CHAPTER XV

 

 

THE  RENEWAL  OF  LA  BORNE: l943

 

 

      In the ledger which Guillaume opened on his commercial activity in La Borne two records were noted for l943, each for a firing of the 'grand four', the 'cuisson du 5 juillet' and 'cuisson du l8 septembre'.  Writing to Guillaume on 22 March, Lerat reported the unpacking of a further firing in which a large number of his pieces had been packed:

 

                       '... Mes vases sont tous enfournés, une

                       centaine environ, il ne reste que quelques

                       petits anges que j'arriverai à faire mettre ...' (l)

 

      The pieces in question correspond to fiches l55 to l59 (ii), and in conjunction with the ledger entries for July and September it is possible to sub-divide Lerat's productivity for the year into four distinct periods, each of approximately three months and distinguished by an emphasis on a particular type of ware (Table 8):

 

                       Period I   - to early March

                       Period II  - early March to late June

                       Period III - late June to early September

                       Period IV  - early September onwards.

 

Period I

 

      Except for the little angels (fiche l56) mentioned in his letter of 22 March, the remainder of the work he produced during this period, as recorded in fiche l55 to l59(ii), was devoted to four coupes and one hundred and nine vases.  There is little to distinguish these from the range of similar kinds of ware he had produced during the latter part of the previous year except to observe that, in most instances, decoration was being handled with greater reserve and was maintaining its close integration with the forms.

 

The arrival of André Rozay

 

      In his letter of 22 March, Lerat had mentioned a new personality in Bedu's atelier, 'Rozay travaille en ce moment à un groupe de poules avec un coq.' (2)  With the passing of a half century, the accounts of André Rozay's arrival in La Borne are now legend:

 

                       '... des Années Noires.  Occupation, Requisition.

                       Travail obligatoire.  Un ordre de rejoindre

                       Kassel.  Le train, toujours le train.  Il entre

                       par une portière, ressort par l'autre et, un

                       vieux car, à gazogène sans doute, le dépose à

                       La Borne o il vient se planquer ...' (3)

 

      Rozay's precipitous departure from home was undoubtedly because his political leanings could not be reconciled with the prospects of assisting the German war effort.  Then working as a 'modeleur - décorateur faîencier' in the Maison Berlat et Mussier in Vierzon, (4) his professional training had been acquired in the workshops of that town, where he first gained employment at the age of thirteen.  At part-time classes in the Ecole Professionnelle de Vierzon, he had been taught by Marc Larchevêque, from whom he had received his Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle. (5)  Similtaneously, he attended evening and Sunday morning classes in the 'Beaux Arts' in Bourges, studying drawing, painting and modelling.  Rozay further augmented his artistic experiences by profiting from the fact that his father worked on the railways, thus entitling him to free travel.  On off-days he visited the major galleries of Paris and other cities, or set-off for the nearest coast to draw and paint his passion, the sea. (6)  By l943, his work consisted primarily in providing his employers with original models which, 'après moulage, seront tirés à X exemplaires sous forme de pendules, de nus, de petits personnages, de chiens et de chats.' (7)

 

      While attending the 'Beaux Arts' in Bourges, Rozay had often heard Edouard Duneufgermain speaking of La Borne (8), and having become friendly with Lerat, he used to cycle to the village to visit him and to see the potteries.  When it became evident that he was expected to travel to Germany for the S.T.O. - Service du Travail Obligatoire - he expressed his concern and apprehension to Lerat who offered to speak to Guillaume about him.  Guillaume accordingly agreed to a collaboration in Bedu's workshop though this must have been perceived as a period of trial since Rozay was not at any time registered in the official 'Livre de Paye à l'Etablissement Guillaume.'  In the village, 'il a logé dans la même maison que Jean (Lerat), et c'était une maison avec deux chambres.  Ils avaient les chambres côte à côte et Jean avait loué cette maison.' (9)  The house in question, belonging to Madame Talbot-Senée, was situated in the centre of La Borne d'en Bas, adjacent to the tabac, and on the corner of the small lane which led down to the heart of 'Les Grandes Boutiques.'

 

      The cock, hen and their brood which are mentioned in Lerat's letter is the second sketch on Fiche l, La Borne, ROZAY, (Fig. l96), the first of six which remain in François Guillaume's papers.  Not having any experience of grès, nor having learned to throw on the wheel, Rozay was originally oblidged to depend on the skills he had acquired prior to arriving in La Borne and, except for one decorated pot, the first four fiche show sixteen figures or groups which used the method already developed by Lerat, namely, modelling a solid form, cutting and hollowing the two sections before rejoining and final finishing.  As with all the other products of the Guillaume enterprise, such pieces were sold in the shop in rue des Arènes, but a flavour of Rozay's abilities at the time can be gained by viewing an early portrait of his grandfather (Fig. l97) upon which 'L'pée Souris' of Fiche I appears to be based.

 

      Guillaume's ledger entries, which are evidently sales records, note those of Rozay for the 'cuisson du 5 Juillet' as: l Vase, l Sanglier, l groupe de poules, Tête de Christ, Paysan, Paysan, Buveur and Vache, that is, all the pieces, except the 'Vierge au Rosier', which are sketched on Fiches l and 2. (Fig. l98)

 

The arrival in Bourges of Henri Malvaux

 

      While the employment of André Rozay may have been stimulated by Guillaume's wish to expand a successful enterprise, it may also have been due to changes that had taken place in the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Bourges.  At the beginning of the year a new director, Henri Malvaux, had been appointed to replace Edouard Duneufgermain.  Malvaux was already familiar with the city, having taught in the Lycée des Garçons in l932, before moving to Mâcon where he was 'professeur de dessin' in both the Lycée de Mâcon and the Ecole Normale de Garçons, as well as holding the position of director of the Ecole Municipale des Arts Décoratifs. (l0)  Born in Beauzée-sur-Aire, in the département de Meuse, on 27 April l908, he had been accepted directly into the second year of courses in the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in l925, and from which he had graduated in l930.  During his years in Paris he had formed a close friendship with the director of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure, Leon Deshairs, who was simultaneously director of the journal 'Art et Décoration' and librarian of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. (ll)  This friendship had helped to extend Malvaux's knowledge of the decorative arts, and particularly that of modern French ceramics, Deshairs having compiled a significant collection of the works of ceramic artists such as Lenoble, Delaherche, Decoeur and André Methey (l2), with whom the major Fauvist painters had collaborated. (l3)

