We drove back via the pottery village of La Borne, which is northeast of Bourges. The Jardin du Mala turned out to be excellent value, we had a large room with three beds, a brilliant modern shower, and looking onto the garden. This was € 105 per night for the three of us, including breakfast, and it would be just € 75 for a couple, so amazing value. Paule turned out to be quite nice, and offered her condolences for the death of our Queen as soon as we arrived. We had a nice breakfast with her jams and home-made bread, although I slightly missed croissants. The room was very atmospheric with terracotta stone floor tiles, wooden beams, and lots of ceramics from the village.
La Borne is set in the middle of a forest, and has more than a dozen wood kilns, lots of small ateliers and there is an annual firing in late October that I am seriously tempted to go down to. Not quite sure if it works for Jenny but it would be amazing.
La Borne Museum
We went first to the museum set in an old chapel with interesting videos of the firings in black and white, and more recent, but with a grainy mystery; and the ceramics included work by Vassil Ivanoff, who is related to someone Charlotte and Nick know. Before setting off for Dieppe on Sunday, we went down to his old house and studio, and Jenny bought a beautiful cup for Luke from the new potter who is working there. It felt very nice to link the past and present like this, somehow, and I was pleased that Luke was so pleased with the cup as I had broken the one he got the day before at the supermarket, by opening the door of our jam-packed car where it was teetering.
As for the ceramics, most of all I liked the large, olive / celadon coloured animal forms in the chapel, a large fish, weird cats and foxes and so on. But also some good abstract forms that made me think about going much bigger with my own pottery, I feel it is all so small and clunky, and I would love to do more expansive work, especially with an animistic and anthropomorphic kind of quality.
Contemporary Ceramics Centre
After the chapel, we went to the Contemporary Ceramics Centre which also had some amazing pieces. White, roughly glazed cubes and structural forms, lattice houses that felt like cakes about to crumble over, rock crystal geode forms that were cut up and then displayed separately, and rock panels joined together in strange organic earthy tepees. Really interesting.
In the Village
In the village, there are something like 100 potters doing work, so we only haf time to scratch the surface, and our visit was partially guided by getting to the only outlet that sold Menetou Salon wine. This had some spectacular glass work, admittedly at eye-watering prices, but also a friendly atmosphere and Jenny loved the paintings which had a beautiful balance of people, subtle colour and mysterious washes that felt abstract and unresolved. It was rather frustrating not to be able to buy more. In fact, we went to one potter selling all sorts of mugs and carafes for next to nothing (at breakfast, one of the other guests said that by pooling the firing costs, they can afford to sell the pottery more cheaply, and it makes sense) but they only took cash, not cards!