Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Guest Blogger for May: Susan Cox, Howdy y'all.

Greetings from the Great State of Texas!
I am Susan Cox and along with co-chair Sarah Anderson, am honored and excited to be hosting the 10th Anniversary of the Grand & Glorious Quimper Club International in Dallas later this year!
We look forward to seeing each and everyone of you in Dallas, October 21-25!
Y'all come now, ya' hear!
I will be the guest host for the Q Club blog during the month of May and over the next few weeks I will be posting bits of history about Dallas, along with explanations behind the Texas mystique, translations of the "language," additional information about the Dallas Meeting and stories about some famous and infamous Texans!

Throw a little faience and some humor into the mix and that sums
up the blogging for May.

Now, I will sum up today's blog with words I live by:
"Remember the Alamo,"
"I will worry about that tomorrow"
"Girls just wanna have fun!"

See you in May!

Monday, 27 April 2009

A Day in France

While it’s true that transport between England and France has improved, the quickest method across the channel lands us near Calais, not our destination of choice……, we prefer to take the slower option. We drive to Portsmouth, board the ferry, do a little onboard duty free shopping, have a good dinner and retire to our cabin.
In the morning we wake to find we are on the approach into the port of St Malo.

The walled city of St Malo is a great tourist attraction, but the ferry docks early, so we avoid the crowds. Our normal routine is to make our way to a restaurant ‘intra muros’ and have what the French call an English breakfast, (actually ham and eggs) before walking through the narrow cobbled streets, usually in the direction of a little shop we know that is literally crammed full of new Quimper……..
St Malo has a rich history: home to corsairs and pirates, birthplace of Jacques Cartier and François Chateaubriand, but it suffered substantial damage in WW2 when the Germans retreating from the allied forces set the city ablaze………these days as you walk around the city it would be easy to forget, but look upward to the apartments and houses and you will see more modern materials have been used.

Our next stop is usually a big Carrefour or Super U; we still like shopping in France and usually take back French wines and other delicacies. When we first started visiting France the exchange rate was advantageous and we would fill the car with all sorts of food stuff and household items, some because it was cheaper, other items because they were simply not available in the UK. Since then things have changed; the exchange rate isn’t so good now and English supermarkets now stock a far greater variety of goods.

Without question our favourite lunch destination is Cancale, famous for its oyster beds the town has many restaurants, most of them overlooking the harbour and the bay of Mont St Michel. 25,000 tons of oysters a year are produced here! We used to lunch at a place that simply says ‘Salon du The’ outside, it was not that it was gastronomically better than any other restaurant nearby; its main attraction was huge Quimper platters that decorated the wall!
More recently we have eaten at a tiny restaurant ‘Le Surcouff’: get there early or book!!

After lunch we take the coast road and take a leisurely drive to Mont St Michel. The road winds along the coast and on the right it takes us past a small brocante and a very good place to buy mussels, on the left we often see those wheeled buggies with sails racing along the sand……..
We have climbed to the top of Mont St Michel many times but on these day trips we are usually content to just to meander along the causeway and wonder at the way it was constructed all those years ago. Awesome is a much used word, but awe is the emotion that comes to mind when looking at the Mont St Michel. There is something that speaks to the soul, mans achievement against adversity, or nature I guess…
On one memorable visit we stayed at the hotel directly opposite and walked across in the evening for the son et lumiere. As we walked through the abbey we could hear the strains of Gregorian chant, my husband loved it, but I found it spooky! Mont St Michel is one of the main tourist attractions in France; I can testify that tourists arrive both day and night… to visit early or late in the day.
Later we head back to St Malo and an evening meal, there are many good restaurants within the ramparts, the last time we did this trip it was difficult to park and that was on a cold November evening…..after a lovely dinner we head back to the port and board the boat.
The next morning we arrive back in Portsmouth and head for home, usually after finding a good English breakfast on the way – on Monday we diet!

More about Saint Malo here:

More about Mont St Michel here:

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Quelle Surprise !

