Wednesday 16 October 2019

Dordogne, Berkshire, Catalonia (Part 1 Dordogne)

During last week, three unrelated events took me to a French lycee in Perigueux, a museum in Berkshire and a basketry fair in Catalonia. The self-employed life has always been like that and I have learnt that, you have to take opportunities when they are offered because turning them down, however genuine the cause, hurts the proposer and they seldom repeat the invitation. It was mentally taxing doing all three, one after the other, but my carbon footprint was considerably reduced by linking the three events together and that was important for me.
I have divided this blog into 3 separate posts to make it a tad more digestible!

When I was invited to do an ‘intervention’ at the Lycee Albert Claveille in Perigueux, I liked the proposal very much but was anxious about how I could actually achieve everything. The brief was to give a talk about my work and to teach 105 fifteen to eighteen year old pupils some basic basketry techniques in the space of about 4 and a half hours. All of this to be done in French, which for someone who failed French O level, is an achievement in itself.

Never having taught in a Lycee I had no idea what to expect. But I am a great believer in preparation because if I have done as much of it as I possibly can and done it as well as I know how, the chances are things will work out in the end. It also helps hugely to have someone in the school who has thought of everything from their point of view too. I was very lucky to have Celine, one of the applied arts teachers, initiate the project and plan it extremely well with 5 teachers, 4 classrooms and video projection for the practical instruction. I did the talk first, then three demonstrations, which were projected so all pupils could see, then they were split into 4 groups each with a teacher and I went from room to room. In the end it was a very positive experience for me as the pupils listened attentively, asked lots of intelligent questions and then made 3 different samples from recycled paper or card in random weave, diagonal plaiting and hexagonal plaiting (more photos in the schools facebook link here )

The applied arts teachers will continue the project using polypropylene strapping tape and I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
Thanks to Karen Gossart and Corentin Laval for suggesting me to the school.

One of the teachers, S. Frangeul, brought in some baskets from his personal collection and this one I found particularly interesting. He told me it was a dough basket from the Dordogne and that he also had a smaller one at home. It has a linen lining common on dough baskets but the shape and the random weave were unlike any other bread raising basket I have ever seen. It is a big basket maybe 70cms long and looks more like a flower basket to me. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has come across any others like this.

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