The first two weeks of April I spent in France, in Lyons again, to be precise. No holidays, but a fabric analysing class. Still I had enough time to visit my favourite antique book shop in the old city, the Librairie Diogène.
One book I bought there wasn’t a standard printed book, but a notebook full with poems, songs and drawings, created by a french soldier during his military service and shortly after, between 1898 and 1904. As I bought it on Saturday and browsed through it the same evening, I found something that determined my plans for the next day.
This drawing is near the end of the book, he made it after his service already back home in Lyon. The church isn’t special, but I liked that he had given the exact place where he had been whilst drawing, 8 Rue Burdeau, 5th floor. And he even wrote down the name of the church itself, Eglise du Bon-Pasteur. Much different than the young author more than 100 years ago, I had internet access and was able to search for the address and the church itself.
And it proved to have quite an interesting story, so I decided to spend my Sunday with a little hunt for and into history.
The next day I went to the quarter of Croix-Rousse and to 8, Rue Burdeau. Of course I wasn’t able to access the 5th floor, but it was already very rewarding to have found the address and the house this drawing had been made in. And as in the notebook, I saw the church!
The building itself is pretty standard 19th century historicism, copying romanesque style and erected from 1869/1875 to 1883.
Writing, or better: drawing, at the turn of the century, this church was as good as new when the young soldier saw it through his window. For him it was a contemporary building.
Even being only 20 years of age, the church already had a little flaw (and had had it all the time): The street the church is standing in is very narrow and the hill of the Croix-Rousse-district mounts directly behind it. As is common with churches, a representative staircase was planned. I can’t tell you what happened exactly, but the church stands so close to the street that a staircase in front of the door just isn’t possible. The only solution would have been the demolition of the building on the other side of the road, a military barrack, which was impossible to think of in late 19th century France. As the church was accessible through the side entrance, the main portal was left closed and the staircase never built. Even when the barrack was demolished in 1954 the street and the church were left as such and the main entrance remained inaccessible.
In 1984 the church was desecrated and closed. The Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, since 1948 housing on the other side of the (as I said very narrow) road in said barrack, now in the building that succeeded the demolished barrack since 1960, used it as a showroom afterwards until 2008. Since then it remains closed and is slowly deteriorating. Online you can find some photos of the inside, so obviously at least graffiti sprayers know a way how to get in, I didn’t find it and had to stay outside.
Even if I wasn’t able to access the church, I really liked to spend the day at places where a long forgotten man named Joseph lived and drew a church more than 100 years ago and I wondered what he thought about this stair-less oddity, maybe he even went to mass there and experienced it as what it was, a church, with a choir and prayers and light falling in through the stained glass. Supposing he was a young man in his 20ies back then, he wouldn’t live to see the church close, serve as an exhibition space and a whiteboard for graffiti artists. And depending on how he viewed the church, maybe it was better? Or would he have laughed about it, being secular and atheistic to the bone? We’ll maybe never know…
All information given in this post derive from the above linked Wikipedia-Posts.
Short notice: Because the number of readers asking for a german version is increasing I will try to type all posts in both languages. Below the english text you’ll find the german one in italics.
Kurze Anmerkung: Da immer mehr Leser bedauern, dass ich auf Englisch schreibe, werde ich versuchen, alle Posts zweisprachig zu tippen. Unter dem englischen Text findet ihr die deutsche Version in Kursivschrift.
While the number of sewing machines in my posession stagnates another small collection is constantly growing. And as with the sewing machines one could argument that I only have two hands, two feet and two eyes. But, as all sewing machine collectors might know, every machine has its advantages, this one makes a perfect straight stitch, the other one is quiet, the next is useful if you want to make buttonholes and so on.
The same applies to cameras. I love how cameras from different epoches with different films make different photos. Therefore everytime I see an interesting or cute or somehow appealing camera for a good price I can’t do different but have to buy it.
At the moment I own three different types of cameras: standard 35mm ones, roll-fillm cameras and Land cameras. I am still learning and many of the photos I shoot are far from being good, but I still I like the process of photographing as such, the feeling of holding a negative in my hands, knowing this is the only copy of the moment I captured days or weeks ago.
For the last few years my true compagnion has been a Voigtländer Vito CD, a camera produced from 1961-66. It is a cute camera with the big advantage of a built-in photometer. It works with standard 35mm-film, the one you can still buy today everywhere (in contrast to roll-films you have to buy in a specialized photo-shop).
