Sunday, 25 October 2009
I'm the 'Grandma' element of a family outing to Moncontour when my daughter and family come to stay in summer. It's a fortified medieval town on a rocky outcrop.
Mr. Price and I have worked here in the past, painting medieval style windows, often copied directly using images from the time.
As we stroll round the town I point out out the few that remain- there's even a brothel scene from the Middle Ages. This is painted on the window of the PMU bar, only yards from the church- someone I know took great delight in sneaking that one in!
We indulge in expensive cakes from the Patisserie and climb a steep street to look out over the ramparts. I show the grandsons Probably the Smallest Front Door in the World, then we set out for the nearby village of Tredaniel.
Just on its outskirts is the small chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, home to The Seven Healing Saints
These are polychrome wooden effigies, and can cure many illnesses... colic, headache, fears, dogbites, sores, eye-ailments and one for ease of childbirth. Here also, there are plaques to give thanks from the healed..and here we find a weird letter hidden in a niche, praying for the favourible outcome of a court case with the writer's neighbour.. spooky!
There are candles burning, and the boys buy one each to light, declaring it's "against Fear!", which is understandable when you're only seven or nine.
Outside once more, into the sunlight and away from the gloom of superstition, the others trek into the nearby wood to look at the sacred fountain. There's a 'pardon' to here from the chapel every August.
I clamber up a grassy bank to paint. It's a sweet enough scene, so I limit my colour to better express the drama of this ancient place of worship, washed in sunlight with its dark background of trees.
The boys are back and climb up beside me.. "Sam fell over!" "We saw a nest!"..."Draw me, Grandma Caroline!"Pictured: the view from the ramparts; steep steps in Moncontour; Notre Dame du Haut.