Aboriginal Pavilion

The Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) has invited Indigenous people to participate in the organization of the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This partnership is interested : the Olympic Games take place on Indigenous lands and VANOC was fearing an anti-Olympic movement. They prefered collaborating with the First Nations by funding new facilities and educational and cultural projects.

The aboriginal artistic influence can be seen in the Olympic logo (which depicts an inukshuk, a pile of stones built by Inuits), in the traditional patterns etched on the Olympic medals and in the opening ceremony that featured Aboriginal dancers.

An Aboriginal Pavilion was temporarily located in Downtown to promote the Aboriginal cultures during the Olympic Games.

Aboriginal Pavilion

The Aboriginal Pavilion was topped with a dome. A 360° movie was screened inside the dome. It showed images of the First Nations blending past and present, maybe to demonstrate that Aborigines belong to modern society. Other animations were organized such as dance performances.

Aboriginal Pavilion by day        Aboriginal Pavilion by night
 The Aboriginal Pavilion by day ( (c) Ray Van Eng ) and by night ( (c) Susan Gittins )

A wood totem pole stood outside the pavilion. Totem poles are a Western Canadian First Nations’ tradition. Made up of stacked figures, a totem pole tells a story. You can recognize on the Pavilion’s totem pole, from top to bottom, a Thunderbird with spread wings, a whale (whose dorsal fin shows up in the middle of the totem pole), four faces representing four races of people and down, a bear.

totem devant le pavillon autochtone
Totem carved by Klatel-Bhi (c) Holly-Anne Burrows

By the Aboriginal Pavilion, steel and glass panels designed by artist Carey Newman combine contemporary materials with patterns inspired by some traditional indigenous motifs. He proves that you can come from a very ancient culture and at the same time be very modern.

panels by the Aboriginal Pavilion

The Aboriginal Pavilion gave a preview of Indigenous peoples’ cultural wealth. Even if it doesn’t change the fact that those peoples have to deal with a lot of problems (alcool, unemployment, high youth suicide rate…), Olympic Games have at least given a positive image of First Nations.

Version française

Urban Landscapes Exhibition in Paris

I’m not an expert on modern art. But I like some contemporary works of art. Among them I like Hélène Hurot’s paintings that always speak to my imagination.


ville verte (c) Hélène Hurot - All rights reserved
Ville verte (which means “green city”, this painting reminds me of Vancouver)
(c) Hélène Hurot
All rights reserved

This painting belongs to the series called “Urban Landscapes”. The ensemble has special meaning for me who am in North America. The paintings evoke impressive and gigantic skyscraper districts in North American big cities.

The “Urban Landscapes” exhibition runs through November 15, 2009 in Paris. I am not able to visit it because it is in France but I hope I will be luckier for the next exhibition.

Invitation to "Urban Landscapes" exhibition
Invitation to “Urban Landscapes” exhibition

For more information: Hélène Hurot’s official website


Version française

(Royal) British (Columbia) Museum

Victoria’s Royal BC Museum welcomes an exhibition called “Treasures: The World’s Cultures from the British Museum”. More than 300 items lent by London’s British Museum are on display.

In British Columbia, there is no comparable museum to the British Museum or the Louvre with a rich collection of archæological artefacts from everywhere. The exhibition gives an overview of the British Museum thanks to works of art of all periods organized by civilization. We go from ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia, from ancient Greece to medieval Europe and from Asia to the Americas.

I visited the British Museum some time ago. I don’t know when I can return there. Thus it is fortunate that the British Museum comes to me.

The London’s museum has not lent its most famous works of art nevertheless you can see some very beautiful pieces: a 3 000-year-old Egyptian mummy, a small gold mask from Israel, the Lewis chessmen of the Middle Ages (apparently their replicas were featured in the first Harry Potter film) and a charcoal by Henri Matisse. There are also some objects made by natives of British Colombia. They were brought to England by navigator George Vancouver at the moment of his exploration of the West Coast of Canada in 1792.

The displayed objects are various but they have the craftmen’s great skills in common. I could spend hours admiring details of the objects. So I lingered in front of this Persian calligraphy by Dara Shikoh (the son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal). It is adorned with birds and flowers painted with great finesse

calligraphie de Dara Shikoh

a page from an album of calligraphy copied by Dara Shikoh (c) The Trustees of the British Museum

At different points of the exhibition, animators explain what are some objects that you can handle and watch closely. For example, an animator talks about the invention of writing while showing inscriptions on a clay tablet from Mesopotamia (where Syria and Irak are today).

The exhibition runs through Sept. 30, 2009 in Victoria, BC.

For more information, see the Museum website


Version française

Character heads

I wonder whether this face is yawning or screaming.

a head by Messerschmidt
photo (c) Fondation Cartier



This expression is easier to guess.

a head by Messerschmidt
photo (c) imagesource.art.com

I was surprised to learn that these heads were not sculpted by a contemporary artist but by a eighteenth-century sculptor, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. He was not successful at that time. 
There are about fifty character heads. Most of them can be seen in different museums all over the world.

More expressions here.

Version française

Apollinaire’s Heart

Guillaume Apollinaire was a French poet. In a poem called calligram, the letters’ arrangement has a meaning. Here is an extract of the collection of poems Calligrammes


Mon Coeur pareil à une flamme renversée

This calligram is carved on Apollinaire’s grave. The poet is buried in Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. 

The text in French is: Mon Cœur pareil à une flamme renversée 
The translation in English could be: My Heart like an inverted flame 

Version française

Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris

I visited the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris during Heritage Days. The surroundings are nice and look like the Louvre Museum (it is normal because the museum is in a wing of the Louvre Palace). The museum is a maze of corridors and I had to ask several times how to get to my destination.

Decorative Arts, it is when daily objects become works of art. The museum presents some furniture, chests, chairs, tableware, jewellery etc. I liked the period rooms: there are for example a Renaissance bedroom, an 18th Century living room and the apartment of the fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin. I was only disappointed with the Jean-Paul Gautier exhibition in the Fashion department. I found that the clothes were a little worn.

Some restorers were present on the occasion of Heritage Days. A tapestry-maker explained how he repaired old tapestries. I heard that the wall hangings in the Jeanne Lanvin’s apartment were restored in India. I didn’t know that offshoring concerned culture too 🙁 .

Here are the pictures of my favourite works of art: 

Louis Quinze canapé

A magnificent eighteenth century canapé. The style of this sofa is called Louis Quinze. I was not allowed to sit on it but it looks comfortable and is very long.

the Nénuphar guéridon

An Art Nouveau guéridon designed and manufactured by the furniture designer Louis Majorelle around 1902. The top is in the form of a water lily leaf.

tea set

And a tea set made around 1785.

With this furniture I could furnish a living room to my liking.

Version française