Here are some photos I shot in the two years I have owned it now. I didn’t do any photoshopping (except for the watermark), black-and-white photos were shot on black and white film.
Während die Zahl meiner Nähmaschinen stagniert gibt es da eine andere kleine Sammlung, welche stetig wächst. Und ebenso wie bei einer grösseren Anzahl von Nähmaschinen könnte man argumentieren, dass man doch nur zwei Hände, zwei Füsse, zwei Augen hat. Doch wie mir jeder Nähmaschinensammler beipflichten wird, so hat doch jede von ihnen ihre Vorteile. Diese macht einen sehr schönen Stich, die andere ist sehr handlich, die dritte ist nützlich für Knopflöcher etc.
Das gleiche darf für Kameras gelten. Ich mag es zu sehen, wie Kameras aus verschiedenen Zeiten mit verschiedenen Techniken/Filmen verschiedene Arten von Bildern produzieren. Daher kann ich nur schwer nein sagen, wenn mich, wo auch immer, eine niedliche Kamera zu einem vernünftigen Preis anlacht.
Zur Zeit besitze ich drei verschiedene Systeme, 35mm-Kameras, Rollfilm-Kameras und Sofortbildkameras. Ich steh immer noch ziemlich am Anfang und viele meiner Fotos sind nicht vorzeigbar, aber ich mag trotz allem den Prozess des Fotografierens und das Wissen, ein Negativ in den Händen zu halten, welches die einzige existierende Kopie eines Moments ist und der nun bereits Tage oder Wochen vergangen ist.
Seit knapp zwei Jahren ist diese Voigtländer Vito CD mein treuer Begleiter. Produziert wurde sie von 1961-66. Das praktische an ihr ist, dass sie einen eingebauten Belichtungsmesser hat. Sie frisst normalen 35mm-Kleinbild-Film, den man bis heute in der Drogerie oder im Supermarkt kaufen kann (im Gegensatz zu Rollfilmen, die es nur noch im Fachgeschäft gibt).
Heute nun ein paar Fotos, welche ich in den letzten Jahren mit ihr geschossen habe. Abgesehen vom Wasserzeichen haben sie kein Photoshop gesehen, schwarz-weiss Fotos wurden also auf schwarz-weiss Film geknipst.
Thank you so very much for your comments on my pink ballerina dress, both here and on facebook!
(to those who came here via facebook and may wonder why my post don’t show in their RSS-feed anymore: I had to change my url a few months ago, so when you started following before it can’t work anymore. The bloglovin-link at the bottom of the page was updated, so please renew your feed if you want to keep updated).
Sorry for my radio silence here since the last post. I was on holidays and hadn’t had any time to prepare some posts in advance. And as you can imagine, I didn’t sew very much, either (though I tried to make myself a dress for the holiday, but I didn’t finish it in time).
Normally I have a very strict policy when thinking about blog posts and holiday-photo-posts aren’t what this blog is about. But because I have nothing else to talk about and because I visited a city with a lot of history and art (so there is the connection to this blog) I decided to give you a little glimpse of what my holidays looked like.
These were the first holidays since a short trip to Florence 2012. Because all the holidays my boyfriend and I had had together were domitated either by sightseeing or art and museums I had to promise my boyfriend to accept bathing-relax-holidays this time. For this reason we chose Taormina on Sicily, a beautiful little city directly above the mediterranean sea with lovely old churches and enough art to keep me entertained, but not large enough to seduce me with loads of museums and giant cathedrals (the reason we didn’t go to Palermo).
Our hotel wasn’t located in Taormina itself, but in Mazzaró, a district of it directly by the sea, connected with Taormina via a funicular or a staircase.
This wasn’t only a decision saving money and nerves (because we had rented a car and parking in Taormina is really not relaxing at all), it also enabled us to go to the beach whenever we liked to, the beach being a small natural reserve with the really beautiful Isola Bella. On the island is a very small museum, showing photos of the surrounding reefs and with beautiful terraces from which you have a spectacular view over the mediterranean sea. Unfortunately large areas and even some rooms were closed, but in hindsight I should be lucky that it was open at all.
Taormina itself is famous for its beautiful buildings and its long history. The oldest buildings to witness this history are the greek ruins like the antique theatre. Today it is often called the roman theatre, because the romans enlarged and altered it, leaving no visible trace of the greek predecessor. This place gives you an amazing view on mount Etna. Unbelieveable, but the Romans built a brick wall behind the stage, so the view onto the island (as the greeks wanted it to be) was completely blocked, fortunately not much of the wall is left today and the vulcano is visible again.