 

      His years at Mâcon had coincided with those in which attention had been centered on 'Art Populaire' and the crafts, and such subjects formed the themes of the numerous exhibitions, official inaugurations and regional activities which he organised, in addition to arranging visits from notable figures from the Parisian art world, such as Georges Henri Rivière. (l4)  Being called upon to animate the activities of the Société des Amis des Beaux Arts de Mâcon, he had instituted a series of annual exhibitions with traditional subject matter as themes.  His personal interest in 'Art Populaire' led to his participation, in Roaumont, at the 'Congrès International de folklore et d'art populaire' in l939.  With the outbreak of war and the surrender of France, he had been a founder member of the 'Association Jeunes France' which, in Lyons, had assembled a number of major artists who were intent on maintaining the independence of French Art in the 'zone libre.' (l5)  In the year before his transfer to Bourges, he had established 'Centres de Formation Artistique' in 'Mâcon, Lyon, Prisse and Saint-Laurent-Les-Mâcon', and had been appointed 'Chargé de mission au Service de l'artisanat for the Ministry of Industrial Production. (l6)

 

      By June l943, his aspirations and plans for the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts et des Arts Appliqués à l'Industrie de Bourges had been formulated, and when articulated, were to have implications for La Borne, and particularly for the Guillaume enterprise.  At the end of June, l943, Malvaux gave an interview to a journalist of 'La Dépêche du Berry' in which his ideas for the development of the arts in Bourges and the Berry region were enunciated, 'Avant d'être techniques, les Beaux-Arts touchent la sensibilité.  Une école des Beaux Arts doit rayonner, atteindre les différentes classes sociales, interférer avec la vie régionale.' (l7)  As well as having a vision for the development of quality courses in Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, he had paid specific attention to the applied arts.

 

                       '... Au titre de chargé de mission du Service

                       Central de l'Artisanat, je dois précisément

                       rechercher les mesures les plus propres à

                       former le goût artistique des jeunes artisans.

                       L'Ecole de Bourges devient un champ d'expériences

                       sur le plan national. Elle me permettra de

                       concrétiser un certain nombre d'idées dont

                       utilisation pourra être généralisée "On ne peut

                       plus intéresser les jeunes gens à la céramique!"

                       déplore par exemple le Service Central de

                       l'Artisanat.  Je vais donc créer, à la rentrée,

                       un vrai cours de céramique, avec four electrique

                       et tout le matérial nécessaire, qui me permettra

                       de reprendre l'expérience que j'ai déjà faite à

                       Mâcon, oû, avec des moyens reduits, j'ai pu former

                       dix jeunes céramistes épris de leur métier.

                       Renouer avec les belles traditions des centres

                       de La Borne et du St. Amandois, rénover ces

                       traditions pour aboutir à un art moderne original,

                       n'est-ce pas tenant ...?' (l8)

 

      To this end, Henri Malvaux had already proposed to Jean Lerat that he should help him in this task, by establishing a 'Section Céramique' in the school in Bourges. (l9)  Though this position was established on a part-time basis only, the partial loss was bound to affect the productivity of Guillaume's pottery, but Henri Malvaux had already taken steps to recompense him by suggesting the employment of one of his protégés from Mâcon, Jacqueline Bouvet.  Guillaume himself has not left any record of his reaction to such changes, but the then Jacqueline Bouvet has confirmed that it was through the direct intervention of Malvaux that she came to work in La Borne, Malvaux having informed her that he would speak to Guillaume about the possibility of her coming. (20)

      Guillaume had forwarded some money to give her the opportunity of travelling to La Borne, to see the place for herself, with its seven 'grands fours', and a personage such as Paul Beyer:

 

                       '...‚a me permettait, c'était une chance

                       formidable!  J'étais payée pour aller travailler.

                       Alors, je suis arrivée à La Borne et j'ai déjà

                       vu ces deux personnages qui travaillaient...

                       J'étais, si vous voulez, assez tonifiée par ça.

                       Je débutais ...!' (2l)

 

      Irrespective of the content of the discussions which took place between the two men, it is possible to discern in Malvaux's vision for ceramics in the region a mirror-image of that which Guillaume himself had articulated in l94l and l942.  Both André Rozay and Jacqueline Bouvet appeared to be the kind of 'émule' that he had hoped would follow in the wake of Jean Lerat, while the latter's teaching in the new ceramics section of the 'Beaux Arts' held the promise of a continuing pool from which others might follow.

 

      The relationship between Henri Malvaux and the Bouvet family had been established as soon as he had arrived to take up his appointment in Mâcon.  During the First World War, Léon Deshairs, the Directeur de l'Ecole des Arts Décoratifs had served in the trenches with Jean Bouvet, Jacqueline's father:

 

                       '... Malvaux était un élève très doué de ce

                       directeur ... et quand ce directeur a su qu'il

                       était nommé à Mâcon, il lui a dit "Allez toute

                       de suite, voir mon père - Jean Bouvet - parce

                       que, c'est un des mes amis et vous serez très,

                       très bien acceuilli dans cette ville ..." ` (22)

 

 

      The friendship between the two families flourished and, in l939, Jacqueline Bouvet enrolled to study ceramics in the Ecole Municipale des Arts Décoratifs de Mâcon.  The ceramics section in the school was one of those established by Malvaux in his programme of encouraging the crafts - des volontés d'Artisanats (23) - and, in accordance with other aspects of his philosophy and practice, he invited established figures to participate in the courses.  One such was Anne Dangar, the Australian painter turned potter who lived and worked at the Utopian colony of Moly-Sabata, founded in l927 by the painter Albert Gleizes.  During her one-month stay in Mâcon, Anne Dangar organised exercises on Gleizes' aesthetic theories, sessions which were attended by many students of the school, 'elle les faisait faire des exercises des translations sur les rhythmes et sur les couleurs ... c'étaient certaines couleurs qui allait avec d'autres, Moi, j'ai jamais appris ça.' (24)  The rigidity which she then perceived in such teaching was counterbalanced by the personality of the Australian, with whom she formed a close relationship, 'ce qui m'intéressait, c'était le façon dont elle vivait et dont elle vivait son travail.' (25)  A more profound comprehension of this almost mystical integration of art and life was experienced when, during the succeeding years she visited Anne Dangar at her home in Moly-Sabata. (26)