I had a lovely surprise in the post this morning; among the bills and ads for yet another Pizza delivery outfit was a little box with some photographs and this tiny (just an inch across) perfect little treasure……..I had just the place for it, in the miniature dresser that Suzanne gave me after I had admired the one she has in her home, but it would be equally at home on a Plozevet dresser.
To find out more you’ll have to wait for the Autumn Journal………………

Some of you may already know about France Monthly, a newsletter devoted to one French related topic each month. This month the topic is Anne de Bretagne, it's an excellent article.
If you go to this link it will take you to all the articles related to Brittany and Normandy:

If you don’t already subscribe, I’d recommend it

Also I am following this Blog (see right) which is written by Quimper Club member Philippe Theallet and will keep you up to date with faience related news ( I use the Google translation tool !)

Thursday, 23 April 2009

St Georges Day etc......

Today is St Georges Day, and St George is the patron Saint of England. It is slowly becoming acceptable to celebrate this day again, usually by flying the flag of St George (a red cross on a white ground) or by wearing a red rose in your lapel.
In the past while it was fine for Scots to celebrate St Andrews Day, the Welsh St David’s Day and the Irish St Patrick’s day, there was something vaguely unwholesome about the English celebrating their day, in large part due to the British National Party using the flag as their symbol (their policies include opposing mass immigration and membership of the EEC )
In the last few years English people have quietly rebelled against this and today we see more and more of the symbol.

St George himself was a Turk who defended Christianity against the Romans and died for his beliefs. The dragon is said to represent the devil.
In the 12th century the emblem of St George was adopted by Richard the Lion Heart while on Crusade after there was said to be a vision to his followers the night before a battle which ended in victory.
In 1415 the council of Oxford replaced our previous patron Saint, Edward the Confessor with St George. April 23rd was made a national feast day

For the occasion of St Georges Day the Mayor of London has written about English-ness and asked what our greatest contribution to the world at large has been - his own opinion is that the answer is the English language; a combination of Roman and Anglo Saxon has given English a lexicon of over 500,000 words. (Possibly approaching a million according to some sources) Research at our local university has shown that is possible to estimate a life span for words. The English language is constantly changing and developing and including words from other cultures, reacting to new technologies etc May be Boris Johnson (our current Mayor of London and the only one that is elected by the people), was right?

And while we are mentioning language we should not forget that April 23rd is also the birth date of the bard; William Shakespeare (and the date of his death too) He certainly made good use of the English language……

I have never seen a faience representation of a St George but we do have some Saints in our collection:
Pictured here are St Corentin, St Yves, St Cornelly and in terracotta St Therese of the Flowers (from Liseux)……..

PS. The upcoming Journal will feature an article by Antoine Maigne about his new book Terres Sacrees , he explains how the book came to be written and how some of his research meant that some pieces were re assessed.

PPS. Earlier in the blog I mentioned the Queen, it was her birthday earlier in the week and the perennial question of whether or not she would ever step down and allow Prince Charles to become King was once more a topic in the newspapers. When the Queen took her vows at the Coronation she looked upon it as for life, as long as she stays in good health I can’t really see her abdicating. (She is a great believer in homeopathy; it seems to be doing something for her!) Also Prince Philip has recently become the longest serving consort; he doesn’t get a good press here but without him today’s Royal family would be even more archaic than it is. A life of constantly being 3 steps behind cannot have been easy.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Faience News

Musee de la Faience

At the end of March the paper ‘The Telegram’ published an article simply titled: Musée de la Faience. Closed to the public for the third season.

From what I can glean (via a google translation!) the situation is this:

It now seems that although all parties recognise the value and uniqueness of the collection there is no progress in finding a solution.

In 2006 the Museum lost four of its five supporters and the decision was made to close the Museum for the season. In the current climate it has been impossible to find the required funds from the private sector and so, with the support of the Friends of the Museum, solutions involving the government have been sought, but still there is no concrete progress…..
The Museum houses the most important collection of faience in the world with over 3000 plates and also has workshops
If € 150,000 could be found the Museum could open virtually straight away
Chairman of the General Council, Pierre Maille, says ‘it is remembered that the reputation of the town of Quimper is not his soccer team but its earthenware’ however the city is not prepared to support a third Museum.
It has sometimes been suggested that the collection be housed at le Musée départemental however Bernard Verlingue feels that le Musée départemental is a general museum and only has two rooms dedicated to faience where as the Musee de la Faience has eight.

