Saturday, the 12thof January, 2013 was a cold, damp evening in Lourmarin. If we had not been invited to dinner, we probably would have snuggled in with a fire and a good book or the next episode of Downton Abbey. But no fire or good book or even Downton Abbey could ever equal the evening ahead.
We were invited by Damion, his girlfriend, and his daughter, Natalie, all whom we had met at Bernadette’s picnic several times and discovered that we shared art in common. Damion (who is nicknamed Picasso because of an uncanny resemblance) is/was… I’ll explain later… a sculptor and painter, Natalie, an aspiring wood cutter and printer, and Martine, just plain beautiful… so much so that I will paint her soon.
You know, you can meet, even make friends with someone over a period of several months, yet if you haven’t seen their lair, so to speak, you really don’t know much about them at all.
So, picture this… and, like so many things that have happened to us this first year in Lourmarin, it seemed a bit surreal. A tres vite ride (Natalie-she’s the type that doesn’t mess around) through the little tiny streets of Cadenet, winding, climbing, twisting up and up and we are there, in front of this little door surrounded with ivy next to many other unique doors. And Natalie opens it to be stopped by a pale, dusty orange drape which when parted reveals a cozy, toasty warm, petit sitting room with a wood burning stove on one wall and two generously comfy pale orange canapés at right angles on the other. But I just begin: centuries old walls, some creamy white, some with eons of age on them, all curving to an apex in the center. The whole room filled with sculptures, large, small, some polished brass, some dark bronze, some small enough to cup in your hand, a magnificently large marble torso that I immediately wanted to caress, another large sculpture of a figure made of onyx (and later in the evening as Damion shown a light behind it) it glowed and came alive with heavenly warm and cool colors revealing amazing fissures… I wanted to hug it). Huge lamps, bigger than any I have ever seen in my life, with their gargantuan shades so big they could only sit on the floor, a glass top coffee table with something like a giant, old brass wasp as the base, an exceptionally handsome bureau with all its nooks and crannies covered with works of art, occasional tables the likes of which I would snatch up at Ile Sur La Sorgue. And of course, paintings throughout, almost hung with abandon. We sat there much of the evening and I don’t think I ever took all of it in.
Dinner time and we climb two flights of steps… one curving stone, the other old, timeless walnut with a rope to help to the top floor… we arrive to the dinner table and again another small sitting room, again with paintings, painted furniture, clay waiting to be touched (I am told there is a portrait in the making under the plastic), and a second small kitchen. And what for dinner but a delicious pot au feu with le canard instead of le boeuf, just right on a cold evening, followed by a salad of endive, apple, and beets – unusual and delicious. Back down to the fire to peruse Natalie’s portfolio and quel talent; woodcuts, or the unique results and elegant prints on this fantastic creamy paper. We buy one.
I am aghast to find out that Damion no longer sculpts. He admits he is tired of creating the same thing. But quelle dommage, as his work is the caliber of what one would find in a museum, or better. What talent, again. It definitely runs in the family. I want to buy one of his small bronzes but I was too shy to ask. Maybe next time I will broach the subject.