Cameras

May 1, 2010

As I visited a photography museum a while back,  this small black cube in a show case attracted my attention. And memories started coming back in  waves. Lovely ones. My grandfather Ulysse owned such a camera, I never saw him using it though. Books were what he mostly had in his hands. He probably gave it to my father who used it quite a lot when the family travelled abroad or simply when he felt like taking a shot wherever we were. The result were tiny b/w pictures with a large white indented frame.

This small camera really saw a lot ! and experienced just as much too… oh, the drama when my sister and I forgot it on the table of a restaurant in France (we were in charge of it) ! My Dad simply turned around his old Chevrolet  and off we went to look for it. And we found it 🙂 Françoise and I kept a low profile about the incident but never forgot the place and the table ! And my Dad’s smile ! So precious was his camera. The first one I ever remember seeing in the family.

While on a journey to the North of Switzerland, I stopped in a pretty old town close to the German border, Rheinfelden, near the Rhine Falls (our Niagara 😉 . It was midday, all shops were closed and as I walked through the narrow paved streets I spotted this second hand place with the most striking ancient cameras behind the window. I wish I could have gone in and get a closer look. Instead I took pictures from the street. This particular camera was an  Ensign, Selfix 20. This is what I could decipher on my picture later on. A real beauty !

As I took the picture, another camera came into view… one from another century, digital, my own camera, a Sony DSC-W5.  A meeting of photographic generations, eyes/lenses’ contact.

A friend of mine experimenting in the Swiss Cameramuseum in Vevey

http://webcammsap.vevey.ch/index.php?langue=2

My mother’s Christmas stars

December 18, 2009

December 17 would have been my mother’s birthday. This is one of the first quilts I sewed for her. A Christmas gift that she always kept close to her. She loved it. She left this world on December 22nd, six years ago and I like to think of her as the most brilliant star in the sky. Soft, luminous, always present.

This quilt is also  one of my first attempts at patchwork.  It is definitely not perfect but it carries a special meaning for me, especially during the Holiday Season. It is on one of my walls at home now and I see the sparkling smile of my mother.

A few more stars for your Christmas sky…

This was no Thanksgiving Day but these people were having some kind of celebration, for sure ! It was a few years ago in Lyon (France). I was walking along the river flowing across the city and stopped beside this barge where a long table had been set and beautifully decorated. Obviously they were waiting for more guests. A young man was giving a sweet kiss – un bisou –  to his partner. Another man smiled to me and said “pas de photo, svp”,  “no photo please”. Jokingly.

Thanksgiving was not celebrated on this river boat but all the guests around this happy table were definitely thankful to be together on that day. An engagement or a wedding lunch ?  And two of them even more grateful to the paths of life that brought them together.

Today as I remember this moment in Lyon, I thought of sharing this picture with you. To all of you who celebrate this happy day I wish a wonderful Thanksgiving !

forgotten strips

February 16, 2009

forgotten-stripsThere was this old wooden trunk that had sat in the garret for ages.  I knew it belonged to a family member who had travelled to North America in the late 19th century. He and his family settled somewhere in the state of Wisconsin, and lived  there for quite  a few years. For unknown reasons to me, part of the family came back to Europe (France). Again the sea trunk was part of the journey  home. It was transported here and there along the  years and the various movings until I received it from my own grandfather before he left for his own journey. And since then the trunk has been waiting patiently, up in the garret of the house until someone curious would open it !

I did so a few years ago  and was very surprised to find several sorts of thin and colourful materials (lining). Some of them were already cut and sewn together in narrow strips, others lay untouched on the flowery paper that covered the inside of the trunk. I have no idea who could have sewn these pieces of fabrics together, nor what their use would have been. On a cool and grey weekend I  decided to start sewing them together. Just the way the strips of materials  were assembled, sometimes adding a piece here and there to get more or less  the same lenght. Here is the beginning of a wall hanging (maybe but maybe not?) I sewed with some of these forgotten strips. More are waiting to be added.bouts-de-bouts

I am not sure yet how this pannel will look like when all the fabrics will be sewn together.  But I am  so enjoying the journey though !  The crossing over the Atlantic in a ship of  La Compagnie Transatlantique where many other hopeful passengers had embarked for a new life in America. Then travelling further from New York to Wisconsin,  finding work, settling down, raising a family, learning a new language and way of life. All so different from the mountainous forest area they had left back home.  Years later the family separated, the children stayed in America, the parents came back to Europe. If the trunk could speak… what stories would it tell ?

