Monday, May 16, 2011

Taking the Road of the Solar Wind, 3: the chapel at Penhors

Numerous chapels in various states dot the route, too many to take in at one time.  The one at Penhors has an imposing gateway onto its enclosure, and is looks out onto more wide expanses of sea and open, flat land, a few modern domestic buildings that do little to distract the eye, either to please or displease.


Outside it is well maintained and, aside from the archway, quite typical, I think. Inside there were things to please..



An elderly couple sat near the altar (you can just see the man's white head to the left of the photo). They seemed relaxed, chatting quietly rather than praying, but they had a bubble of calm privacy around them which  contributed to the benign, sunny quiet of the place, but which made us aware of not wanting to crowd them.

There was plenty of wood polychrome.  You get used to this hereabouts, at least if, like me, you spend a bit of time hanging around in old chapels. I've grown to like it; some of it is interesting, some grotesque, some quaint and amusing, some touching.  It seldom feels over-restored, the colours are often powdery, muted, the kind of thing people were in a frenzy to recreate on their walls and furniture a few years with the help of Country Living magazine-type books and articles on decorative paint effects.

In this place though, I felt there was something quite special about the faces, which can sometimes be monstrous or bizarre, or else mannered and saccherine.  These however, seemed gentle, with some depth in their sweetness.  Also in their gestures, clumsily rendered, but kind of intense.








There were also a number of rather unusual fruit motifs, which are something I've always liked in any decorative art, feeling they give a richness to it beyond that of flowers and foliage.




We also spotted another couple in residence, who didn't seem to mind ducking in and out over our heads to gain access to their home (not great photos, they were high in the beams and the light was low).




A place of charm and sweet airs, we found it overall.


14 comments:

Fire Bird said...

I love those stained glass angels twirling


WV - inatieda (sounds like one of those Jungian terms for some obscure psychological phenomenon)

Nimble said...

That cherub is one of the most winning I've seen. The irregularities give it some life. From your photos I can imagine the quiet lofty air in the church.

Dale said...

Yes, the faint clumsiness keeps the sweetness from cloying. It has what the arts-and-crafts movement was looking for, and so signally failed to reproduce: that sense that there's no barrier of professionalism, no gloss (in any sense of the word) between the artist and us.

Another lovely, lovely post, Lucy.

Lilacs In May said...

simply lovely, I can feel the calm through your photography

Rouchswalwe said...

These made my heart catch in my throat, sweet Lucy. A swallow? Angels? The mouth slightly off-kilter, as in one thinking deeply of trying not to burst out laughing. Can't ever really be sure.

marly youmans said...

Very pleasing, these irregulars, worn by time. Somehow they are better fit for the timeless this way.

Zhoen said...

Lovely space.

Plutarch said...

Those angels look like inverted commas gone a little wild. They look as thought they compose a sphere. Are they part of a window?

Nimble said...

Now that I look closer, they're labeled! The four evangelists or their animal symbols. Matthieu is the only one whose head looks all the way human.

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

Nimble, you're a marvel, I didn't see that at all. Matthew's symbol was a man of course, John's eagle is the most evident. In fact it's already a crop, of a small round window above the door, and the full picture was quite a good view out to the sea, so I may post that later, or add it to this as an afterthought...

Vivien said...

Very interesting photos. I love medieval painted wood sculpture - there's a warmth and humanity about it which you don't often find in more classical marble sculpture (although that's wonderful in its own way). Marble statues in their time (the Ancient World) were painted too, but didn't have the warmth of the wood underneath. There's a lot of medieval wood sculpture in the Czech Republic (at that time they usually couldn't afford marble).

Peter said...

I remember being so surprised by the presence of a single bird in an otherwise-unoccupied English church we visited a quarter century ago. Up until then, most of the churches, chapels, and cathedrals we had seen seemed prepared for us with guides and such. This space felt like a gift, like we surprised God.

earlybird said...

More wonderful pictures. You do seem to have captured the spirit of the place. I love the light coming throught the window.

And the mussels in the previous post.

Barrett Bonden said...

The fourth one down is the face of a real person. This sort of thing always surprises me. I imagined sculptors and painters doing work for churches used generic templates representing unrestrained adoration, grief at the world's sins, anticipation of a better life, etc. Real faces encourage speculation: what did he do for a living? An usurer perhaps. Doesn't look happy (but then usurers are...)