Monday, September 19, 2011

Exploring Dark Places . . .

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Where to start ?
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Work kept me more than busy into the wee hours of every morning last week, then Saturday rolled around and daughter needed to go shopping for school things, papa had to open up the wallet at the store. Then all night long la grenouille and I were rocking and rolling, dancing, sipping wine and nibbling cheese (what else is there to do in France ???), and conversing in very, very good company. Sunday morning rolled around and I rolled out of bed, headed right back out to go visit an abandoned sugar factory, for the second time, and it was as sweet as it sounds. More on that soon.
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The only trouble is that the "more on that soon" topics have been accumulating for years now, and I still have simply tons of photos to share with you from all over, the old black and white film days, Haiti, la Réunion island, abandoned factories in the USA, Brittany, and odds and ends from all over. I'm beginning to think another two or three lifetimes will be necessary to do all that I want to do. Sigh. Well, we do what we can, while we can, and that's it.
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I would like to mention a continuing source of inspiration, and that is the Tumblr site of TomB... he continues to post very tasty samples of his simply delicious work. And I couldn't help but think of Tom this afternoon when I spied an old stone house with bare rafters way out in the middle of a rainy farm field. There was only one thing to be done, and that was to go take a closer look. The photos that follow show what I saw. (oh, and please do tell ten or twenty friends to go take a look at Tom's pages, his photos are sublime. Just imagine, if all ten thousand people who visit here every day were to tell just ten other people to go visit Tom's page, why, that would give Tom's site a hundred thousand page hits... wouldn't that be way cool ???)
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So, who lived here in this small stone home long ago ? Where did they go ? Will anyone ever live here again ? I'm willing to bet there may a few souls out there who would love to take this on as a fixer-upper project. Just look, those roof beams are still standing strong, just need to slap a new roof on them.

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I have to admit, we may want to find a new interior decorator, I have some doubts about the last one whose work is visible here.
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The roof on the farm shed behind the house may also need a bit of freshening up.
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And now for something completely different. I'd like to add that for quite some time I have been keeping an eye on Rima's blog The Hermitage, and am simply in awe of her artwork and down to earth approach to life on our planet. Several weeks ago she did a beautifully long post about a painting she did which has become the cover art for a book called Dark Mountain, which is a recent production of the Dark Mountain Project. After reading Rima's post, and taking a look at their website, I ordered a copy of the book, both to have one of Rima's paintings in the house, and to discover the writing from the Dark Mountain, which imho, is well worth discovering. Do take a look if you're curious, and if hooked like I was, then order the book. It is perhaps the most thought provoking work I've come across in quite some time. This is the cover, by Rima.
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28 comments:

James said...

A very sweet discovery indeed! This place stirs my imagination.


I can totally relate to the whole too many pictures not enough time problem. "we do what we can, while we can, and that's it." - Words to remember!

pRiyA said...

Very very beautiful Owen. Maybe, maybe you should just pick Rima up from wherever she is, place her here and make her do up the place just where necessary. She is known to do marvellous things with homes as well.
The fifth picture looks like a marvellous abstraction in watercolours : )

Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

Old and beautiful, yes, but the key word here is "old". A fixer upper, you say? I look at your beautiful pictures and am immediately reminded of that funny 80s comedy: "The Money Pit" with Shelley Long and Tom Hanks. Remember that one? ;-) I will leave to others the intensive renovation work needed to restore the old house to her past beauty, and will wait patienty for you to return and take new pics of the place "post-face-lift."
Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Alistair said...

I enjoy dropping in to Rima's blog occasionally too and saw the drawing here just last week. You're right too - it's an easy place to get lost in for a while.

Tell me Owen, what camera do you use? Do you have a favourite lens for the architectural style of photo's you take?

Cheers.

Le Journal de Chrys said...

C'est ta nouvelle demeure???

Héhé

Tu as du boulot!!!!

Toujours tes escapades dans les bâtiments délabrés, délaissés, oubliés... J'adore!!!!!

:: Karine :: said...

bonjour owen adoré !
comme tu dis : par où commencer ?

tout d'abord, j'ai été plus que ravie de te voir toi et la grenouille samedi. tu es tel que je l'imaginais :-) anne est d'un naturel déconcertant et rafraîchissant !
j'espère que l'on se reverra très bientôt

merci pour ces belles photos sur ton blog
difficile d'imaginer que quelqu'un ait pu vivre ici ! et pourquoi cette maison a t-elle été abandonnée ? quelle est son histoire ?

et aussi merci pour cette belle décourverte au sujet de dima ! quelle belle personne, quelle imagination et quel talent ! je retournerai sur son blog bien souvent

à bientôt mon ami, ici ou là dans le monde virtuel ou réel :-) bisou à anne

Steve said...

A beautiful renovation project for somebody... would be worth the investment in a tent.

