Finding artistic inspiration in France

The medieval village of Vouvant, in the west of France, has been proving an inspirational rural idyll for Cayman’s local artists.

Affectionately known as the village of painters, prolific artist John Broad recently travelled to the walled-village situated in the Vendee to gain inspiration for a fresh series of paintings.

John stayed with David and Helen Genty, owners of the local art gallery Galerie de la Tour.

New York based Caymanian artist Bendel Hydes also stayed with the Gentys last year, when he helped them set up an artist’s resident programme and cultural exchange for Cayman’s artists.

‘As an artist, it’s always interesting and refreshing to go somewhere new,’ John said of his week-long visit to Vouvant, which was sponsored by Andreas Ugland.

Situated high on a hill in a crook of the river Mere, and with the reputation as being one of the prettiest villages in France, John said he found it easy to gain inspiration.

‘There was such a wide variety of images to capture, the architecture, vegetation, and amazing colours. Although my colour palette still remained vibrant, I found the tonal range changed and became more varied.’

While there John painted a series of paintings and preliminary studies and sketches, which he will use to form a new body of work. He plans to exhibit the work at a solo exhibition at the Westin early next year.

‘I woke very early everyday and walked round the village and the surrounding countryside, capturing the colours as the sun came up and the reflections on the river,’ John said.

One scene in particular – a tower, L’Our Melusine with the river in the foreground – captured John’s attention and forms the inspiration for a large body of the work.

‘This scene in particular really interested me. The reflection of the tower in the river; the interplay of colours; the cool and warm contrasts.

‘There is also a legend of a young lady called Melusine of Anjou who used to live in the tower and transformed into a dragon. This legend really captured my attention and I hope to explore this theme in some of my paintings further,’ the artist said.

During his stay, John had an opportunity to exhibit his work at a local gallery, and an opportunity to exhibit artwork in Nice has also arisen as a result of the trip.

‘It’s always good for an artist to travel and broaden horizons and gain different life experiences and images to work with. It has given me a fresh outlook on my work,’ he said.

‘Overall the experience was very enjoyable and I’d like to go back to develop more ideas.’

John moved to Grand Cayman in 1989 from the UK when he took up an art teaching post at the Cayman Islands High School. Since then he has held many solo shows and participated in numerous group exhibitions. In 2003 he was commissioned by the National Gallery to paint the Quincentennial year Wall of History. His work – which the artist describes as infused with colour, movement and passion for the human spirit – can be found in collections across the US and Europe.

To, contact the artist call 917 0951, or email [email protected].

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