 

Les groupes agricoles et artisanaux de Moly-Sabata

 

      The community at Moly-Sabata, part of Madame Gleizes' property at Serrières, on the Rhone, had been founded by the painter and his wife, Juliette, on l November l927.  A 'reprise de l'Abbaye de Créteil' (27), it was related to this first secular communal venture which he and some friends had established in l906, the year in which they had formed 'L'Association Ernest Renan - Union des étudiants universitaires et des étudiants populaires pour le développement des oeuvres d'éducation laïque.' (28)  Imbued with a knowledge of the history of Utopian Socialism, the Association Ernest Renan was a kind of popular university designed to bring together artists, writers, intellectuals and their natural allies, they believed, the workers.  The Abbaye de Créteil was a phalanstery of artists and writers who viewed the modern urban complex as a bourgeois creation, designed to trap and exploit artists as it had trapped workers in a myriad of evils, the worst of which would have been the corruption engendered by bourgeois approval: (29)

 

                       ' ... Pendant et après la guerre le problème de

                       l'Homme se précise et se fortifie.  Et pour

                       cause.  La peinture devient un moyen et non

                       une fin.  Dans mes articles à partir de ce

                       moment, je fais campagne pour l'Homme, je mets

                       en garde l'artiste contre les spéculations, la

                       publicité, l'esclavage de l'Homme en fin de

                       compte ...' (30)

 

      With Paris dominated by a strong reaction to those ideals of corporate endeavour and revolutionary construction which Gleizes continued to nourish and, in his opinion, the Salon once more in the hands of conservatism, and the avant-garde nurtured by the anarchic and destructive spirit of Dada, Gleizes aversion for the city increased. Despite his considerable prestige as a man and as a painter, both he and his wife withdrew to Serrières in the Ardèche in l923. (3l)  Developing even closer links with those sympathetic to his social ideals, he became more closely involved with the Union Intellectuelle, writing and lecturing extensively in France, Poland, England and Germany. (32)  At Serrières, as well as on the Gleizes property at Cavalaire in the south of France, he continued his own pictorial research, in addition to exploring the implications for art of scientific, philosophic, theological, sociological and historical domains. (33)

 

                       '... En l925 j'avais eu le sentiment, qui devint

                       vite une conviction, que les recherches des

                       peintres cubistes ne pouvaient se dénouer que dans

                       le retour à l'invariant traditionnel.  Le Cubisme

                       était un état d'analyse qui, parti de la donnée

                       conformiste (celle dénaturée par l'usage de la

                       Renaissance: la description d'un milieu séparé

                       de l'homme par les moyens extérieurs y convenant,

                       l'espace, la perspective) devait lui tourner le

                       dos complètement.

 

                       l -         Volume (espace).

                       2 -        Analyse de l'image ou du spectacle, réapparition

                                   du temps, changement, succession.

                       3 -        Subordination au plan de la toile ou du mur

                                   devenant autre chose qu'un support pour l'image

                                   - sujet, le plan c'est l'objet de la peinture:

                                   période empirique.

                       4 -        Période o l'empirisme tend à se muer en

                                   méthode, o le souvenir de l'image s'efface et

                                   s'affirme la domination du plan.

                       5 -        Aux mouvements de translation et de rotation

                                   du plan se joint enfin la couleur: valeur

                                   vivante de la peinture, le rôle de la couleur

                                   au repos (accords) et de la couleur en

                                   mouvement (fugue ou contre-point sur le

                                   caractère de l'arc-en-ciel).

 

                       A la poursuite de l'invariant traditionnel la

                       peinture devait devenir par les conquêtes sur

                       d'autres terrains et dans l'Histoire: à la poursuite

                       de l'invariant traditionnel de l'Homme.  D`où mes

                       essais de précision: Forme et Histoire, Vie et Mort

                       de l'Occident (où il est question d'agriculture)

                       et Homocentrisme (où je condense un peu plus.

                       C'est ainsi que je réabordais le problème religieux

                       près lui avoir été hostile quand je ne comprenais

                       pas ce qu'il signifiait et que la Lettre me

                       dérobait l'Esprit ).  Le Moyen-Age et les époques

                       historiques correspondantes m'apprirent beaucoup.

                       Ayant par moi-même compris certaines vérités je

          l            es retrouvais dans les textes qui les exprimaient

                       sans commentaires et qu'on ne peut comprendre en

                       partant des postulats renaissants ...' (34)

 

      For Gleizes, any thought which did not become embodied in action was dead and deprived of any real significance.  In a century 'profondement déchristianisé, et dans une France qui s'adonnait à une politique hostile au christianisme', (35) he became totally convinced that a mechanised civilisation, given to business speculation and centralisation was no longer viable. (36)  An alternative, a rural society - fidèle à la terre - controlled by a poor elite and consecrated to the intelligent labour of the hand, led him to venture into agriculture and to found 'les groupes agricoles et artisanaux de Moly-Sabata' (37) 'petit centre de désintoxication de notre époque qui a perdu la mesure de l'homme, ... pour aider des artistes de bonne volonté à reprendre les contacts avec les gens de la terre, restés fidèles, eux, à l'ordre des choses.' (38)

 

      From that moment on, Gleizes sought for this 'invariant traditionnel' in an extensive research into many forms of art, separated from the twentieth century in space and time; Arabic, Celtic, engraved menhirs from Gavrin'is in Morbihan, the money of Gaul and the art of the Middle Ages, and despite the complexity, the outcome was, for him, simple:

 

                       '... 'C'est la découverte de l'Homme-en-acte, de

                       l'Homme de métier, image du Créateur ex nihilo.