Stickup Artist said...

Oh, our stolen pleasures. What is it about such places that hold us in their spell? Besides the delicious colors and textures, there is such an emotional response to the process of decay and abandonment; the ravages of passing time. I guess despite all our best efforts, nature will always triumph in the end. Beautiful post that awakens many deep thoughts and feelings.

Owen said...

Hi James, I'm sure you know well the feeling of instant recognition of something that bears looking more closely at, much more closely. I was driving up a stretch of road on the way to go visit the sugar factory, when almost out of the corner of my eye, and only for a moment, at the right angle between some trees and over the large shrubs and small trees right around it I caught just the barest glimpse of those bare and barren looking rafters, and had to keep driving, but it was all I could do to keep from slamming on the brakes and going immediately to see what was there... but I didn't want the person behind me to run into me... so I made a note to return on the way back home later.

And no doubt you have thousands of photos in a holding pattern, circling patiently, waiting for their turn to land on the blog runway and arrive at the terminal where friends and family and strangers are all waiting to greet them... I guess the question is : how to increase the landing rate and thus the visibility ? Is the blog format the best way, or just one among other ways ? Would a photo internet site garner more visibility ? If one is unknown, would anyone come ??? Other vectors ?

Owen said...

pRiyA, thank you so much ! Concerning Rima, I think she could be very successful as an international consultant on interior design and decoration, as well as a supplier of artwork to go with her interior designs... but then that supposes that she would wish such a thing, and if anything comes shining through most clearly on her pages, it is that she is wonderfully happy doing exactly what she is doing...

But if she ever wanted to come work on a restoration project or two in France, there are no end of fine candidates for attention. The passage of time is not always kind to formerly splendid properties, when families die out or move far away...

In any case, yes, most assuredly, her taste in all things is most sublimely wonderful, imho...

Owen said...

Hi Véronique,
I loved that movie when I saw it years ago, but then I've loved most roles that Tom Hanks has played over the years, he really has a talent for choosing his roles in the first place, and then executing them to perfection... Forest Gump, Big, Philadelphia, Castaway, etc, etc, etc, no end of examples. Were I quite a bit wealthier than I am, I think there could be quite a good market niche to be found in identifying and renovating such properties, applying a high level of taste and quality to the restoration, and then finding the right buyer. France remains a destination of choice for many who wish to retire here, the real estate market remains active despite economic woes around the world. Ah but that is a pipe dream only, for the first project or two to get the ball rolling would require more capital than I could hope to borrow at present, and more importantly, such projects require very close management, especially when all the work is subcontracted out to artisans... So, in the meanwhile, I photograph them, and daydream...

Owen said...

Hi Alistair, totally agree, one can do more than get lost in Rima's blog, one could fall in and never emerge... :-)

I have two cameras at present, a thirty year old Canon A1 which still works fine, for shooting film, and a one month old Canon 5D. Before the 5D I had a 40D for the past three years, which was my first digital reflex. The workhorse lens which I use for almost everything I shoot is a Canon 24-70mm zoom which opens to f 2.8, I find that covers nearly all situations very nicely, although I do also use a 70-300mm for more distant work. The full-frame digital captor in the 5D simply leaves me dumbstruck by the level of detail and size of image it captures. I am still discovering how to use it... I know people who swear by Nikon products, and I suspect they are equally high quality. For some reason I chose that Canon A1 thirty some years ago, and have been happy with Canon ever since...

Owen said...

Salut Chrys, et oui, il y a du boulot, ça c'est sûr... mais imaginez le charme d'une retraite dans la campagne dans un petit bungalow en pierre comme ça, dans un coin perdu, mais pas trop loin de Paris... le meilleur de deux mondes possibles... mais bon, il y a qqs années de rénovation là d'abord avant d'en profiter... faudrait bcp de patience et bcp de ressources ! Pour l'instant je me contente des photos et de rêver un peu... :-)

Owen said...

Chère Karine,
Et oui, un grand, grand plaisir de vous voir samedi soir; voilà le secret est percé, la bonne compagnie mentionnée en haut de ce billet c'était justement toi et tes hommes et amis tous charmants... avec la grenouille nous sommes tout simplement RAVIS... et merci encore...

L'histoire des maisons comme celle-ci ne cesse pas de me fasciner, exactement comme les histoires gravées sur les pierres tombales; on devine bcp de choses, ou au moins ce sont des points de départ pour des songeries intenses sur le passé, et forcément pour l'avenir.

Je suis plus que content si ceci t'a permis de découvrir Rima et son Hermitage, elle est magique... On pourrait en parler la prochaine fois que l'on se voit, il y a d'autres blogs qui vaut le détour, trop à nommer ici... mais bon, c'est petit à petit que le oiseau (tisserand) fait son nid...
:-)
Grands bises et à très bientôt...

