Art eviction in plein air

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On location: Peter Woods painting undisturbed at the St Paul hospital, Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. Picture: Supplied

Artists, especially when spotted at their easels in the open air, can be seen as adding a bit of interest to the landscape.

But that feeling is not universal, Bittern artist Peter Woods has found out, especially in the home of what many regard as “must make” destination for artists – southern France.

While working at his easel outside the picturescue village of Lourmarin, Woods was confronted by a woman who drove up in a car and “started to talk vigorously and gesticulate”.

It was not until after hearing the word ‘’out” that he realised that he was being kicked off her land.

“I was only two metres off the path, but I was in the field of someone not fond of artists,” Woods recalls when describing the creation of his painting of the village and its vineyard foreground.

“Apologetic but amused”, he moved back onto the path, but within five minutes was confronted by the woman’s daughter on a quad bike, which she rode “furiously in circles for a while to express her Gallic displeasure”.

The encounter took place when Woods and his wife Jeanette spent five weeks last year in Lourmarin and Saint-Remy-de-Provence.

The couple toured the area by car and shopped at markets and savoured being in “the steps of Vincent van Gogh” who had spent a “productive but difficult year” in Saint-Remy towards the end of his life.

The results of Woods’s efforts have been combined with other works depicting scenes from Woolleys Beach Reserve, Jack’s Beach, Main Ridge, Merricks, Flinders and Red Hill in his “Peninsula to Provence” exhibition at the gallery at The Red Hill Bakery and Cafe, Balnarring.

Woods sees his Western Port scenes “as part of my advocacy for the bay in light of the current battles with AGL” which wants to use Crib Point as a base to import liquefied natural gas.  

“Peninsula to Provence”, an art exhibition by Peter Woods, is at the at the gallery at The Red Hill Bakery and Cafe, 3000 Frankston-Flinders Road, Balnarring, until 14 February. 

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 5 February 2019

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