                       C'est la reprise de possession de l'ouvrier par la

                       connaissance de la technique de son métier -

                       connaissance partant d'un principe commun à

                       toutes les techniques et prenant un caractère

                       propre du fait de la personnalité de chaque

                       materiau ...' (39)

 

      For Gleizes, the 'grand aventure' which was Art (40) was not that concept imposed on the western world since the Renaissance, but one in which Man was perceived not as a partial specialist but as a totality, one in which there was neither 'un 'art mineur' et un 'art majeur; d'ailleurs il n'y a pas l'esthétique: il y a partout et dans tout, l'action humaine.' (4l)  There was not an aesthetic in the sense that it was understood in the twentieth century, the cathedrals, churches, sculpture and painting of the Middle Ages all having been created by artisans, craftsmen belonging to a community passionately in love with the absolute: 'Cette passion marque les productions de ces époques, les productions ne sont que des moyens, pour les individus qui les réalisèrent et pour les sociétés qui les inspirèrent, de s'élever jusqu'à Dieu.' (42)  Reflecting on the concept of the 'Artist', the modern sense of which, he argued, had only appeared in the dictionary of the Academy as recently as l762, he contrasted it with its earlier significance, 'simplement et plus humainement 'l'ouvrier passionné' 'l'homme, qui a appris lentement un métier, qui en connait les secrets et qui, grâce à lui, crée un univers formel à sa taille et selon sa nature; 'avec toute sa passion', c'est-a-dire avec tout son amour.' (43)

 

      To attract young artists away from the perpetual fertilization of the Parisian milieu, to isolate them in the heart of the countryside, six hundred kilometres from exhibitions, concerts, editors, small cliques, talk and gossip, was regarded by many as an outrage, and with bemusement by many of his friends, 'Gleizes est atteint de Mystique agricole disaient quelques-uns de ses amis bienveillants et amusés.' (44)  By autumn of l927 the first artists, artisans and gardeners had arrived, installing themselves in the long, low, irregular house on the banks of the Rhone. The rules of the community specified the details of their lives in commune following the doctrines of Gleizes: the re-discovery of the rhythm of Nature and the microcosmic function of man. (45)  To survive through the practice of agriculture and craft, Gleizes provided land and workshops; 'N'importe quel artisan qui réalise un objet en observant les régles de son métier agit et, par cela même, est une image authentique de Dieu.' (46)  The close proximity of traditional potters, themselves 'fidèles à la terre', at St. Desirat, some seven kilometres away, made the installation of a pottery workshop at Moly-Sabata inevitable: 'Dans l'action du potier, la cause, le potier est inséparable de son acte, le vase, l'effet ... Le potier qui fait un vase agit comme le Créateur a crée le monde.' (47)

 

      It was after the arrival of Anne Dangar 'ma fille spirituelle', (48) on 2l March l930 that, in the estimation of Gleizes, the community was to achieve its greatest dimension.

 

                       '... Elle a tout quitté, en l929, son pays, sa

                       famille, sa situation confortable matériellement

                       et moralement, pour venir vers moi, m'apportant

                       sa confiance et son talent et devenant vite l'âme

                       de Moly-Sabata...' (49)

 

      Of Irish origin, Anne Dangar, the daughter of a wealthy Australian family, taught in the School of Art in Sydney.  A study of the works of Cézanne convinced her that all she had learned from the Impressionists, all that she taught to her students, lacked construction, 'pour moi beaucoup plus profonde, plus traditionnelle - elle me frappe et me retient (dans) un calvaire breton ou une haute croix d'Irlande.' (50)  Saving for two years, she came to Paris to become a student of André Lhote 'pour étudier l'art moderne' de l'école (de) Cézanne.' (5l)  Her study of Cubism led to a particular interest in the paintings of l9l0 - l9l2, 'C'était la période de grands espoirs, d'énorme courage, et dans les tableaux de Picasso et Braque, on voit qu'ils ont eu des premières apparitions de La Lumière et (de) l'Unité, que notre cher Maître (A. Cleizes) a maintenant restaurées à la peinture.' (52)  Deeply affected by Gleizes writings, her own encounter with the artist and her eventual participation in the community at Moly-Sabata is in itself, something which she seemingly perceived as mystical:

 

                       '... Je suis venue en réponse d'une prière

                      désespérée après avoir pensé des tableaux de

                       Gleizes qui m'avaient tellement frappée quand

                       j'étais à Paris.  Quatre jours après cette

                       prière, j'ai reçu un télégramme de Gleizes

                       (Je (ne) l'avais jamais vu, ( je ne lui avais

                       jamais écrit ) me disant de venir.  Le soir même

                       de cette prière mon amie Grace Growley avait lu

                       une lettre que j'avais écrite à M. et Mme Gleizes.

                       Dans cette lettre j'avais dit comme j'étais

                       enseignée par (La peinture et ses Lois) mais oh!

                       je l'ai trouvée si difficile à comprendre et

                       j'ai demandé d'aller prendre des leçons de Gleizes

                       avant de retourner à Sydney.   En entendant ma

                       lettre M. Gleizes a dit: ( Mais elle est déjà ici.

                       La distance ne compte pas.  ( Comment pouvais-je

                       hésiter en recevant ce télégramme?  Deux heures

                       plus tard j'ai répondu que je viendrai, mais

                       j'avais une situation très importante (lre.

                       assistante professeur à l'Ecole d'Art de Sydney)

                       et un cours privé de vingt-trois élèves le mercredi.

                       J'avais besoin de donner avis le même après-midi à

                       tout le monde, mais j'ai promis d'attendre trois

                       mois pour (donner) à l'école (le temps) de trouver

                       un jeune professeur, et (de) mettre le 2 assistant

                       au courant...' (53)

 

      Totally convinced of the validity of the social and aesthetic ideals of Gleizes, she worked with and for the traditional potters of St. Désirat and the peasants of the neighbourhood, making utilitarian pottery (Fig. l99, large plates with decorations inspired by the paintings of her mentor (Fig. 200), as well as figurines and santons which she taught the children of the villages, Serrières and Sablons, to make, 'l'école pour les enfants du village a montré combien le sens artistique est une chose répandue et combien il pourrait étre utilisé pour donner à chaque existence la valeur et le luxe auxquels elle a droit.' (54)  Resistant to exhibiting, it was with great reluctance that the community did eventually permit a selection of its work to go on display in the Petit Palais, in l938:

 

                       '... des céramiques et des tissus sortis des

                       ateliers de Moly-Sabata ... ce ne sont pas

                       des fantaisies, mais de nobles ouvrages, en

                       d'honnêtes matières, des formes traditionnelles,

                       des décors heureusement exempts de toute

                       vulgarité imitative.  Et ce qui doit nous

                       réjouir au plus haut point, c'est que les

                       auteurs de ces ouvrages, dont la plupart

                       sont d'Anne Dangar, ne voulaient pas que ceux-

                       ci fussent montrés à Paris ...' (55)