Sadly the decision not to open has meant that Philippe Thealet has been let go, for the past two seasons he had been engaged on helping with the Encyclopaedia and cataloguing the faience.
The workshops do however remain open to artists, Patrice Cudennec for example. Bernard Verlingue hopes this facility will continue to develop in future years.

We hope that a viable solution is found very soon!

From Malicorne

Some of you will know that the Malicorne faienceries Le Bourg Joly closed its doors in December 2008, but now the faienceries has reopened and once again the potters are working there.
This has come about due to investment by Denis Baudoin and Eric Le Calvez two dynamic executives who heard about the faienceries closure and decided to see if they could come up with a viable proposal. In March 2009 the good news that they could indeed re open was announced to former employees, on March 31st all the villagers were invited to a ceremonial relighting of the furnaces and at the same time the new owners explained their vision for the factory to those present. A demonstration of faience production followed.
Happily six potters who had worked together for many years have resumed their posts
We wish them every success

From Morlaix

A lively sale on April 20th produced some interesting results, a Porquier Beau botanical with a design of strawberries achieved a price of € 6100 while other botanicals figs, grapes poppies etc fetched between €3100 - €34000

Todays pictures are of my fish collection, there are items from Quimper, Malicorne and Desvres.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Alexander Goudie

There are few artists from outside France that have worked with the Quimper Faienceries but one such artist, who we particularly like, is Alexander Goudie who was a Scot.
Born in Paisley in 1933 Goudie did not come from an artistic family (his father was a Master Plumber) but never the less he was encouraged in his early desire to draw.

After Grammar school he was admitted to the Glasgow School of Art where it became apparent that he was in a class apart from his contemporaries.

Quickly achieving prize winning status not only was Goudie's talent in drawing and painting but the head of sculpture. Benno Schotz, also recognised in him a talent for modelling.
While still a student Goudie spent 6 weeks in Paris on a scholarship, this experience had a great influence on his work; 1n 1958 he travelled to in Spain to paint, but the next year he returned to France, this time visiting the South West where he started painting landscapes.
It was after this and when he had returned to Glasgow, that he was introduced to Marie-Renee Dorval from Brittany. Although Goudie was not familiar with the area he was certainly aware of its influence on artists such as Gaugin.
In 1959, the year of Goudie's first visit to the region, the Dorval family lived in Quimper, but in the summer of 1960 the family moved to Loctudy and to the home that Goudie was to visit for the next 30 years.
In 1962 Goudie married Marie – Renee (known as Mainee) and they set up home in a cottage just outside Paisley, Scotland,then, as success came, they moved to a beautiful house in the more prestigious West End of Glasgow.
For a while Goudie taught at the Glasgow School of Art but eventually decided to devote his time to his own work, he became well known for his portraiture counting Billy Connolly, mountaineer Chris Bonnington and the Queen among his subjects, but his annual vacations in Brittany continued to provide inspiration.
In 1966 he staged his first exhibition of Breton paintings at The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, other exhibitions of Breton paintings at various galleries followed in 1986, 1987, 1992, 2002 and 2005

In 1987 Goudie was commissioned to design the décor for the Brittany Ferries ship ‘Bretagne’ : this involved him in not just the mural and paintings but also in the design of the carpets, blinds, menus and china. In 1995 he again worked with Brittany Ferries this time on the décor of the first class salon on the boat ‘Val de Loire’

In 1995 he started a collaboration with the Musee de la Faience and in 1997 the Museum staged an exhibition dedicated to him (which was where we first saw his work), the next year the same exhibition was staged in Glasgow.

Alexander Goudie passed away in 2004

For those of us interested in Quimper and its pottery his figurals are probably his most interesting work, but in Scotland he is famed for a series of fifty four paintings illustrating ‘Tam O’Shanter’ the poem by Robbie Burns. The paintings attempt to visually translate the work for those unable to interpret the rich Scottish dialect!

Had Goudie been an easier man, content to tow the establishment line, we may have heard more of him but the truth was that according to his biographers he was often considered arrogant, conceited and bombastic. He railed against the establishment sometimes engaging in legal action to prove a point.

At one stage the whole of the Tam O’ Shanter series was at risk of being broken up because of a dispute, and it was only the intervention of two of Scotland’s wealthiest men that saved it.