Sparks of Central Asia

January 16, 2009

mosaique-asie-centrale-blog1

Mid-March in Moscow, the roads of the city were still bordered with heaps of wet and dirty snow, the sun had been scarce and timid for months,  the temperatures  still low. During a vacation, I felt like heading South for a while and spend a few days in Central Asia. I chose the Republic of Uzbekhistan for all I had read about Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, the Silk Road, the famous astronomer Ulug Beg, Tamerlan’s loved wife, Bibi Khanum and more. Those ancient and brilliant civilisations that I had been dreaming of learning more about and seeing what the present cities looked like.

I think the Aeroflot flight took about 6-7 hours from Moscow to Samarkand. It was my first flight outside the Russian capital since I had arrived there in the late Fall. A great excitement ! As soon as the plane landed and the doors of the Tupolev were opened,  all passengers were welcomed by Spring.  We had left snow and a cold Winter in Moscow and found sunshine, flowerbeds, a sweet scent of roses in the parks,  along the roads leading to the center of Samarkand. What a joy ! I will never forget my first day in Central Asia. It looked definitely like another continent to me, one of colours (the  clothes Uzbeks were wearing as well as the blue mosaics covering many ancient buildings and medresse, islamic schools).  A world of scents I discovered going to the market, so many more vegetables and fruits than in Moscow at the same season ! I bought peaches, grapes, figs, even cherries if I remember well. I ate  spicy roasted lamb kebabs in small shops along the streets, I loved drinking glasses of a strong black tea in a “tchaikhanas” (houses where tea is served). I just enjoyed strolling around, trying to find my way in the narrow alleys leading to hidden palaces and antique ruins.  People were friendly and eager to meet foreigners at that time but talking to them was a bit difficult; my Russian knowledge was still poor, I did not know any word in uzbeki arabic. Sometimes I would find someone understanding a bit of English or German. But still I was welcomed anywhere I went and helped and guided as much as possible.

It has been a long time since my travel to Uzbekhistan,  politics and new ways of life brought changes there too, good or less so. The Uzbekh Republic no longer belongs to the Soviet Union, wars have been raging at its borders, time surely has left its marks on this ancient world like everywhere else. My memories of this journey (far too short) to the ancient Uzbekh cities remain  filled with admiration for all its historic figures, the architecture of its monuments that bears witness to a prestigious past. And last by not least, the warm welcome I received by the people I met.

Ulysse’s books

January 14, 2009

ulysses-books4Ulysse was my grandfather, one whom I suppose everyone would wish to call “grand-papa”. His origin was Swiss-Italian. His father, a sculptor, came to the French-speaking part of Switzerland in search of work, which he found in a small town where my own grand-father was born. As far as I remember, my souvenirs of Ulysse were those of a kind, patient, humorous and  sociable person. He used to sit for hours in his “grand-father’s armchair”, reading through his very thick glasses, oblivious of everything happening around him. Lost in his own world. He read whole bookcases. Mainly  history books. They were about the history of the canton  he was born in (Valais), and of its people. He collected ancient books too and, when money permitted it, he  had  some of them bound by Léon, a good friend of his, a  bookbinder who loved books and treated them with the same respect and admiration  as Ulysse did.  This soft,  scented leather  enchanted me whenever Ulysse showed me his recent discoveries.

Before he passed my grandfather gave me something  precious : many of his history books and the wish to learn more about  it.  He also gave me   the love of books, of reading and writing. I was lucky to receive his old armchair too. When I sit there, a book in my hands, not a day passes without thinking of my grandfather. With such gratitude and happiness that our paths crossed.