 

      For Anne Dangar, acceptance by the local potters, who asked her to make a pot to place on the grave of a dead colleague, was more important than the acclaim achieved in the capital's galleries, 'Je suis heureuse de savoir que ces potiers estiment mon travail'. (56)  Disdaining the art school courses and the students who sought instant success, 'les écoles de poterie sont les mensonges d'une époque qui a perdu toute la verité' (57), she chose to make pottery which was 'très rustiques, - aussi près de la terre que possible.' (58)  Both her temporal and spiritual existence were inextricably interrelated with her art, 'Oh mais c'est bon de travailler dans le silence dans le nom du Seigneur!  Je (ne) fais que des petits pots en terre, mais c'est un si grand honneur de travailler la terre - de donner naissance à ces enfants faits avec amour' (59) 'Je fais mes pots dans mon coeur avant de les faire naître ... Souvent ils sont très imparfaits, car je suis désireuse (de) leur donner la vie que je néglige leur beauté extérieure'. (60)  'C'était bon d'être seule dans la nuit à côté de ce petit feu qui allait terminer mon travail.' (6l)  For her pupils, the seven to twelve year old children of the villages, whose work was likewise to appear in the Petit Palais, her concern was the same, 'comment puis-je figer la passion créatrice de mes élèves quand je crois que c'est la chose Divine en eux qui les fait différent des animaux et de la machine.' (62)

 

      In l938, the experiment at Moly-Sabata seemed to have affirmed Gleizes' decision:

 

                       '... C'est pour le peuple, les paysans de leur

                       entourage qu'ils entendent travailler.  Et les

                       paysans ... ravis de voir renaître les vieux

                       ateliers régionaux, ne les laisseront plus mourir.

                       Moly-Sabata n'est pas un refuge, mais un foyer

                       vivant, un centre très actif, un rayonnement: les

                       enfants des villages voisins viennent s'y amuser à

                       dessiner et à chanter, et leur parents ne se

                       refusent pas davantage à participer aux fêtes

                       locales dont les artistes revenus à la terre ont su

                       ressusciter la tradition ...' (63)

 

      For Jacqueline Bouvet, the philosophy formed in her association with Anne Dangar, and which she would eventually bring to La Borne was inevitably different to those of Jean Lerat and André Rozay, even to that of François Guillaume himself.  Above all, it had been the rapport which the Australian had between her work, the things she made and its total integration in her life which made the greatest impression. (64)  Anne Dangar's utilitarian pottery, 'pour la vie courante, pour la quotidienne' (65) had not resulted from a mere replication of the forms of her artisan potter neighbours, but had emanated from a desire to assimilate the 'sense' of tradition that had led to their development.  In an age when such traditional utilitarian forms were being replaced by those of industry, the pottery made at Moly-Sabata 'qui était utilitaire et qui était beau' was 'très contemporaine' (66), made to place 'l'homme en relation dans sa vie quotidienne avec un objet qui était d'une pensée très saine.' (67)  From her first encounter with Anne Dangar in l940, increasing contacts with her, and a deepening understanding of all that she had assimilated from Gleizes' philosophy, helped shape the resolve of the young potter who was soon to contribute to the Guillaume enterprise in La Borne:

 

                       '... elle m'a beaucoup influencée, non dans ce

                       qu'elle faisait mais dans cet état de relations

                       ... c'est ça qui était important, et moi, j'ai

                       commencé par avoir le désir, comme elle, de

                       m'installer à la campagne et de rassembler les

                       gens pour dire des choses à l'intérieur des

                       matériaux, et si nous, on sait les faire sortir,

                       on va vous parler de tas de choses, on aura des

                       rencontres ...' (68)

 

      An encounter with Gleizes himself also assisted her comprehension of the theories he had enunciated in his writings, following his search for the universals underpinning the art of diverse cultures, and particularly that of the art of the Middle Ages; an art whose organisation had its roots in the organisation of its society, an art which transmitted an energy and to which one was oblidged to react, 'on n'a pas seulement à regarder la sculpture seulement dans ses apparences, mais il y avait aussi cette espèce de force, de lecture.' (69)  In addition, the more recent history of French ceramics, stimulated by the revelation of the Japanese ceramics at the Exposition Universelle of l878, had had its legatees in such figures as Lenoble, Decoeur, Serré, Beyer, 'qui ont travaillé la terre en relation avec, non pas la peinture, mais l'Art Décoratif - la pièce unique, c'est à dire, qu'à cette époque là, il n'était pas question d'artisanat, non, pas du tout, la terre faisait partie de l'art décoratif ... Cette époque de l'Art Décoratif me paraît très importante ... Et nous, si vous voulez, on s'est situé à ce niveau là - en quarante ...' (70)

 

 

July l943 - the arrival in La Borne of Jacqueline Bouvet

 

      Jacqueline Bouvet paid a short visit to the village in June of l943 and, by the end of the month François Guillaume was in written contact, to establish the terms of the proposed collaboration on a more formal level.  Informing her that he had already made arrangements to rent a workshop where she would work with Jean Lerat and André Rozay, he suggested that she might arrive as soon as was convenient, 'le 1.er. juillet serait une bonne date.' (7l)  Initially hired for a three-month trial period, 'qui vous permettra de vous rendre compte des possibilités d'un métier en partie nouveau pour vous, cependant de mon côté j'aurais pu me prendre compte des possibilités d'une collaboration', (72) he outlined a series of themes for which, without inhibiting her own imaginative faculties, she could, in the interim, develop some ideas:

 

                        '... 1.e. Articles d'utilité courante: coquetiers,

                       services à thé ( verseuses, sucriers, crémiers,

                       tasses et soucoupes ), services à déjeuners ( trois

                       dimensions de pots, tasses et soucoupes à

                       déjeuners ), pots à confiture, saladiers, soupières,

                       assiettes plates, creuses et dessert, dessous de

                       plats, dessous de carafes, etc ...

