Vers is, of course, the commune in which stands the Pont du Gard, and from the quarries of which come the stone (pierre de Vers) from which the aqueduct is built. These days, it has added Pont du Gard as a suffix to its name, in case anyone forgets its intimate relationship with the third most popular tourist destination in France.
But the Pont du Gard was not the reason for our Sunday morning excursion. This weekend past, Vers celebrated its fifth annual Cours et Jardins des Arts event.
There were 25 locations according to the map, and Jill and I worked our way through them all in numerical order. Yeh, I know, slightly OCD - but the trail was clearly marked with whitewashed arrows on the narrow streets and the beauty of this kind of event is that one never knows when one is going to encounter, in a small garden round the back of the olive tree, a work which makes you pause and give thought.
This happened to us a couple of times over the course of the morning, although the major highlights were those which we could have predicted at the start: Unity Cantwell’s work, about which I have written before; and the paintings and sculptures of M. and Mme. Berberian.
I guess Michel and Christelle Berberian are the golden couple of the artistic scene in Vers. His paintings are well-known, much admired and collected. You can see them and buy them from Saatchi. And you can see them on the walls of friends’ homes. But it was her sculptures which took my eye.
Her work – or at least the work she showed over the weekend – is on a small scale, but it is nevertheless solid and substantial. Heavy.
In most cases, the display did not allow one to circumnavigate a piece: one was forced to view it in a particular way and from a specific angle.
Did we therefore see exactly what the artist wanted us to see? Is the interaction between artwork and viewer, our point of view, being controlled in this way?
I don’t know. But I do know I like the work a great deal. And I propose to return to the Berberian’s gallery when we have time to look more closely at these exquisite but strong and sturdy figures.
What we won’t be able to see on our subsequent visit, of course, is the setting. One of the attractions of art displayed in courtyards and gardens is the access we are given to people’s homes.
We are as nosy as anyone. So we loved our glimpses of other people’s lives: the powerful abstract on the wall of a sitting room we passed through on the way to the rear courtyard, or the beautiful Provençal kitchen we enjoyed whilst pretending to admire a dreadful daub of a St Victoire style landscape.
Thanks to all those who exhibited and provided the exhibition space.
We will be heading vers Vers again soon. But only after we’ve been to the Grand Atelier du Midi in Marseille …
Today from the everysmith vault: Dexter Gordon, One Flight Up. Long Tall Dexter was one of the best, and most under-rated, tenor sax players of all time. I like to think that my step-grandson, Dexter George Voce, has an affinity with this all star.