Whatever his character we are particularly attracted to his figural pieces: we like the way he captures the spirit of the subject, the Breton je ne sais quoi, the detail coupled with a certain ruggedness, appeals to us.
The first piece we bought was ‘The Bretonne at Prayer’: the morning after viewing the Exhibition in 1997, we were supposed to be dashing for the ferry but delayed our departure to wait for the Museum to open so we could make the purchase……… The next purchase wasn’t until 2007 at the post Rouen/La Baule meeting visit to Quimper and the Musee…… I am hoping it will not be too long before we add to the collection again……

Alexander Goudie is survived by two sons and a daughter. One son, Lachlan Goudie, has followed in his fathers footsteps and is an artist, he has been featured at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery in New York

For more information about Alexander Goudie please visit:

Many thanks to Code Bleu for the use of the picture of La Goemoniere' and to Brittany Ferries for the close up of the mural and the portrait.

Thursday, 16 April 2009


It would be hard to visit France and not come across an image or souvenir of Becassine somewhere on your trip, these days we can buy Becassine souvenirs of every type and its not only children who fall for the charms of this young lady from Finistere.

When she was ‘born’ Becassine was basically a ‘filler’. In 1905 magazine for young ladies La Semaine de Suzette was about to be launched but there was a blank page – Jacqueline Riviere wrote the story and Joseph Pinchon illustrated it.
It was the editors idea that La Semaine de Suzette should be a complete contrast from both the readers educational and religious learning, the magazine had stories, games, competitions, poetry, recipes etc. At one time it could boast 100,000 loyal readers, mainly girls from middle class families between the ages of 10 and 15 years old
Becassine was a success and became an occasional feature, although it was not until 1913 that she featured in regular stories. It was at this point that Becassine’s real name was revealed: Annaïck Labornez

Becassine was not the brightest girl, but she was sweet natured, she tended to take things a little too literally with sometimes odd results, but usually a happy ending. At the time the stories were first written it was much more tolerated to laugh at one sector of the community, in the UK we had ‘Irish jokes’, in the US I think you had a similar attitude to Appalachian Mountain folk, for the French it was the Bretons who filed this role, and so making fun of Becassine and her unsophisticated way was quite acceptable

Between 1913 and 1950 twenty seven volumes of stories were published (with a six year break for the war) and the publishers continue to republish these albums adapting and updating them to move with the times.

I love Becassine but confine myself to little resin figures and the feves, however I did find what looks like a wooden Becassine at Chatou a few years ago: despite the apron being a replacement I couldn’t help but fall for her cheeky grin – perhaps she speaks to the child in all of us?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Three men and a baby

As I have previously written about a couple of the ladies I guess its time to tell you about some of the men in my life.
Two of the pieces live side by side in our hallway. The first, a petit Breton plate, was found early one morning at antiques fair. If you think it looks pretty beat up now, you should have seen it then: it was on a table surrounded by a dealers unpacked box’s, the dealer was nowhere to be seen, worse, though its vivid colors had caught my eye from across the room, what I hadn’t immediately noticed was that it was in three pieces ….. (As if being covered in glaze pops wasn’t enough!)After finding the dealer and some lively haggling (hadn’t he noticed it was broken?) I brought it home, had it restored and it has lived here ever since. I have several pieces with the petit Breton décor, but they are all standing up while this Breton is sitting, the colors in this plate have real ‘zing’ too. (like his owner he doesn't photograph well !)
The oriental gentleman was found in a mixed box of household china at a super little auction in Dorchester. The auction house only held sales when they had enough “effects”; there was never a catalog just a notice in the local paper. The venue was a small old war time dance hall which had no heat and the single toilet was outside. Many the morning I have been frozen there, but it was a friendly auction, (for one thing it was standing room only and we were standing in very close proximity to fellow bidders!) I hadn’t planned to bid on the box but as the morning wore on and there was time between the lots I had noted, I started taking more of an interest in the boxes closest to me, I liked the plate but didn’t think it was anything special – the box came up, no one else was interested, I made one bid and the lot was mine, it wasn’t until years later that I realized it was early Quimper……

The rather dapper man from Desvres came from an Antique fair near Peterborough; it was a question of him ‘speaking’ to me…oddly he reminds me of a well known dealer in Desvres. Can you guess who? I suspect that the figure is part of a series but I have only once seen a similar figure and it was much restored, so for now this fellow lives alone guarding some of the other Desvres in my collection