 

                       2.e. - objets de décoration: vases, coupes, pots à

                       tabac, petites sculptures décoratives utilisant

                       simplement des éléments tournés

 

                       3.e. - objets construits d'éléments tournés et

                       reguliers tels que calvaires (à petite échelle

                       pour faire l'expérience d'objets plus importants),

                       objets de table faits d'élements tournés juxtaposés,

                       jardinières, chandeliers, plats à hors d'oeuvre,

                       etc ...' (73)

 

      In addition, it is clear that Guillaume's established practice of collaborating in the design process was to be continued in this instance:

 

                       '... Quand vous aurez préparé une série de dessins

                       sur les thèmes ci-dessus nous examinerons ensemble

                       ce que vous avez fait et nous verrons ce qu'il y

                       aura lieu d'éxécuter ou de modifier ou de laisser ...' (74)

 

      Finally, he concludes by explaining a commercial factor which, when implemented, must inevitably influence the character of the work produced by Jacqueline Bouvet:

 

                       '... Il conviendrait de ne pas trop pousser dans

                       le sens de l'objet simple car la cuisson d'un

                       tel objet me coûte aussi cher que celle d'une

                       pièce sur laquelle on a passé de nombreuses

                       heures de travail, c'est à dire que dans les

                       conditions actuelles le prix de revient de

                       l'objet simple est presque prohibitif ...' (75)

 

      The letter is significant from a number of perspectives.  Firstly, it is the only document written by François Guillaume which gives any indication of the nature of the work he wished to have made in his pottery.  Secondly, since categories 2 and 3 of his themes correspond precisely to the kinds of ware already made by Lerat and Rozay, it is obvious that he hoped that Jacqueline Bouvet could employ her pottery-making skills to produce the kinds of articles enumerated in category l, namely, utilitarian ware.  Thirdly, as his notes for his catalogue of the l935 exhibition had made clear, he was firmly convinced that it had been by resorting to the use of moulds that had led to a degeneration of the decorative ware of the ancient potters of La Borne, thus his emphasis in each category, and particularly for the types of ware in category 3, is on the use of thrown forms and elements.  In her reply of l July, Jacqueline Bouvet responded:

 

                       '... J'ai bien reçu votre lettre de 26 Juin.  Je

                       suis d'accord avec vous pour les conditions de

                       travail.  Je ferai tout ce qui me sera possible

                       pour que mon travail répondre à ce que vous

                       désirez ...' (76)

 

     In his letter of 26 June, Guillaume had indicated some problems in providing appropriate lodgings and meals, but through Jean Lerat's good offices, these were all resolved by Wednesday 2l July l943 when she arrived in La Borne where, after having accommodation in the home of a school-master for a short period, she finally settled in that of Valentine Chameron. (77)

 

The New Workshop in La Borne, l943

 

      Before he had interested himself in the Foucher-Chavet property the previous year, Guillaume had already made overtures to Madame Camille Talbot-Senée with a view to leasing her then inactive pottery.  Following the death of Gabriel Talbot in l932, the property had continued to function for a short period but its fortunes had been severely shaken by the withdrawal of their major wholesaler, Phillipon et Bruchet of Limoges.  Production ceased when the only son of the family, Henri Talbot, decided to leave La Borne and the traditional industry, to eventually establish himself as a baker in Gommonvilliers (Seine et Oise) before being mobilised to serve in World War II.  Shortly after embarking on his collaboration with Jean Lerat, Camille Talbot had offered to lease the whole business to Guillaume at a price of 3,500 francs per year. (78)

 

 

                       '... Si mon fils n'était pas prisonnier, je suis

                       persuadé qu'il mettrait sa boulangerie en gérance

                       pour s'occuper de la poterie qui est intéressante

                       en ce moment.  Malheureusement, je ne puis compter

                       sur lui et je louerais volontiers cette fabrique ...' (79)

 

      In l94l the facilities available in the Talbot-Senée property were those more appropriate to a fully organised traditional pottery, rather than the relatively small production unit then being operated by Guillaume:

 

                       1          `...  La moitié du grand four, c'est à dire

                                   le droit de cuire une fournée sur deux.

                       2.         La quart du petit four.  C'est à dire le

                                   droit ce cuire une fournée sur quatre.

                       3.         l atelier situé près de ceux de M. Bedu

                                   avec une roue électrique, une roue à bâton

                                   et aussi un tour à pied.

                       4.         l atelier avec 2 roues à bâton.

                       5.         l atelier sechoir à côté du grand four avec

                                   la bouche du four.

                       6.         l pièce logeant pots et ustensils pour

                                   enfourner.

                       7.         l pièce logeant les cadres pour expeditions.

                       8.         l terrain renfermé “Le Parçon" pour déposer

                                   la marchandise.

                       9.         l terrain pour mettre la réserve de bois et de

                                   bourrées ...' (80)

 

      In late l942, it had been the second atelier, No. 4 above, which had been leased by the Chambre des Métiers at Orléans, and in which they had constructed the small kiln for Paul Beyer.

 

      Negociations commenced once more in the second quarter of l943, by which time Henri Talbot had returned from captivity to resume his business in Gommonvilliers.  By 2 August agreement was reached and an official deed, signed by Camille Talbot and her five children and the spouses of her four daughters, legalised the leasing to François Guillaume of:

 

                        '... un atelier de poterie situé à La Borne d'en

                        Bas commune d'Henrichemont, attenant à une hanger

                       à M. Armand Bedu,

                                   Grenier au dessus

                                   et le matériel ci-après

                                   deux roues à bâtons ...'

 

Registered at Aubigny-sur-Nere on l6 August l943, the agreement entitled Guillaume to lease the property from 24 June l943, for three consecutive periods, each of three years. (8l)  Nine conditions were attached, mostly covering payment of taxes, insurance etc. but two required immediate attention.  Other than the two wheels indicated in the deed, the atelier, when finally occupied, contained nothing else and, in fact, had deteriorated materially since last used. (82)  Conditions l and 3 oblidged Guillaume to lease the building as it stood and to undertake all repairs necessary, then or in the future. (83)  By August, when finally occupied, Jean Lerat, writing of the worsening weather, requests Guillaume to exercise all possible haste in obtaining new window panes, since the local menuisier, Joulin-Foucher, had refused to install the frames if glass was not available, 'pas des vitres, pas de menuiserie.' (84)

 

                       '... C'est bien ennuyeux, car le temps s'est

                       rafraichi considérablement et le vent souffle

                       en plein la fenêtre, nous sommes tous gelés ...' (85)

 

      This was soon effected, as were other necessities such as the installation of a stove and chimney and a 'cloison', a fence, to isolate the property and protect it from the elements. (86)

 

