The first was at the main museum, of pictures by Emile Daube. Unfortunate name, perhaps, but daubs they were not. He was for long in charge of the museum's art collection, and also taught painting to appreciative students some of whose works were also there. He struck me rather as one of those unfortunates whose actual talents lie in a direction other than their creative passion; he painted some brilliantly accomplished formal and informal portraits, but clearly his great love was for landscapes, which he painted in large numbers, the majority of which were just fair to middling, many in the post-impressionist style typified by the Pont-Aven school, but which had a respectable offshoot here in the north of Brittany also.
The second exhibition was a short-run show of work by women sculptors from this departement to mark International Women's Day, and was held in a converted chapel opposite nearby. The chapel is a rather sombre and forbidding building from the outside, but inside proved to be a well-lit and conducive space. I loved these wooden shapes by Irene Le Goaster.
I don't find wrought and cut metal work, of which there was a certain amount, very sympathetic, though it was clever, but this critter from reclaimed materials was fun.
This one appeared to be making a comment, I assume from the air of cheerfulness of the figure a fairly sanguine one, on the future of women in the age of the Internet and the Euro.
These two, the first in ceramic, the second wood, seem to portray quite opposing visions of womanhood. The split, hollow and faceless wood form we found sad and disturbing.
My favourites though, I think, were some granite heads by Nathalie Reau.Having worked with granite a little when I repointed the front of the house, I am hugely impressed by anyone who can cajole this material into beautiful shapes. Only the dressings of our house are made from cut blocks of the real hard granite, the rest of the walls are composed of some softer and browner granity type stuff ( I'm not a geologist!) which was probably just what was ploughed and dug out of the fields, and which breaks easily along a horizontal grain. However, just to chip neatly a little from the edge of the blue and mica speckled doorway stones with a cold chisel was heavy going.
Last year I saw a wonderful granite sculpture of a seal by the animal sculptor Jean Lemonnier, who is based at La Gacilly in Morbihan (unfortunately the website linked does not feature the seal, but other things of his). It was left rough and unpolished, which conveyed the massive ruggedness of both the animal and the coast where it lived. These heads were solid and chunky, but polished and with a subtlety of expression.
The one above is entitled 'Paternal Love'; he is strong, with much upward movement, possibly a little stern, but also, like all these faces, somwhat mischievous.
This one, I think my favourite, is 'The Goddess of Accomplishment'. I love the way her tongue protrudes slightly at the corner of her mouth, just as perhaps the sculptor's own does as she concentrates hard on achieving her task. But accomplissement also carries a sense of fulfillment, completion, repletion. She could also be seen as having the slit-eyed, far away, sleepy look of a satisfied woman.
And this fine character is 'The Lady of Perros'. That is to say Perros Guirrec on the Rose Granite Coast, to the north and the west of here, where the sea is blue and the rocks are pink and the Islands are Seven, and the granite is the finest.
( All photos taken with permission.)