Most of the town shows medieval and younger buildings, but some of the old looking landmarks are in fact reconstructions from the 19th century, so you have to be careful when judging them.
Now the maddening part of this city. I said it is famous for its history, its art. Is has rare and beautiful antiques, lots of interesting Palazzi and Churches. And it has a Saracen Castle on the hilltop above the town as well as two museums, an archeological Museum and an Antiquarium next to the antique theatre (website tells me that there are two more museums, I didn’t visit any of them and apparently they are smaller, because they didn’t appear in any of the guides I had). All three, the castle and both museums, are closed. Not for maintainance or because of anything special, in fact I have bo idea why and my guide writes that they have been closed for quite some time now.
So although I expected them to be closed, I am quite disappointed by this. I mean, this is a city famous for its antique heritage, attracting thousands of visitors each year and they don’t manage to keep at least one of the antique museums running?
At one day we made a trip to a nearby village called Savoca. I was confused to see numerous tourist groups stroll through it, not because of the cute little town or its monuments, but because they made guided “mafia”-tours, visiting some film-locations of F.F. Coppola’s “Godfather”. All you heard were things like “And here Coppola shot this scene” and “Look, this is the church where the marriage was filmed”. I overheard a german-speaking tour-guide telling his group that in this area of Sicily your risk your life when photografing people on the street, never knowing who they really are. Well, yes, I know that the Cosa Nostra is active in Sicily, no doubt, but still this sounds like a story a tourist guide wants to tell because it sounds so threatening.
And before someone asks: I wanted to visit this village, because there is a small Capucin convent. The rich and noble men of the village had themselves mummified and burried in the curch’s crypt, you can see their bodies, fully clothed in 18th and 19th century attire, until today (photos of the mummies can be found in the italian Wikipedia-article about Savoca)
Savoca has a little museum, too and this was open! Though my italian is so bad that I didn’t understand a word it was really cute and I was happy to pay the 2€ entrance fee to support it. Beside an old loom and an (to me undatable but presumeably 19th century) table carpet I especially loved this little room.
The damask on the bed is painted with some cute figures and additional ornament.
But the oddest thing is this hook rack. In the middle an antique corset (I don’t even dare dating it. The cut seems to be 18th century but I don’t want to imagine something this old hanging on hooks like that), framed by some priest’s stoles (18th as well, I fear). What a combination! And all in deplorable condition, but the women at the counter didn’t speak anything but Italian so I did not want to start a discussion with them.
Some of you who know me a little better might know that I love art, but that I am absolutely fascinated by nature. I mean, nature is everything, we are nature, art is nature (ok, we are not talking about Jeff Koons’ sculptures here) and no matter how beautiful the things are we create, seing a plant grow from a tiny seed or a small bee working as a part of a whole state is simply breathtaking to me. And so the one thing that impressed me most in this holidays is not man-made:
We visited mount Etna on sunday, it already being very active and throwing lava and rock into the air, covering us in a thick smoke smelling like sulphur. If you ever have the chance of visiting it: Do it! Standing in front of a spitting vulcano and listening to the sound of exploding lava is one of the most breathtaking experiences I have ever had.
You can go by car or rent a bus tour to the Refugio Sapienza, where you will find a large parking place and dozens of souvenir shops and restaurants. From there a funicular brings you to 2500m heigth. If you want to, you can walk from there or you can pay 30€ for offroad-busses to bring you as close as possible to the top. Because of the ongoing outbreak this busses stopped much sooner as normally, so you have to decide if you are really willing to spend the money when the vulcano is as active as it was last week.
Our guide advised us to have a look at the vulcano from Taormina when it is dark and so, after having watched the football match on monday evening in a bar we stayed in Taormina until it was dark. And oh my god, I was completely overwhelmed!
I assume I stood there for over an hour, doing nothing but staring and taking photos (only for the record: from the 665 photos we took, 322 show the Etna, mostly because of the many continuous shootings I made from the eruptions). It was just too beautiful to leave. And though this outbreak endagered our departure flight, I was so grateful to see something this beautiful.
I hope I will be able to sew something in this remaining days of my holidays. but I definitely will cook. Inspired by the HSF, two bloggers created the Historical Food Forthnightly. And because I would like to revitalize my historical recipes on this blog, I hope I will be able to join some of the challenges.