Saturday, 21 January 2012

Ministry of Culture and Communication Building in Paris

I am going to start my new focus blog, with these photos I recently took of the building which houses the french Ministry of Culture and Communication in Paris. The Ministry's role is to oversee the artistic and cultural heritage of France.

When looking for photos to include in this post I realised I didn't have one that includes the whole building. If you would like to see a picture of the full building go to

The building is located at 182 rue St Honoré very close to the Comèdie Française and the Palais Royale and is a five minute walk from the Louvre. The building has been formed by joining and renovating several buildings, including the Vaudoyer Building, a former warehouse on the rue St Honoré and another on rue Montesquieu.

The architect who undertook the exterior work to integrate the two buildings was Francois Soler. In his short outline describing his goals when doing the design work, Soler said that the new building is intended to be a blend of different values under the one banner, displaying equal enthusiasm for all arts through all historical periods and giving them equal importance.

I assume that the incorporation of several traditional looking buildings within a contemporary looking exterior metal (resille work) structure, is a visual metaphor for the bringing together of the various responsibilities of the Ministry in preserving the heritage of France.

I know Paris does have modern buildings in places like La Defence but in this part of Paris most buildings are very traditional in style. From my point of view I liked the concept of reinvigorating these traditional buildings in city of traditional buildings in a modern and original way. I particularly like the intricate nature of the metal work and the way it glints and shines as the light hits it. I also suspect it appealed to me because it reminds me of lace and also seems to reference the art nouveau period reminding me of Parisian metro entrances.

You can see a picture of paris metro entrances at this link:

I feel that the architect has taken very traditional concepts such as old buildings, metal lace and art nouveau design ideas and created a building with a wonderfully contemporary feel to it.

If anyone has any more information on this building I would love to hear about it.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A new beginning

I haven't written anything for this blog for quite some time - well over two years, although this doesn't mean I have been doing nothing. I have followed many blogs over this time looking at the things that people do that interest me such as embroidery and beading, antiques and art. I also follow a number of blogs that tell stories about Paris my favourite city after home - the city of history, art, food, beauty and much, much more.

Nor have I been slow in making and doing things during my absence from blogland. I have been doing watercolour classes, french language classes, dyeing fabric, embroidery and beading. I have joined a local crazy patchwork group and learnt to use my embroidery skills in a new way.

This break has also given me time to think about the next few years of my creative and cultural life and what I would like to achieve. I have decided to change the focus of this blog to have a broader focus than simply embroidery, beading and paper arts. Of course I will still include these on my blog, but much as I love them, I also want to write about the other great loves in my life, french art, culture and history, language, food and, of course, Paris.

I am no expert on any of these subjects - I have some spoken french, enough to buy something in a shop, although I don't always get my message across. My reading and writing is improving and I enjoy expanding my knowledge of the language. I know I like eating food in Paris but I cannot say I am very knowledgeable about french cooking and how to do it properly. I also like reading books about France, its history, artists, philosphers, writers and culture.

However, doing the writing myself, is an altogether another matter. Many people over the centuries, especially in the last several hundred years, have fallen in love with Paris and, of course it has been written about, painted and photographed without end. I am sure I could say very little that hasn't been already said by those considerably more erudite and talented than myself.

However I would like to try to bring a different perspective to the subject. Being an Australian who lives so far away from europe and french culture in particular I am fascinated by the contrast between a country where tradition, history and culture seem to be part of day to day living and my country where everything is new and traditions are almost a moveable feast.

Of course Australia does have its own history and traditions and we are trying to preserve them, for example some inner city parts of Sydney and Melbourne have been protected against developers. Also we are trying to develop our own cultural traditions. Australia Day is a good example where public events are encouraged to celebrate the beginning of Australia as a modern nation. Yet, in my lifetime I have seen many changes and much that was accepted as a given during my childhood seems to have disappeared. What I like about Paris is how they introduce modern ideas but continue to live with and alongside the old.

I have decided to include my little part of Australia. Canberra is an unique area because it is a very modern city surrounded by national parks and many rural villages and towns. It is also within easy reach of the east coast and its beautiful beaches of which there are dozens and the snowfields of New South Wales. It has a natural beauty that is so completely different from anything I have seen in France or Europe. Although the landscape has been changed a lot since the first white people arrived 200 years ago, nonetheless, the hand of humankind has not changed it in the same way as the french or the english countryside.

So over the next few weeks I am going to begin this blog again. It will be a slow process because I have changed computers from PC to Mac and also changed digital cameras and need to learn how to make my pictures end up where I want them on the blog - so far verything I have tried so far has not worked So bear with me it is going to be a learning experience. Look out for my next post where I talk about the Ministry of Culture and Communication in Paris.