The town of Caylus where my wife and I currently live sits on the edge of the steep valley that drops down to the river Bonnette in the department of the Tarn et Garonne. The houses cluster one on top of the other in a fairytale picture of stone and pantiles with hardly a straight line to be seen.
Like so much of the region the town is medieval, it survived the Albigensian Heresy of 1211, when it was set alight, and later the hundred years war. The area is steeped in history, most of it bloody, but has left behind an area of outstanding natural beauty. There still remains today many fine examples of houses from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, the three doors above, from my book ‘Between Two Rivers’, are details from just three of them.
This is a beautiful area of France sandwiched between the rivers Lot and Aveyron with all the charm of French markets, good wine and a good climate. As an artist the things I am most attracted to however are the details, windows flanked by old shutters and draped in pot plants, ancient doorways, old signage on walls and shop fronts. The patina of everyday life past and present that makes up the character of a place.
When we first came to live in this part of south west France I filled a sketchbook with these things, the markets, the vernacular architecture, old lavoirs, men playing boules, the street festivals. It was eventually published as ‘Between Two Rivers’ in English and French and tells the story of the region as seen through the eyes of an artist and the experiences my wife and I had coming to live here with our dog ‘Womble’.
Extracts from Between Two Rivers will be published on a regular basis on this blog