The production of Jean Lerat: March - December l943

 

 

      In the period immediately preceeding Jacqueline Bouvet's arrival, Jean Lerat's pattern of productivity had changed from that of the previous months, now giving more time to his purely sculptural conceptions.  Though producing twenty-nine vases and four coupes, the greater part of his time was spent on the small figurative group 'Grande Mère racontant le Chat Botté' (Fig. 20l) and the large, seventy-five centimetres high, figure of St. Martin. (Fig. 202)  Though in this instance the finely carved base appears to have been thrown on the wheel, the figure itself is made using Lerat's conventional sculpture techniques, modified to conform to ceramic needs.  By contrast, the remainder of the pieces, ten in all, are a reiteration of wheel thrown figures, the potential of which he had been exploring the previous year.In the 'Couple d'amoureux' (fiche l60) and the two 'Danseuses' (fiche l6l) the female figures have firstly been made on the wheel, before any modification by additional modelling has taken place. (Fig. 203)  The same can be shown to have occurred for the 'Tricoteuse' (fiche l63) and the 'Peau d'Ane' (fiche l65), while some doubt may have to be expressed for the main body of the Virgin in fiche l64.  The three 'Bouteilles' of fiche l72 display a further reliance on this technique, the 'Cantinière' and the Noâ figures relying almost exclusively on the purity of the thrown shape, requiring only minimal additions to complete the figure, as opposed to the vigneron with his loaded panier, where marked modification of the original bottle form has been required. (Fig. 204)  Following a period of decreased production, between the cuisson of 5 juillet and that of 8 septembre, and in which only one piece, the Woman and Child of fiche l78, (Fig. 205) appears to have carried the technique towards a much greater simplification of form, his output for the rest of the year is almost equally divided between vases and coupes and sixteen sculptures, all but one, a slab-built calvaire (fiche l80) deriving from basic shapes made on the wheel.  Two of these, another 'Tricoteuse' and a 'Virgin and Child' (Fig. 206) are based on earlier models.  As fiche l86 shows, it is to this latter theme that he returns once more in three versions in which the thrown form is almost lost in the context of additional modificaion and modelling. (Fig. 207)  This lack of resolution between the retention of the purity of the initial form and its masking through modelling is less evident in the nine decorative 'bouteilles' of fiche l84. (Fig. 208)  Three in particular, more restrained in decoration, are transformed from the basic thrown form in such a way that they begin to approximate more closely to the kind of oil and vinegar bottles produced almost a century before by Marie Talbot.

 

 

The Guillaume Atelier:

 

      Following her arrival in La Borne, Jacqueline Bouvet joined Jean Lerat and André Rozay in Bedu's, before moving to Guillaume's newly acquired atelier in August.  By l8 September a number of pieces, made by all three, were included in a firing recorded in the Guillaume ledger.  Handed over to him on l5 October, these wares clearly show the diversity that was beginning to be introduced into the venture.

      From both the ledger and the fiches, the work of André Rozay may be divided into two categories, four sculptures and an equal number of thrown pieces, which included two vases, a plate and a pichet. (Fig. 209)  Since Rozay did not learn to throw on the potter's wheel until much later, it is likely that these were made by either Lerat or one of Bedu's employees before he decorated them.  The remainder are modelled, and though a number of these are recorded in the fiches, only five are entered in the ledger - 'Sabotier', 'Canards', 'Chevaux' and two untitled subjects. (87)  These entries are accompanied by selling prices, except for the small horses which are designated as models, presumably trials for discussion with Guillaume prior to embarking on full-size sculptures.  It is unlikely that these were realised since, sometime in November, Guillaume told André Rozay that he wished to terminate the collaboration. (88)  There is nothing on record to indicate Guillaume's reasons for this action, but as an avowed communist, Rozay, without either identity document or ration cards, and in hiding from the occupation forces, 'La présence d'un 'réfractaire' n'était pas pour tranquiliser certains Bornois.' (89)  It is to this perception that Rozay attributes his departure from the Guillaume operation, though he remained in La Borne, residing with Lerat in the house that the latter had rented from Camille Talbot-Senée, and given employment by Alphonse Talbot-Leclerc, with whom he was to remain, acquiring all the skills of the traditional bornois poter, (90) while simultaneously and progressively using these to further exploit the kinds of creative possibilities that had taken root in Guillaume's workshop.

 

 

The production of Jacqueline Bouvet: l943

 

      Four carefully prepared designs, seemingly those prepared at Guillaume's request in his letter of 26 June, and eight sheets of sketches, are all that remain as visual evidence of the work produced by Jacqueline Bouvet during her first weeks at La Borne.  Some additional information is furnished by Guillaume's ledger, but since it is patently a sales record, the items noted only account for part of her production.

 

      The prepared designs, all for 'Surtouts de Table' are patently for formal presentation, their lettering, rendering of form and layout manifesting a developed sense of design. (Fig. 2l0)  In three instances they are composed of wide dishes which form a plinth or cuvette for decorative centrepieces based on either animal or human forms, two of each.  However, an alternative classification is possible, since in each category, the figure or the animal is either modelled or composed of thrown components.  Whether a continuation of some of her earlier ideas, or resulting from influences received during her preliminary visit to La Borne, 'La Bergère' (Fig. 2ll) already reveals some kinship with the traditional decorative ware of the village.  The 'Coqs', (Fig. 2l2) a composition of thrown cones, shows a disposition to utilize the same technique in modern vein.

