Pastorale (les Belles Heures) is a series of photographs at which I am at work since 2008.
In the Allier, a vast countryside with meadows, woods, villages and small towns, I became intrigued by the many Romanic churches which stood the ravages of time. To enter such a church in autumn, winter and early-spring, is like entering another world.
The colourful stained glass windows are in stark contrast with the barren landscape. They act as a prism to the light from outside so that one can see patterns of color on the stone walls and floors. The colors move along floors, walls, paintings or sculptures thus giving the interior other dimensions at different times of the day.
Standing in such a church, often alone, in a village were not a sound is heard, surrounded by a vast countryside, these windows seem the only embodiment of spirit and beauty. One thinks of the peasant population who for centuries must have regarded these windows in a similar way.
To bring these windows together with pictures of the countryside was for me the most logical way to
encapture what seems crucial in this part of France. Also the cows belong to it, like strong draw horses belong to Belgium and sheep to Ireland.
There is a well known tradition in landscape painting in my native Holland, by painters as Ruysdael, Potter and Koekoek. Their outlook in combination with the pastoral tradition in a line of poets such as Theocritus, Virgilius, Jean of France, Sannazarro and more recently John Clare, Emily Dickinson, became the guidance for my project.
Maybe because of their sense of wonder.
Digital Photography, NIKON D5000, different sizes