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Published: September 28th 2012
The skin of the dead unicorn!
HIDDEN FRANCE 3. Felletin The unicorn has been killed... yes, I saw its skin!
Yes, in a village called Felletin, about 20ks south of Aubusson on the road to Ussel.
We stopped there to picnic on a bench for lunch and before driving on to Ussel, we decided to visit an exhibition of tapestries in the 'église du château'... except that the 'église' is not a church much but an exhibition hall and that there is no 'chateau' at all. Upon enquiry, the said chateau had apparently been demolished at some stage in History and the stones had been used to build this church. (Must check this info! I suspect evil deeds during the war of religions between Protestants and Catholics)
It was the week-end of 'National Heritage Days' (Journées du Patrimoine) when all heritage buildings in France, public and private, are open to the public for free. In this case, it was not quite free but we could visit at leisure for a fee of €1 (one euro) per person. I did have that amount on me fortunately although I was travelling on a shoe string as usual.
We saw it there, lying in the
The castle's church used as an exhibition hall for tapestries
middle of the church, the unicorn's skin, in black and white, all stretched out to be admired...
Well, yes, it was a tapestry, made of wool from Australia I believe, hand-woven by a local loom worker ("lissier" in French) and designed by a young French designer artist by the name of Nicolas Buffe
. This young guy lives part-time in Tokyo and was heavily inspired by comics and mangas. If you look up close, his unicorn's skin is covered in tiny details from his favourite comics!
In August I had met the guy, Patrick Guillot
, the 'lissier' who had woven this unusual tapestry. It took him months, of course, of patient and highly skilled efforts. On the day of the semi-ritual when the tapestry was cut off the loom, there were 300 people in attendance from all over the world.
As for me I admired the work, the idea, the shape, the mad design. A tapestry, for me, is a poster but because it is made of wool, it holds an aspect of sensuality. You can touch it and feel warmed by it. That unicorn's skin lying flat on the ground would be nice on the floor by the
The castle's church (with no castle)
fire place, indeed! However, I didn't like the added head and hooves made of black Limoges ceramics. Porcelaine is cold. It doesn't fit with warm wool. The idea behind it was to join the art of weaving in Aubusson with the art of ceramics in Limoges, neighbour cities, both proud of their trades.
Then we drove on to Ussel... a bit sad knowing that the unicorn had been killed!
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