Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Hags of Le Mistral

Did you see the movie, "Chocolat"? Set in France, the characters Vianne Rocher and her young daughter move to a small Provencal town and open a chocolate shop. Do you remember when she is walking, wearing a red cape sheltering herself from the very strong winds? That is "le mistral", a very strong cold wind which blows from the north through Provence and the Rhone Valley.

The mistral, though harsh, also blows away the dust and makes the air particularly clear and that combination of air and light, inspired many impressionistic painters to the South of France. In France, they say the mistral brings with it good health and has played an important part in the life and culture of Provence from the beginning. The farmhouses there face south with their back to the mistral and the bell towers are usually open ironworks so that the wind can blow through them.  There are also "santons" or little saints which craftsman have sculpted for generations which depict these winds.

During my visit to Provence several years ago, we were fortunate enough to tour the studio of a very prominant santonnier. The craft is handed down from generation to generation. The figurines, comprised from Provencal village life, are placed in a creche, or nativity scene as we refer to them.

Inspired by these charming figurines, gave me the idea to sculpt some hags and witches from the old country, after all witches do indeed exist in France and are celebrated at the Bonnu en Sorcellerie every year. And being French myself, and loving Halloween as I do, it seemed so appropriate n'est-ce pas? Soon I will be presenting hags and witches of the Mistral!

1 comment:

The Quirk Shop said...

Great post. Love that movie as well, it was so full of magic. I hope to one day visit Provence myself as I too have some French ancestry.

Let the mistral winds blow... Happy Halloween, dearie!

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