Last July, with my friend the English artist Andie Wilkinson, I opened a store in my village (Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in South West France) where we sell vintage clothes and antique objects, dishes, books. Together we designed the layout to display objects and clothes mixed with our own artworks as though we were creating an art installation.
This new project is not so much about selling but mostly about buying. Andie and I work independently sharing the same spirit. I buy what I find beautiful, anything that attracts my eyes. Hand blown glasses, an old metal and wood tool, a cup, a skirt, gloves, a bag, a leather purse, wool sweaters, a pile of plates, a men’s coat, a vase… I become passionate searching. Finding something beautiful is very difficult. I go to thrift stores, charity stores, anyplace where people give away whatever they don’t want. The stores are often in suburban areas or industrial zones of small towns. Most of the merchandise is ugly and of poor quality, all unsorted and there is a tone of it. I look through racks and racks of clothes, endless stacks of clothes on trays, piles of plates, shelves filled with cups, glasses, books, baskets of scarves or jewelry… I never know what I will find, if I find anything but then I find a treasure. An incredible ceramic piece for example. When my eyes see something beautiful, I am filled with emotion but it can create a dilemna : Should I keep it for myself ? « No, you have too many coats, this one is for the store ! » or « No, you don’t have any space on your cup (or teapot) shelf anymore ! » But when the desire is too strong, I keep the new item and will eventually sell another one from my personal collection.
Doing this work since six months, I’ve learned a lot about European ceramics, the different brands that existed during XXth century. My taste evolved over time, I get tired of some colors or patterns and suddenly am attracted to a new one. It’s a mystery. I try to follow my senses as much as possible and not to think about it. Thinking could lead me to the wrong direction, for example buying something that I think would sell easily and that I don’t particularly like. I don’t want to do that. I prefer to buy something I love and that I doubt I will ever sell. But I’ve had surprises and found out there’s always someone that can share my taste. I discovered that commerce, when you do it with your heart and sensibility, is about sharing, just like publishing.
*Le Batèl means the boat in occitan (France), the original language from the region where I live.
March 2, 2023