A residency stay at La Porte Peinte is designed to support creative reflection, exploration and inspiration. Daily life is simple and pleasant. Every residency bedroom has its own features and personality. Named after creatures from a medieval bestiary, each half-timbered room is charming, comfortable, and gets plenty of light. The studio spaces are also diverse, ranging from tiny hermetic writing nooks to rustic loft spaces that look out over the garden. Residents prepare meals and dine together in the spacious communal kitchen, and the library in the eaves is a gathering place — perfect for watching films, listening to music or relaxing with a book. The garden serves as a place for work, picnics and parties or pot-luck meals with members of the local community. Noyers and its environs offer countless opportunities to hike, swim, picnic, make new friends and explore. To learn more about the Noyers sur Serein lifestyle, read Danielle Rubi-Dentzel, from her The Trail of Crumbs blog.
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EXCERPT FROM A HUFFINGTON POST ARTICLE BY LAURA FISHER, A.I.R. SUMMER 2012
I came to France in June of 2012. The month leading up to my departure was a frenzied, stress-filled disaster. I had three million loose ends to tie up before I left. Every night, I went to bed at 4 a.m. worrying about all the things I had to do the next day, and woke up at 8 a.m. feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. Case in point: new products came in at VogueVert and I had a last-minute fashion shoot three days before my flight. Three days.
You get the idea.
La Porte Peinte Centre pour les Arts is located in Noyers-sur-Serein, a medieval cité in the heart of Bourgogne, France. I don’t know how to describe it other than it’s exactly like living in a fairytale. The town, tucked into a hairpin bend of the Serein River, is surrounded by fields of wheat and wildflowers. The ruins of a castle atop the hill loom over the walled village. Cobblestones line the streets and flowers cascade from the boxes outside every window. I befriended a little girl who took me to see her grandparents’ secret garden a few weeks ago. In the mornings, you can smell croissants baking as the fog lifts. I spend a lot of time lying on the roof at night, once the moon comes up.
I mean, seriously. My view back home is a grocery store, a gas station, and a Dairy Queen.
It was difficult for me to accept two things at first. 1) To just make art, without fear of judgment or a specific reason or purpose in mind, and 2) To simplify my life down to only two things: art-making and gallery-watching. I had become so accustomed to doing everything to please my superiors or meet a specific client’s needs. I’m the type of person that has seven different tasks going on at any given time, and barely manages to find the time to squeeze in a quick microwaveable dinner. So now I’m expected to do things in my…. free time? Like taking walks? Or long bike rides? Or going to explore the small ancient stone huts outside the village just because?
Yes, Laura. That is exactly what you do. You’re an artist. You make art. And when you’re not making art, you think. And breathe. And hike up to the castle ruins because the view is breathtaking and the air is fresh and you can hear the scouts playing flashlight tag in the field below.
The series of pieces I’ve been working on since I came to France is spectacular. I really surprised myself. I guess I needed to separate from everything that had been keeping me so occupied to realize that there was something inside me that I was smothering. And I’ve already sold some artwork for 700€, even though my solo exhibition doesn’t open until the 17th of August.
I’m not a self-confident person by nature. Major character flaw? Probably. But at least I’m aware of it and can recognize my needs accordingly. And I needed someone to tell me that, yes, ‘artist’ is a viable career option.
It’ll take a lot of sweat and a lot of networking. But you have the gusto for it, Laura Fisher, if you really put your mind to it.
I also needed to realize what I’m capable of when I allow myself the proper time to make art. Before, I always had this feeling that I was wasting precious time by spending it on my own work. Time that I could be using to edit photos of brides and grooms and peoples’ kids and very skinny women wearing shiny things. I’m not saying these photographs are somehow less important or that a career in fashion photography is a terrible thing; it’s just not for me. Filling my days with this created a sort of complacent anemia, an in-between state — busy and satisfied, but not fulfilled.
It’s funny, post-college life thus far has been a chorus of people mostly telling me to find a good, steady job with a dependable company and a 401(k). And all it’s really taken is one or two voices to drown out that chorus. I just hadn’t heard those voices until now.
I know that selling a few pieces of art does not an artist’s career make. I have a long, arduous way to go from here. But it’s a start. And that’s exactly what I needed, what I wasn’t going to find back home, surrounded by the coiffed distractions of “real work experience.”
I return to the States in September. What do I do next?
I make art.
FROM MY JOURNEY TO MAKE ART, BY PHOTOGRAPHER LAURA FISHER, THE BLOG, THE HUFFINGTON POST, 2 AUGUST 2012
EXCERPT FROM AN EMAIL WRITTEN TO HER DAUGHTER BY LIZ ZITO, A.I.R. SUMMER 2015
As I write this in my little writer’s garret, the church bells chime and the doves coo. I have a small attic-style push-out window that is open and I can see the blue blue sky and the tip of a tiled, moss covered rooftop.
The building La Porte Peinte is a gallery, cafe and artist’s residency. A beautiful building, it sits just inside the wall entry into the village. The gallery and café are on ground level and the rooms are full of interesting artwork, from quaint crocheted doilies made into earrings or hardened into bowls, old wooden boxes, handmade linen and some extraordinary pottery and sculpture. All the furniture is wooden. Tables, pews, chairs with high backs and cushions to sink into, and a staircase, the steps worn from use and the walls and ceilings of the stairway cavity full of art hanging.
