Vallauris, France ~ One of Europe’s oldest and most famous ceramic town


Golfe Juan ~ Vallauris, France

Golfe-Juan along the Mediterranean Sea

Vallauris, France is nestled in the hills, just about a mile above the seaside town of Golfe Juan. Two hours from Avignon and six hours from Paris, this ancient ceramic town is surrounded by history, kilns, trees, mountains and rolling hills. It is relaxing and cool. Like a jaunt to any seaside community, the energy builds as the sea gets nearer. Of course my excitement has been building for 10 months, so I’m ready to meet the real Vallauris.

The Entrance to Golfe Juan

As I Ieft the highway and slowly meandered downhill, the hilltops and ancient stone houses revealed the Mediterranean, with all its vast glory. The night before my orientation, I’m staying in Golfe Juan, a wealthy seaside town just south of Vallauris, right on the water. The bay is filled with yachts, restaurants, cafes and magnificently designed flower pots overflowing with colorful begonia, vinca, fern and others. Bougainvillea line the streets and hang over canopies, much like they do in Gulfport. But I’m not in Gulfport, I’m in the French Riveria and my ceramic residency is about to begin.

Downtown Golfe Juan

Three residents meet at the hotel, the first time we are getting to know one another. We are all Americans. Michigan, Massachusetts and Florida. A ceramic technician and throwing teacher, a middle school ceramics teacher and soon, we will meet our fourth member, a college ceramics professor.

The French greet people with food, not usually fewer than 5 courses, and all matched with wine. And so we began our eating and getting to know one another accompanied by locally grown produce, local rosé wine and locally made cheeses. It was a delicious intro.

 

Our Welcome Lunch

We spent the rest of the day touring Vallauris, meeting friends at the library, tourism department, learning where the Intermarché is so we can buy food all month. And of course, seeing our studio!

My Room with A View

After the view of all things local, I moved into my room, threw open my windows and for the first time, glimpsed what will become my daily view. This sculpture, by Roger Capron, stands before an ancient church in the corner of the plaza that I now call home. Capron is one of the artists who welcomed Pablo Picasso into this humble ceramic town in 1946. Picasso was so taken by the clay here that he began working in the once famous Madoura workshop. Compelled to continue with ceramics, Picasso moved her in 1948 and stayed until 1955, creating a vast body of ceramic art and helping put an ancient ceramic town on the map to an international audience. 

‘Renaissance Man’ by AIR Vallauris Alumni James Simon

Hundreds of potters and ceramic artists have come before me and my colleagues, exploring new clay art forms or creating projects here at A.I.R Vallauris. Each artist wanted and needed uninterrupted studio time in an inspiring setting, to explore her/his ideas. It is a virtual ceramic incubator environment.

From My Studio Window

We are strangers about to spend the next 5 weeks together sharing the trials and tribulations of an unknown creative endeavor.

Most of Our Crew - at the clay supply store aka candy store

 And now it begins to unfold. Meet my colleagues, Shauna, Sasha, Nadine and Pete (not in the picture).

 


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