 

      Two other undated sheets of sketch designs accompany these more finished ones.  Each theme developed, though composed of a number of independent thrown or modelled forms, is clearly conceived as a sculptural grouping (Fig. 2l3) and, together with the 'surtouts de table', illustrate the decorative approach taken by Jacqueline Bouvet before her employment by François Guillaume.  As had been stated in his letter of 26 June, discussion of such ideas would have taken place before she commenced working in La Borne, and in his ledger entry for the 'cuisson du l8 Septembre', twenty-two of her pieces are recorded as having been sold.  These include vases, tobacco jars, hors d'oeuvres sets, beer services, oil-bottles, pichets, coupes, decorated bottles and other forms. (9l)  Forms such as these can be found in the eight sheets of sketches which, unlike Jean Lerat's fiches, are not numbered and bear only 'l943' or 'l944' as an indication of their period of production, thus, whether these represent finished forms or projected ideas is unclear.  On examination, most can be classified as belonging to 'themes' No. 2 and No. 3 of Guillaume's June letter, the only exception being the 'Services à Hors d'oeuvre: 'coquetiers' which he had included in theme No. l, namely, 'articles d'utilité courante.' (92)  Though having a precise utilitarian purpose, each is primarily conceived as an object in which its decorative values supersede its functional intent.  Small 'paniers - pique fleurs', from both l943 and l944, and 'cloches à fromages' are simple thrown forms ornamented with either pierced or applied decoration, or modelled animal or figurative forms. (Fig. 2l4)

 

      The two types of wares which display a close kinship with those of the traditional decorative ware of the village are the 'pots à tabac' and the 'bouteilles'.  The former, executed in l943 and l944, are mostly bowls, with their fitted lids decorated with modelled animal or figurative forms. (Fig. 2l5)  Lacking the irony of Marie Talbot's bottles, these 'bonnes femmes' of Jacqueline Bouvet are wide-bottomed, with slender bodies transformed into demure young ladies by the addition of limbs, heads as stoppers and a range of applied and impressed motifs. This propensity for decoration is once again evident in four ideas for 'crèches', all executed in l943.  One only is comprised of a group of single figures, the others either featuring a stylised Virgin and Child in a simple bower or, accompanied by a Saint Joseph, placed in the central concave compartment of a triptych, flanked by niches containing the shepherds and the Magi.  This structure, technically challenging, is, unlike the similar theme treated by Jean Lerat, being much more elaborate in its use of ornamentation and, unhindered by any external influences, has provided the liberty which has permitted her to exploit more easily her own creative instincts. (Fig. 2l6)

 

      The apparent conflict between Guillaume's three themes, Jacqueline Bouvet's acceptance of them as indicated in her written response, and the almost total neglect of theme No. l: 'articles d'utilité courante' is explained by the incapacity of the grands fours to take such wares:

 

                       '... Moi, je n'ai pas pu faire de l'utilitaire

                       puisque d'abord les grands fours ... il n'était

                       pas possible ... le monsieur qui nous a payé, a

                       payé pour cuire une tasse plus cher que la tasse

                       elle-même ... Nous?  On a été entrainé a faire des

                       objets.  On a été entrainé au lieu de faire une

                       tasse, on a fait un petit pot couvert sur lequel

                       on a quelque chose, un décor ou un personnage,

                       pour que quand les gens achetent cette forme, il

                       y ait une petite histoire qui commence, et que eux

                       pouvaient poursuivre ...' (93)

 

      Living in the home of Valentine Chameron, Jacqueline Bouvet was in immediate contact with the Talbot tradition, and on her way to 'Les Grandes Poteries' every day she passed the home and atelier of Alphonse Talbot, one of the few remaining master-potters in the village:

 

                       '... Le petit chemin que j'empruntais pour aller

                       les rencontrer dans leurs lieux de travail reste

                       dans mon souvenir sans commencement ni fin, juste

                       un passage, l'instant d'un présent où on perçoit

                       confusément que quelque chose peut changer, que le

                       mot 'avant' prend un sens dans le va-et-vient des

                       journées.  Je me sentais à la lisière d'autres

                       moments et je ne doutais pas que ceux que j'avais

                       connus m'aideraient à les construire ...' (94)

 

      Despite the war, life in La Borne and in its immediate environs was made easier by the availability of fresh foodstuffs obtainable from the small vegetable gardens, which most residents cultivated, and from the neighbouring farms, all of which augmented the rations, for which one was oblidged to walk or cycle the four kilometres to Henrichemont, to obtain in the restaurant.  Though arduous, the generosity of her neighbours made life in the village much easier but, for a young woman, accustomed to city-life, its structure offered new challenges:

 

                       '... Je ne fixais aucune durée à mon séjour; je

                       me trouvais bien dans ce lieu et pourtant je me

                       considérais comme étrangère à cette communauté, à

                       ce lieu si fortement organisé où tous les gens

                       étaient plus ou moins cousins, ayant entre eux

                       beaucoup d'histoires que je ne connaissais pas

                       vraiment.  J'étais une étrangère attentive et

                       curieuse.  L'accueil des gens fut d'abord réservé.

                       Cela me plaisait, je devais faire les premières

                       démarches ...' (95)

 

      The opportunity to make such contacts and to grasp a sense of the meaning of life in such a rigourously organised community was the necessary obligation to produce work which would be available for specific firings of the 'grands fours' to which Armand Bedu had access.

 

                       '... J'étais tout à la fois au plaisir, à la

                       difficulté, à l'angoisse même du travail â faire.

                       Mon travail, ma vie s'organisaient parallèlement

                       à la présence forte et régulière des artisans.

                       Ils me communiquaient l'exigence d'un rythme à

                       maintenir et leur savoir-faire ...' (96)

 

      Such rhythm was also to be observed in the coming and going of horse-drawn carts which either brought the clay from the clay-pits, or transported the finished ware to the station at Henrichemont; in the activity of the wood-cutter who 'defaisait et refaisait les tas en une avancée régulière.  Au rythme de coups secs et précis, il éclatait en un ou plusieurs morceaux.' (97)  In the many workshops into which she was able to penetrate 'aussi discrètement que possible,' (98) a similar rhythm prevailed:

 

                       '... Je suivais avec plaisir, gourmandise même,

                       les gestes répétés, precis, jamais gratuits ni

                       précipités, très près du service à rendre avec

                       lesquels le potier tournait les grands saloirs

                       ou les plus petits pièces. ...  Tout le corps

                       accompagnait à son lancement, la tête se

                       balançait, accompagnait la forme dans sa montée,

                       la progression se faisait en plusieurs temps comme

                       une respiration à reprendre.  La pièce gardait dans

                       son profil l'imtimité de ses élans rythmés ...' (99)

 

      In similar vein to her reaction to Anne Dangar and her work, Jacqueline Bouvet was more interested in the pattern of existence which brought the traditional forms to life rather than in a desire to be influenced by the forms themselves.  Though admiring the manner in which they satisfied the purposes for which they had been made, she realised that her own work did not have to respond to the same demand as that of the village artisans, 'il s'organisait différemment.  Eux-mêmes posaient sans agressivité mais souvent avec une pointe d'ironie, la question de son serieux.' (l00)