Owen said...

Steve, I'm sure investing in a tent, rather than this structural nightmare, would be far less fraught with worry and discomfort... Yep, tents are low maintenance, low insurance, and highly mobile for today's changing times...

Owen said...

Hi Stickup, I can only agree, although such places do not appeal to everyone, for some of us, like-minded souls, they are sources of pure fascination and wonder... I hope to see more such treasures that are surely hidden in the California back country... be well, travel far and wide...

Céline said...

Hello Owen,
Je ne surprendrais pas en te disant que cette maison me plait ENORMEMENT !! Des pierres, du bois vermoulu, des vieux clous... Même le concept de la déco intérieur pourrait avoir du charme, à voir avec un peu d'imagination;
Tu m'a fait découvrir Tom B il y a déjà quelques temps, et je ne sais si le lien que j'ai mis sur mon blog a permis à 10 personnes de découvrir son univers fascinant, mais moi je consulte régulièrement son blog. Si tu ne connais pas, tu devrais aller voir le site de Yves Marchand et Romain Meffre, tu devrais aimer : http://www.marchandmeffre.com/index.html
Des bises
Céline

The Sagittarian said...

Oh hey, I'll take that house - its a real step up from my current hole in the ground...and I love that decor. I am picking it to be Hobo Chic which is very in vogue down here you know.

ρομπερτ said...

The worlds, of time, maybe even of life's innerst within.

Impressed.


Please have a good Tuesday.

louciao said...

The interior design brings to mind the arches and mosaic tiles of the Alhambra.

You dance???!!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Hi Owen,
Haven't been blogging for a bit while supervising maintenance and restoration on my own house! Your photos - as always - are sublime. I especially like the diagonal pieces of age-grained wood. But I couldn't believe it when I saw the tin cladding, because a couple of days ago I found a place clad in tin, and thought of you. Hope to get it into my next post.

Owen said...

Celine,
Ah, si cette petite maison en ruine t'a plu, je suis alors content... Les maisons qui ne sont plus habitées passent, il me semble, dans une autre dimension presque, où le temps passe autrement. Ils s'accrochent à leur existence, résistant les assauts de pluie, vent, gel, brouillard, rosée, orages, vignes et autres plantes envahisseuses, lichens, mousses, racines... tout l'arsenal de la nature qui conspire ensemble à la déstruction, mais la construction s'acharne à ne pas se laisser faire. Parfois ces batailles subtiles me semblent titanesques et magnifique, bien que se jouant sur une vitesse de temps qui tourne au ralentie... fascinantes toujours ces ruines, qui tiennent debout pendant des années de lutte désespérée...

Merci bcp aussi pour le lien, je vais regarder cela bientôt...

Owen said...

Hey Saj !
And here I thought my Hobo Chic concept was a well kept secret, sort of along the lines of Bowery Bum Beauty... but obviously the cat is out of the bag, and a new interior design fashion fad will be sweeping the world soon... keep your eyes peeled for articles in glossy decoration magazines, coming to your newstands soon, bargain basement prices for these catchy and colorful decorations which leave no splash of color untested... If you'd like some fabric samples I'd be happy to send them, there were some rotting mattresses in the back room...

Hope all is well with your own home design project...

Owen said...

Robert, Time passes in strange ways in such places, one just needs to stand still and watch for an hour or two...

Owen said...

Ah Lynne, Lynne, there you are... the Alhambra, wasn't that a topless joint down in Memphis ? You are so quick to spot the most apt of comparisons, it is clear wherever this style originated that it is indeed of world class design... Hobo Chic, the Alhambra, we have gone far indeed, and high... into the stratosphere where all flights of fancy lead. There may even be a floating bridge up there somewhere...

And no, I don't dance, I wiggle... and hope no one notices...
:-)

Owen said...

Dear Lady M., Bon courage for all the work going on, and will look forward to seeing a tin-clad classic... I hope the ground has stopped shaking quite so much... It's funny how one starts seeing things like that in unexpected places if one is receptive to such wonders...

Rima said...

Kind thanks Owen for the heads-up :) Really chuffed you bought a copy of the book and are liking it - it's good stuff eh. Make a note in your diary for next year's Uncivilsation - Aug 17th-19th, I think it'll be a cracker :)
Your photos are wonderful... I too wonder who lived in these abandoned places. Some of them have such left over feelings don't they...
Good wishes from Devon
Rima

Owen said...

Hi Rima ! You are ever so welcome... I haven't finished reading it yet, but every essay I've read so far has fully captured my imagination, there are some really thoughtful, in every sense, people writing therein. And simply a pleasure to behold your painting on the cover. Hope to make it next year then. Take good care and may your muses amuse you most musingly... that we may ever continue to take pleasure in your creations...