The Berthe Savigny baby brings a different set of memories – the first Quimper Club meeting I attended was in 2001 in Quimper and this piece was available to order, it was from a mold that had not been reproduced in recent years and the Club orders were among the first. The baby is sucking her thumb, just as my daughter did. It was on this trip that Lucy first suggested I get involved with the Club publication…….and just look where that lead…….
PS . You may be interested in this site:
They do some really neat display accessories - I just wish they shipped !! Other people come home from Quimper meetings with pottery, I come home with plate racks etc .......
Also do take a look at the new HB Henriot decors: - the new designs are toward the bottom of the page

Friday, 10 April 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

Last year the Club Update looked at Easter traditions in France, you may like to know what happens in the UK too:

The Friday before Easter Sunday and the Monday after are a bank holidays here, however our Easter traditions start on Thursday when the Queen gives out Maundy money. Christians remember this as the day of the Last Supper. The word Maundy comes from the Latin – ‘mandatum’ = to take command’ and this refers to Jesus commanding his disciples to love one another.
The ceremony involving the Queen dates back to Edward 1, (1239 – 1307) The Queen distributes Maundy money to deserving pensioners - they number a man and woman for every year of the monarch’s age. (Quite a crowd at present!) The ceremony used to take place in Westminster Abbey but now takes place in any one of our many Cathedrals. (This year the ceremony was at St Edmund's Cathedral in Bury St Edmund's, Suffolk) Each recipient is given two purses or pouches, a white purse contains silver specially minted Maundy coins, and the red purse contains ordinary money. (To spend!!!) The pouches are carried by the Yeoman of the Guard. Before 1689 the King or Queen would also wash and kiss the feet of the poor (it should be noted that this was actually the equivalent of light rinse, the dirt had already been removed from the feet by the Yeoman of the Laundry, it’s hardly surprising that this tradition has been changed!)

Good Friday is traditionally Hot Cross Bun Day (Yum!). These are small fruited yeast buns with a cross on top, either where the baker has slashed them or where they are marked with plain dough. There is a traditional rhyme for the occasion too;

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
one ha' penny,
two ha' penny,
hot cross buns.
If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons,
one ha' penny,
two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns

Easter Sunday is for Easter Eggs, just like in many other countries. When I was small on Easter Sunday we would have boiled eggs for breakfast, my mother had added food coloring to the water, so that the eggshells would be pink, blue or orange. Of course we had chocolate eggs too, but not until we had eaten ALL our breakfast. (In the UK often children eat boiled eggs with fingers of toast, known as ‘soldiers’)
We sometimes have Easter egg hunts for children where small chocolate eggs are hidden around the garden and the child that finds the most is the winner, but every participant gets to eat their finds
In some places they still have egg rolling where hard boiled eggs are rolled down a hill, the owner of the last egg shell to become cracked, wins.
And of course there is also an Easter Parade in Battersea, London, where home made Easter Bonnets are worn……

Easter is often the first time that we start seeing Morris men out and about after the winter, Morris dancing dates backs to the middle ages and perhaps further, men dress up in white costumes, don hats with ribbons and wear bells around their ankles. They often wave white handkerchiefs and clap throughout the dance. The men dance through the streets in a kind of jog trot and often attract audiences outside public houses; sometimes there’s a hobby horse, sometimes a fool, and often one Morris Man carries an inflated pig’s bladder on the end of a stick. Sometimes he will hit a young eligible woman over the head with the pig’s bladder – it’s supposed to be lucky!!!

Easter Monday tends to be a big day for sport here, but there is one problem – in the UK Easter can be very cold and often wet, if that happens there is only one thing for it, we just HAVE to stay indoors and eat all that chocolate!!!

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter…….
PS. Here is a report about another odd custom

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Three B’s or Four?

If you asked a young Reading resident about the 3 B’s now, they would probably point you in the direction of a Reading Bar by that name, but in days gone by Reading (my home town) was known as the town of the Three B’s: Biscuit, Bulbs and Beer!
The Biscuits referred to the large industry around Huntley and Palmer: not only the biscuit makers themselves but other companies that were involved in producing the biscuit tins (now collectibles) and printing on them.

