Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Death In The Afternoon

Last weekend, Neil & I drove out to explore the Camargues region, west of Marseilles. It was my introduction to the French 'corrida' so we hit the bull trail via the historic cities of Arles & Nimes. Our guide was Jeff Pledge-affcionado of 'taurine culture' & Ernest Hemingway lookalike.
Here's Jeff in action-

In Arles we ate lunch at the famous 'Night Café' that Van Gogh painted (opposite the 'Nord Pinus' hotel!). Arles & Nimes each have a colossal roman arena still used to stage corrida. Mighty impressive edifices. Late afternoon Jeff took us to see a 'course camarguaise' in Sommieres. The bulls are harangued by 'razateurs'- men dressed in white who nimbly try to retrieve ribbons tied around the bulls horns. That night we stayed in salty seaside 'resort'-Grau de roi & the next day headed over to Nimes via mediaval fortress town Aigues-Mortes which means 'dead water'.

Leaving Nimes across the flat marshlands we rolled into Istres. It's another small provincial town but this weekend it was buzzing with festivities to celebrate the corrida. It was staged in a large modern stadium & we saw three toreros confront 2 bulls each. The animals were magnificent but it's not easy to justify what amounts to torture & ritual slaughter. However the whole spectacle is intriguing & visually exciting. I'm not sure how relevant it is to society today & of course there is intense opposition to bull-fights still being staged. But for the populace of the region it's still valued as an entertaining afternoon for the whole family, from very young children to grand-parents. Maybe DVDs & football matches just don't do it for them?!

The stadium in Sommieres is perfect-just the right size with an oval ring & shaded by trees all the way around.


Heidi Smith said...

Thanks for the comments, you asked me about my techniques regarding the charcoal, I use a general's charcoal pencil 4b soft, I sharpen it to a needle like point, I do not use any masking techniques, I just take my time, and I'm very careful. I love the bull fighting sketches, especially the centerfold one in the sketchbook, the compostion of the bulls are fabulous!! Wonderful work!!

Matthew Cruickshank said...

Man, I'm jealous. Looks like you have magnificient weather to boot judging by the pictures.

I'd be really interested in the atmosphere of a bull fight certainly, and the energy of the spectacle, but the concept doesn't sit in my stomach well.

Send my regards to Neil!

Adrian Thatcher. said...

great stuff Matt. keep'er comin' I really like the post a little further down with the birds.....nice!

Boris Hiestand said...

great post- why haven't I booked the flight yet?

Richard Mitchelson said...

top pic is loads of fun. Would be great to see it put into a comic! ROSS and JONES journey to the centre of the bull ring... nice.

rose-a-petits-pois said...

The last drawing is really great!

But I don't like corrida... it's horrible for the poor little bulls...

Adam Rogers said...

The bull ring sketch is terrific.
Great composition and the linework - so simple but it's all there.
This should be the cover art for a jazz album.

Inspirational as usual.

Matt Jones said...

H-thnks for the reply-interesting technique
M-I'm living the Endless Summer!
B-u still in Spain?
R-I'll see what i can do. . .
G-Oui, c'est ne pas juste-
J-Thanks a lot man-jazz & bulls huh? Check out Limbolo's blog -

Adam Rogers said...

Limbolo: niiiiice.
Thanks for the tip.