Beaucoup Travail

Well it is our fourth day here in Valloire building our Hay and straw sculptures.  Yesterday was a tough one.  I was getting too caught up on trying to make the work overly safe, while Melody was getting more and more worried about us finishing in time. We could sense that the project coordinator was worried about us as well.  So after he suggested that we just stuff the chicken wire mountains we were forming instead of trying to construct them, we just went for it, and stuffed more than a ton of Straw and Hay into the little buggers.  Now we are left with forming these piles of straw into the mountains surrounding us.  But Melody was quite excited when we did form our first pathway though the labyrinth. 

Like usual, the group of artists assembled here for the project are quite wonderful and nice.  Even though this is a competition it does not feel like one, we all have ideas to suggest and tools to lend out to each other.  Though there are 8 countries represented, we are mostly managing to communicate through English, though many of the artists spend their time talking and joking around in French.  Meals together are fun and delicious, though I have to say I have never eaten this much meat since I was a young teenager.  The food is prepared in a very French traditional home cooked style. Bread and jams for breakfast, with tea and coffee served in bowls, Big hunks of meat with salad, cheese and fruit for lunch, and then more meat with potatoes and cheese, salad, cheeses and a dessert. And of course there is red wine with every meal.  So much for trying to loose weight on this trip.  The hard work out in the sun all day makes you hungry, so I have forgone my mostly vegetarian diet, for the gift of a home cooked meal at the end of the work day.

Unfortunately my hands have been stiffening up again, waking me up during the night.  Like in Taiwan I think part of it is because of the hard beds with thin mattresses, but mainly it is because of all the gripping I do with the work.  I am quite exhausted as usual, and wondering again if I am aging out of this type of work. Especially when I have to create a piece in such a short period of time.  When you have assistance and volunteers this is great, but for this competition we can only work as a team, not with anyone else.  I need my chiropractor here with me to help loosen up my tight muscles.

The location is beautiful, quite, green and filled with the bellows of grazing cows.  In the winter it is a skiing lodge, with chair lifts all around.  You almost feel like you are in Switzerland with the wooden structures and exposed beams, such a contrast to all the stone architecture we had been seeing. Hopefully on Sunday we will have the time to take one of the lifts up to see the grand view.

We end here on Sunday.  Then not quite sure which direction we will be heading.  I would so much like to see my friend Olivier, but it has been difficult getting in touch with him because of a recent family emergency. I really hope a visit works out, otherwise our plans take us to Italy for the Venice Biennial, Florence, and Sienna. But it would be nice to maybe take up an offer by the competition manager to come stay at his house in Gap and just rest up from this very exhausting, but fun week at the 4th annual Sculpture competition in Hay and Straw.

Best,
Michele

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