Four intense days of art and culture from Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th October for 17 Sixth form artists along with Mrs Sutton and Mr Nairne.
Although we had had a few days to recover before the trip started the full-on craziness of FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain) held at the Grand Palais, which was our first stop on Thursday afternoon, left us feeling pretty overwhelmed. FIAC is the French equivalent of Frieze with hundreds of art galleries showing thousands of artwork. A boat trip on the Seine calmed us all before returning to our well-placed but unassuming hotel near the Gare Du Nord.
The next three days were intense as we navigated through Paris’ metro tunnels to see some great art. Two of the museums we visited were dedicated to sculptors, Ossip Zadkine and August Rodin respectively. Zadkine is less well known but is a respected mid-C20th figurative sculptor and we had a productive hour or so at his converted house and atelier. Rodin’s work is beautifully displayed and was the highlight of the tour for a few. For others it was certainly the Musée D’Orsay, where we gazed in awe at some of the wonderful Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work that this converted railway station displays. Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh were a delight to the eyes and looking stunning in recently refurbished displays.
More modern and contemporary work was seen at the Pompidou Centre and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, while Musée Quai Branly’s extraordinary displays of primitive art plundered during France’s colonial past, provided a different viewpoint.
Saturday evening was spent on the Champs Elysée window shopping, and eating, at the end of which all 18 of us sat down together on the top floor of the Haagan Dazs restaurant for an individually customised ice cream selection and topping.
Sunday was our last day and the morning was spent at Montmartre where OC, Jack McNiven, led us on his “Draw and Discover” tour of the area. We were put through a series of quick sketches, while he and fellow artist Adélaïde Francois told us something of the area. The sun shone and we enjoyed doing further work in our sketchbooks – for one piece we all ended up drawing in each other’s’ and so each now has a drawing made by all 18 of us!
Later that afternoon, as we rode the Eurostar back to London, we could reflect on some of the extraordinary artwork we had seen and recorded in our sketchbooks as well as the enjoyment of sharing the experience together. The Cranleighians were fun to be with and their willingness to be chased round the transport systems of Paris made me and Mrs Sutton’s time hassle free.