I miss travelling. Not that I have that much or always have. I was born in France but moved to the UK 16 years ago. Apart from holidays with members of my family and one memorable trip to Provence when I was about 11 (I can still remember the smells of loose tea, infusions and aromatic herbs in burlap baps in the local markets or the crates of fresh, juicy and oh so tasty fruits that we were eating all day because, with the heat, it was all we can manage until the late evening barbecues with olive oil and mixed herbs), my family just did not have the money.
Then 11 years ago, after a design and illustration course, I decided to take the bull by the horn and go abroad on holiday on my own. I choose Greece and in particular Santorini, an island just above Crete. Why there? On the one occasion I went to Greece before with a friend I collected some postcard with fantastic colours and scenery. I had to go there but none said where they were taken. All I had was the name of a photographer George Meis (check him out, his work is awesome). After a lot of research, I found that most of his work was of Santorini and I was ready to pack my bags. Good job I did, I met my partner there (who I will marry next year) and a very close friend who lives in San Francisco (who has to be my maid of honour).
I guess at the time, cheap flights became the norm and we started to fly to Europe mainly for 5 days at a time, always finding local apartments and little places to stay rather than mainstream hotels. I have in my head and in my hearts the crumbling Venice, the lavender harvest of Provence, the wines of the Loire Valley, the walks in Montmartre (Paris), the markets of Sicily and the Green Tuscany (less known but peppered with it’s old papermills), the leisurely discovery and my first sushi experience in Barcelona (don’t ask!)…
I was reading a book recently and this is what it said: “Antonio was right. It was not just necessary for a designer, or anyone, to travel, it was vital to draw inspiration from many sources and many places: to see and feel the heat and colour and people. To rub shoulders with them, to eat and breathe in a culture.”
Sara MacDonald, extract from Come away with me
Since Santorini, taking photographs has been my main mode of expression. I have lots and lots of travel pictures and memories, as well as abstract shots and some of then I took into my last business and printed on glass (more on than later but if you fancy seeing my portfolio or some of it at least check it out here http://www.gaelle.co.uk/catalogue_landarch.htm and a picture of Santorini will greet you).
I think it is essential to see the world and experience it’s beauty, sometimes it’s paradox or even roughness and learn about different cultures. With that previous business, I travelled further afield (New York, Dubai and Shanghai) mainly for exhibitions and meeting with architects and interior designers. I have to say it was a stressful period at times but exhilarating too as I went alone and really had to push my limits. If I say to you had to do a presentation of my artwork to a team of 17 interior designers with no warning and no time to prepare, this is what we call flying by the seat of my pants! But then how much I discovered about myself and I have tasted the world with all my senses.
I am now thinking about using all of that in my new work. Don’t ask me how yet. It will come to me, somehow. What I am trying to say is that I don’t want this travelling to be lost and gather dust in my memory and to add this richness to new designs. All in good times…
Don’t get me wrong. I now live in a beautiful rugged place near the sea and it is beautiful. With a two and a half year old that is not a great traveller (yet) and our house renovation swallowing everything we have for now, travel is not a priority.
Have you been travelling and used some of your experiences in your artwork? Have you done collections about other countries? Drop by and let me know.