrace,
which is fronted by a balustrade
from a real Château
late last night H arrived from Paris
and made an aromatic quiche
for us all
she has guests
a subdued Australian
and his insouciant and dark haired daughter
the trip to europe
is his gift to her
for reaching 21

the house is long and shuttered
mostly one room deep
upstairs I have my own
a 3 room affair of unforced
and perhaps 19th century charm
a bed in a niche
framed by pink curtains
(fit for a fairytale princess –
I feel like an excited 6 year old)
the associations are painterly
a bed fit for a Fragonard madmoiselle maybe

a bathroom
with sunlight filtering
through uneven glass and nets
warm flecks of light
hit the wall
and ricochet
across the room
like Bonnard’s brushstrokes
and the wooden kitchen table
and rush seat chairs
seem borrowd from Van Gogh

then I am alone
un-hitched now
for a while
from family and work
unpacked and taking in
the ambience
I instagram a bit
to hold on to the newness
and to show my daughter
where I am
knowing she would love it

but I am untethered from
one kind of every day
and about to embark on another
being an artist in residence
is a strange and marvellous thing
in utilitarian times
when everything, elsewhere feels
stretched thin, pinned down
by meanness and fear