Was Picasso Happy?
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Dear Reader,

It has often been suggested that Picasso was at his happiest when he was making his ceramics.

Large clay deposits in the South of France made the area of Vallauris an attractive place for artisans and potters to reside in the early part of the 20th century. While Picasso's playful owl jugs and gravy boats in the shape of doves celebrated the Mediterranean ideas of 'Joie de Vivre', his works from that period also evoke a sense of the timeless conflicts between mortals and immortals, life and death. This idea is also reflected in the firing techniques of pottery itself; the inferno at the belly of the kiln versus the fragile raw clay, fire versus earth and life versus death.

Picasso's relationships with fellow potters based in Vallauris at the Madoura ceramics workshop blossomed, collaborating with ceramicists such as Julio Gonzales and Robert Picault. This was the first time he had forged artistic relationships like this since his intimate friendship (and part rivalry) with Georges Braques during the pioneering years of Cubism.

Robert Picault is one of my favourite ceramicists. The rustic simplicity of Picault's work gets me excited every time, I love inspecting the layers of craftsmanship that have gone into each piece. Often he used white terracotta clay with a pink or white tin glaze, layered with copper oxide patterns. The copper oxide against the pink glaze was, I'm sure, an inspiration to the Grand Dame of pottery Lucie Rie, when she herself chose this glaze and copper oxide combination in the 1970's. The pinks and greens that both these artists chose somehow manage to clash, yet harmonize, at the same time. Of course, every piece tells a different story, and I'm always on the lookout for my next Picault.

I often wonder if these collaborations made Picasso feel his happiest, and increased his energy and hunger to create. Like a Flea on the wall, I sometimes picture both artists enjoying a few glasses of red wine in the Mediterranean sun against a chorus of crickets in the background. When I hold one of Picault's plates up to the light, I can picture him flicking his horsehair brush dipped in oxide onto the glaze, or scraping patterns into the slip - before sloping off for a round of petanque and a smoke with Picasso.

Needless to say, Picasso was incredibly prolific over those 20 years in Vallauris - executing an astonishing few thousand works.

He must have been happy.

With Love,

Florence x

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A MUST VISIT: ISLE SUR LA SORGUE, AVIGNON, FRANCE

Trawling through markets has never been more exciting than Isle sur la Sorgue in Avignon, France.

A charming Provencal town 15 miles southeast of Avignon, the numerous canals and branches of the Sorgue have led to the town being nicknamed the "Venice of the Comtat."

There, you will find many antique and second-hand goods dealers. Each weekend, the market boasts about 300 stalls, with more than 500 during the Antique Fairs at Easter and on August 15th, which attracts a load of tourists.

Birthplace of the poet Rene Char, the town is also home to many galleries and exhibitions. A must-visit!

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH REMEMBERS DAME LUCIE RIE

Oh, how I love that Sir David appreciates the mineral compounds that can be used for glazing techniques.

In this article, where he looks back at the late great Dame Lucie Rie, you can clearly understand how his love of archaeology and geology must have increased his love and appreciation for pottery, which he shared with his brother Richard - who incidentally also owned a huge pottery collection of Picasso's work.

THE EARTHSHOT PRIZE 2021: REPAIRING OUR PLANET

It would be impossible to mention Sir David Attenborough without appreciating the extraordinary Earth Shot Prize that was organized alongside the Duke of Cambridge, which took place in London a few weeks ago.

I'd like to give a particular big congratulations to our wonderful neighbours and friends at the Coral Vita team in Grand Bahama. If you are unfamiliar with their work, please check out their website. Coral Vita is on an incredible mission to protect threatened ecosystems; they rebuild coral reefs using Micro-Fragmenting, which is achieved by growing and replanting more resilient corals.

Good luck at Cop26 team ❤️

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FREEDOM FROM TORTURE

I'm so proud to be able to support the amazing organisation Freedom from Torture and their upcoming auction on November 15th. Freedom from Torture works to support survivors of torture and help them rebuild their lives in the safety of the UK. I am particularly inspired by FFT as across their centres they offer creative activities to anyone who could benefit from more than just individual counselling. 

From baking to playing football, from art to music or gardening, FFT incorporates creative activities that can make a big difference to people dealing with the trauma of torture.

I am in astonishing company, with over 50 works from artists from around the world, such as Ai Wei Wei, Anish Kapoor, Anthony Gormley, and most poignantly, Iqbal - a survivor and former Freedom from Torture client. 100% of the sale price will go directly to support survivors of torture. The auction closes on Monday 15th November at 20:45 GMT and can be viewed HERE.

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Florence St George

Unit 10, Arlesey Business Park, Mill Lane, Arlesey, Bedfordshire, SG15 6RF

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