Saturday, 9 September 2017

Peyraud en Ardèche.

Hans van Eck
(b. Haarlem 07-04-1941)
Dutch contemporary artist and printmaker 

I do not think Johannes Cornelis ("Hans") van Eck eventually saw a career in linocut printmaking: I only know of two examples of his printmaking endeavors. The signature, and monogram V.E., gave me some headache to solve, but this print, showing rooftops in Peyraud en Ardêche and dated 1969 drew my immediate attention, since I drove by Peyraud only last week and saw the same rooftops half a century later on our way home from a short visit to my sister in law who happens to live in this remote but very beautiful region of France. 

The incredible possibilities of the Internet providing pictures and context to create a posting for sharing and enjoyment.

The small community of Peyraud is situated between two important bridges spanning river Rhône giving acces to the North-Ardêche: at Serrieres and at Andance, some 100 Km. south of Lyon. 

They both give acces to the North Ardêche a scarcely populated district: 1000 meter high hills sloping to the east from the Massif Central towards the Rhône valley with a harsh climate: hot summers and long cold winters.

Once, from medieval times, every plot on the south-facing slopes and hills from the "Massif Central" which was blessed with a well was worked on, on terraces. The water flowing from the many wells is said to have been transported over thousands of years from the Alps in the East through geological layers crossing deep underneath river Rhône.

My sister in law's property is since ages named "Micoulaux" (Fr. mille +  couler - a thousand streams) and indeed the water is pouring from the ground in several places at alt. 900, where morning coffee can be enjoyed like this. 

Today the area is less and less populated, communities, villages and cities in decline, although the southern part, with river Ardêche and it's spectacular "Gorges de l'Ardêche" (the Grand Canyon Light experience) are an immensely popular holliday destination: cano, raft and naturist. 

The once so important production terraces, constructed and claimed by centuries of self-supporting farmers and communities are gradually reclaimed by nature as inhabitants seek work elsewhere and are eventually used for modern forestry growing Douglas firs. 

The region's products are pure as they can be, it's markets as markets should be, it's views spectacular, the silence deafening and it's nights, lit by the Milky Way, so stunning one gets out of bed to enjoy in awe and wonder in the middle of the night. 

This is the only other example by Hans van Eck that I happened to know from my archive: maybe its location (France ?) will be revealed one day. 


All pictures to illustrate this posting are borrowed freely from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.       

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