Bulbs referred to a company called Sutton Seeds who sold not only seeds but bulbs, and who had huge trial grounds (known locally as the floral mile) nearby.
The third ‘B’ was for Beer: the town had a large brewers ‘Simmonds the Brewery’ right at its heart in what was then the town centre, but now Simmonds are no more: Courage’s, who are in turn part of another huge group, have taken over and have moved to an out of town site.

But surely there is another ‘B’ of interest, particularly to Francophiles?

Well yes, somewhat oddly Reading Museum houses an exact replica of the Bayeux Tapestry!

In the Autumn/Winter 2008 Journal, Didier Gouin and Laverne Conway wrote about a series of plates that depict the Bayeux Tapestry and the tapestries background history. The tapestry involves William the Conqueror (or if you are French, William the bastard) and his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, (the only date virtually guaranteed to be known by every British school child)
In addition to the FCaen plates illustrated in the article there were other series inspired by the tapestry, produced in both Quimper and Desvres.
The Quimper series was marketed under the name ‘Mathilde’ or ‘Kaiser’ (see photos) and was issued circa 1930. I suspect that the pottery was mainly aimed at the tourist market in Normandy. Just like their grander and more decorative relatives these designs show characters from the tapestry (which is actually embroidery rather than needle point)

So how did Reading come by this artifact?

In 1885 a lady called Elizabeth Wardle, the wife of a silk industrialist, visited Bayeux and decided that Britain should have a copy of the tapestry of its own. Elizabeth Wardle was a skilled embroiderer and a member of the Leek (Staffordshire) Embroidery Society.
The ladies of Leek were joined by other skilled needle women from Derbyshire, Macclesfield, Birmingham and London and with the assistance of hand colored drawings of the tapestry lent by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the work was completed within a year.
In total thirty five women worked on the embroidery and each woman embroidered her name under her own work.

For ten years the embroidery travelled, and was exhibited at different locations in Great Britain, Germany and America. When the tapestry came to Reading a former mayor, Arthur Hill, offered to buy it, the offer was accepted and Arthur Hill presented it as a gift to the town of Reading.
In 1993 a new gallery within the museum was commissioned, the tapestry was remounted in a tailor made display case and the tapestry can now be viewed in one continuous strip.
There is just one tiny difference: the original tapestry depicts a baby as nature intended, naked – this was just too much for Victorian sensibilities, in Reading’s version the baby is wearing a diaper!!

* Many thanks to Judy Datesman for allowing me to use illustrations from the book ‘HB Quimper Le Livre Des 5000’

Monday, 6 April 2009

We're off ! - Gay Smith

Did you hear someone fire a starting gun ? No ?
April 1st was officially 'deadline day' for the Journal.
One or two articles have special permission to be a little late but for the most part we have the material to start putting the Journal together.
I can tell you right now that our featured form article "Menu's" is going to be just fabulous. Members have contributed pictures of some truly outstanding pieces, I'm green with envy !
Just look at this jester piece for example ......what a treasure !
What else ? Well, we have something about our upcoming Dallas meeting (you are coming aren't you ?) a piece about contemporary artist Bel Delecourt, an article about Saints (at last: we have been hoping for something on this topic for a long time), the second part of our Fakes and Forgeries feature and a 'Spotlight on Collections' that features a mother and daughter.....In addition several charter (or founder) members have written something about the Club as part of a celebration of our 10 year anniversary.
I hope you are tempted by something in the Spring/Autumn 2009 contents list, but please remember that The Editorial Board are always happy to listen to ideas for features, just let us know (maybe here) and we'll do our very best to oblige.......

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Two Fat Ladies! - Gay Smith

Sometimes it happens that enraptured with new treasures we rather forget our earlier finds, our eyes kind of skip past them; they become part of the status quo.

Take the petite Bretonne ladies for example: I guess nearly every collector has some and maybe we take them for granted a little, but if we look a little closer we will see they are not all quite the same. Some are fat, some are thin, some have mean, pinched profiles, others a softer, more generous look.

