LANDSCAPE PERCEPTION WORKSHOP AT THE FOOTHILLS OF THE FRENCH PYRENEES
At Lac du Montbel , the first day, facing south towards high mountains, a varied group of European landscape enthusiasts examined what it was they saw. Using drawing it was evident that everyone noticed the lake, the hill with its village, an intrusive water-tower and fields. Behind that they recorded a hill-ridge covered with trees and still beyond, the high mountains. Notably each person had a different take on the scene. One looked at geological features, one just at colour, another majored on agricultural features and the other noticed the mood/atmosphere including the sounds. Predictable perhaps, interesting certainly. The 'Legible Landscape' manual, which is widely used in Holland to engage people in landscape and its development, was issued to offer guidance for the following days.
Recognizing that landscapes contain many different factors, both large and small, the next day the group concentrated on plant observation by walking through a deep gorge to a high mountain plateau. The main task was to observe the many different manifestations of plant growth (forms, colours etc.) in relation to their distinctive sites.
In the evening they were introduced to Merleau Ponty through a work by David Seamon and discussed how we experience and are engaged in the world. The main idea is that it is through our perceptional experiences that our body-subject learns/knows how to interact with the world and it is only partly through cognitive (conscious) endeavours that we experience the unlearned.
The group went out for a day to practise a ‘Legible Landscape’ session on the edge of a large flat valley facing Puivert Castle.
|near Lac Soulcem|
|Plateau du Sault|
The group's experience of how the landscape reflected mediaeval Occitan society was deepened by visiting the medieval centre of 'La Cite' in Carcassonne and a village where the houses were situated in an accurate circle around the church. From Fanjaux, a hill-fort village and important historical site they had a marvellous view of the large broad valley below, situated between Bordeaux (Atlantic) and Narbonne (Mediterranean), with its harmonious patterns of fields, hedges, and villages, and across in the far distance the Montagne Noire (Haute Lanquedoc). A true example of the working together of nature and culture through time.
|View from Fanjaux|
This appears to have been a thoroughly European event. The group comprised one Welshman, one Latvian, one Dutch lady living in Finland and a man and woman from Spain. Days in the field were accompanied by evening discussions and a presentation.