Oreste makes coffee in the café and tea in adorable little pots. They have these amazing wafer caramel filled biccies to die for! A young woman from Australia, Emma, is helping Oreste out while Michelle is away. Emma and I have a dinner date on Friday night to talk all things art.
Upstairs on the first floor is a hallway with doors to a couple of bedrooms – one housing Tony from Texas who is here for a month doing wooden sculpture and drawing. A nice guy, interesting to talk to. Past the bedrooms is a small laundry room and that leads into the communal kitchen. A big big room with a long table in the middle. Windows on the left open out onto the main street and overlook the grocery shop that is a hive of activity from 8 – 12 and then from 2 – 7. (Shops here and in Italy are closed in the middle of the day for siesta.) There is a huge industrial-type stove and sink and a row of cupboards that house all sorts of crockery and utensils. A big walk-in pantry has things like vanilla pods, rice, jars of prunes and dates, nuts and olives, etc. And a tiny window opens out onto rooftops. There is a little desk at that window and on the shelf nearby is a box full of drawing pencils. You know I don’t draw but I spent my first hour or so by that window drawing. The cosy spot lured me; it beckoned and I responded.
A doorway leads off the kitchen and up another flight of stairs to the second floor and a library. A bright sunny room with comfy couches with cosy cushions, shelves and shelves of books, and a projector and screen with a hard drive full of movies and series to watch.
Back to the kitchen and down the hallway and back to the staircase that comes from the gallery. It leads up to the second floor which has a small hallway to the right that opens into my gorgeous room. I have a comfy bed next to a window that opens onto the main street, a little couch that is so so comfy, and there’s a white low coffee table, a set of drawers and a hanging rack, and a lovely bathroom with a bath, and a separate toilet. The other window looks out onto the main square. It is always buzzing with happenings and last night is where the kids’ lantern parade started from. I love watching the village come alive every morning from that window.
Yesterday I ran into Rita who owns the B & B that Lesley and I stayed in last time. I visited her in the morning and we had a cuppa and long long chat which was lovely. And then I spent much of the day translating documents that I got from Calabria.
Today I want to write. I really do. I feel inspired and long to get down on paper all that I am thinking……
A BLOG POST BY JEANNINE COOK, METALPOINT ARTIST AND FOUR-TIME A.I.R., 2014 & 2015
September 25, 2015
As I return to my less art-oriented daily life after my artist residency at La Porte Peinte in Noyers sur Serein, Burgundy, I realise that the time I have spent there, this year and last year, has subtle results. Something I would almost define as a state of mind…
Beyond the walls and gallery of La Porte Peinte, the actual village of Noyers adds to this special state of mind I experience. A medieval village recently listed seventh among the twenty-one most popular villages in France and one of the hundred most beautiful French villages, it is a bustling place that is on the go. A cafe, butcher, baker, even a candle-stick-maker hardware shop, two groceries, four restaurants and two tea rooms, diverse accommodation in restored homes, elegant shops for ceramics, leather or wool goods, antiques… even a hairdresser … all for under 700 residents and those lucky enough to visit. So in a very small village enclosed by medieval walls and towers, you soon know people and find yourself greeting them as you saunter along the cobbled streets. As you use your key to come and go at La Porte Peinte, you begin to feel that at least for a time, you belong there.
Within an hour’s drive for Noyers in any direction, there are wonderful places to visit and learn about Burgundy’s history, heritage, agriculture, achievements… From Fontenay, Vezelay, Pontigny or St. Germaine in Auxerre, all world-famous medieval churches and abbeys, to Renaissance châteaux or far earlier Arcy-sur-Cure cave where man has sheltered for the last 200 000 years and adorned its walls 28 000 years ago, Burgundy beckons in astonishing diversity and richness.
Letting all these diverse aspects of this region seep into one’s mind and spirit is an uplifting and enriching experience. The long, long presence of man, bellicose and peaceful, in this area – Neanderthal Roman, Gaul, Viking and on down to present-day French – has imprinted the area with a sense of time that is good to re-meet in our short-term-optic world.
Overarching all these outside influences and richness of heritage is the experience of being in the most beautiful countryside. Wide fields and pastures dominate the upland plateaux and vineyards swoop down the slopes to the meandering, bounteous rivers. The land is tilled and used with a deep sense of good husbandry, through long centuries of man’s familiarity with this region’s soil and climate characteristics. One’s sense of wellbeing is enhanced by the “fitness” of these landscapes, the respect shown by lack of rubbish thrown carelessly away, a feeling of the land being always there, unchanged beyond the normal ebb and flow of natural influences.
These aspects of Burgundy feed subtly into one’s state of mind as you work there as an artist. For me personally, deep, quiet happiness and delight at being back in beloved France are amplified by the songs of Burgundy, both literal from the many birds, to the metaphorical ones about which I have written above. Reversing a quote by the sculptor, Antoine Bourdelle, I think that Burgundy’s “grand lines of nature” help to foster art.
Burgundy is a very special state of mind for me.
See more of Jeannine’s work here.