As I have always been …shall we say “generously” or “traditionally” built I personally favor the more buxom ladies and have two particular favorites in my collection:

The first of these ladies decorates an unmarked (but surely Quimper) ecuelle; her clothes are nicely painted and are in particularly attractive, soft colors. I have had this piece some years now: what seems like a lifetime ago I used to deal in antiques and collect-ables and regularly had a table at an Antiques fair in Oxfordshire.
These fairs are quite hard work – up at the crack of dawn whatever the weather, carry in the boxes, unpack, set up the table attractively and then just hope for customers. In the UK at least, the first hour or so is when most business is done, but the fairs are open perhaps until 4pm and dealers are not allowed to pack up and go home, no matter how quiet (or frankly, boring) it is.
During the day there is sometimes a chance to look around at other dealers wares and this was how I found this particular Breton lady: she was residing on the table of Helen Baker, who later became the first Quimper Club UK liaison.
I had a successful day and this piece was my reward……. (With this logic it is easy to see why I will never be wealthy!)

Over time quite a few fellow dealers got to know that I collected Quimper and would sometimes let me know when they spotted a piece. This is how I came to own my little coffee pot – a dealer took it into an Antique Centre (or group shop ) in Henley- on- Thames where I was a regular visitor, the Centre manageress, a friend of mine, put it aside for me.
I can still remember her taking it out of the cupboard and saying ‘You don’t HAVE to have it – it’s up to you’… but of course I did, I was charmed. We all know that “this piece is coming home with me” feeling……In addition, this piece came with an added extra …the Bretonnes mate, the Breton, decorates the other side of the pot……..

In the last Quimper Club Journal Don Batten and Janice Kania mentioned how each piece in their collection brought a different memory or story to mind – this is certainly true for me too, which brings me to something of a problem: we are planning some building work here and when it is completed there will be less room for my Quimper collection.
That will lead me to some hard choices – how can I choose? Setting aside some of those pieces aside will be like packing away bits of my life…….
Looking on the bright side, I guess every cloud has a silver lining – less dusting!!!

PS. In the UK ‘Two Fat Ladies" was the name of a BBC cookery program which featured two rather well built lady cooks going around Great Britain supposedly using a motor bike and side car to transport them. Sadly one half of the duo, Jennifer Patterson passed away, but Clarissa Dickson Wright is still going strong and has published her autobiography ‘Spilling the Beans’ : in my opinion she really does qualify as a true British eccentric, but she is also an extremely good cook!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

From the UK - Obama is here! - Gay Smith

This week London is hosting G20. Gordon Brown is hoping that it will end many of our problems and tells us that he and Obama are in agreement on many things: we live in hope......

Apart from the politics there is a lot of publicity given to the 'First Ladies' of the various attendees. Sarah Brown's much quieter style is being compared with that of Michelle Obama, Michelle's outfits are being picked over in some detail with many favorable comments. She really is quite stunning isn't she ? Whatever the politics, she is surely a great Ambassador for the USA.
The ladies have their own program to follow, escorted by Sarah Brown, yesterday they visited a cancer charity and Michelle was a big hit with all those that met her, putting them at their ease and generally being friendly.

Another fan of Michelle Obama's seems to be the Queen who it is reported has her asked her to 'keep in touch'. Official photographs taken with the Obama's frankly make the Queen look like a midget, she is just 5ft 4in tall, with a typical English rose complexion and piercing blue eyes, her photographs certainly do not do her justice, when you see her in the flesh she has a luminous quality somehow.....the contrast between her and the Obama's make her look old (she was born 21 April 1926) and a little frail, when in reality she seems to have a very strong constitution indeed.

Some Americans I have met seem to think that the Queen is just a figurehead here and does little, where as in fact she has a pretty full engagements diary and makes sure she is aware of current events not only in the UK but in other commonwealth countries too.,8599,1183855,00.html She is said to be very well informed and the personal warmth extended toward her, not just in Britain but in many other parts of the world, is not so readily given to younger members of the Royal family.

President Sarkozy's new spouse Carla Bruni, has not accompanied him here. Various theories, some rather cheeky, are given in the English press: Carla didn't want to be upstaged or the Sarkozy's wanted to wait until they could be photographed alone with the Obama's perhaps ?

Given President Sarkozy's stature I wonder how that photograph will look ?

PS. Pictures of President Sarkozy with Barack Obama show 5ft 6in President Sarkozy seemingly standing slightly on his toes....