Reflection on week at La Perdrix

La Perdrix is a wonderful, beautiful place. Time passed in a strange sort of way, I left with the feeling that I had been there for quite some time but was leaving too soon. The old buildings and their situ hold a fascinating and enchanting quality impossible to justify in description.   It bestowed a sense of peacefulness and contentedness whilst all the while evoking a certain je ne se qua.

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Ingrid gave instruction on throwing on the wheel and also gave us a project which entailed the making of our own instruments from upcycled materials and of putting on a performance with said instruments at the end of our week stay in La Perdrix.

I decided to make a cigar box guitar. After failing to find a cigar box I contemplated using a whiskey box or a singer sewing machine box/cover. I gathered a few more materials and ended up creating a Oud-ish type instrument with 3 strings that were impossible to keep in tune. It was constructed from a plank, a deep aluminium pan, some eyelet hooks and fishing line. The strings where made of fishing line, several strands wrapped together. Although the fishing line was strong enough under tension it kept stretching and once tuned the instrument would be out of tune a few hours later. I started off with what seemed initially to be a sophisticated tuning mechanism, however it soon turned out to not be as sophisticated as I thought as it was ineffective and did not work. So I adopted a simpler tuning method of tying the strings directly too eyelet screws (?) and then tightening them by screwing them tighter into the wood to tune. This worked much better but I still experienced the same tuning problems of pitch slipping over the course of an hour or so.

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In our performance we performed the Muppet’s theme tune, I had a short solo, which I think I performed ok. The whole thing seemed to work rather well. After our performance a member of the audience wheeled out a barrel organ that he had made nearly 20 years previous as a young man. It was equally fantastical and enticing, it was basically made up of lots of whistles, hand pumped bellows and a roll of card or book that denoted the melody and the whole of the music by punch holes. The card was fed through by the winding handle operated by the singer who wound the handle and sung. It was a brilliant machine and I intend to find out more about it. It was interested to hear how he writes the music for it and experiments and of the limitations and plus points of the machine. For example it only has a certain range in terms of octave (2 or 3) but it can be played with a guitar and the barrel organ attached to a bicycle allowing the performer to operate both at the same time whilst singing! A brilliant machine!

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Whilst we were at La Perdrix it was required that we take a day out of the weeks schedule as we were to cook for one day of the week. Me and Sophie decided to cook pasties for lunch with salad and cold meats and cheese and then paella for dinner, it all seemed to go down well. All the food during the week was excellent and plentiful, I had not eaten that well in a long time! It occurred to me at the end of the day whilst relaxing after a busy day in the kitchen, that cooking is a form of making itself. It is the making of flavours, experience and experiment and exploration. It made me feel I should pay more attention to food in the future, how it was constructed, the flavours, textures and overall experience that I am subjected too. Iv always been a fan f food but had never realised how interesting it was. Just before attending the La Perdirx trip I was introduced to Sushi at a restaurant in London by my girlfriend.  She explained that in Japan sushi was prised for texture over flavour. I tried to think about the different textures as I ate the sushi. I didn’t like every dish and some I loved, but mostly it started me off on thinking about food in a different way.

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Too conclude I had an excellent time at La Perdrix and learnt some invaluable things. I shall certainly be frequenting the throwing room from now on, I’m determined that I shall be at LEAST be able to throw simple forms by the end of my second year that are good enough to display or sell. In the meantime I shall certainly miss La Perdrix and its beautiful setting and am itching to return already!

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