Posts Tagged ‘J1’

In Spring last year, Marseille residents and visitors were invited to upload their photos to the ‘Chercheurs du Midi’ website to construct a communal photo album of life in Provence. (more…)

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IMG_4813It’s not often you visit a gallery with a massive Algeria Ferries boat docking alongside but that’s what happened yesterday when I called in to J1 to see the latest expo ‘A La Gitane’.gipsyposter

It’s a small collection of items – mainly photographic – pertaining to the lives of gypsy families who live in Arles.  They are gitans catalans with a few Roma from Hungary or Roumania, who speak French and their own mix of Catalan.  The town of Arles has invested in 47 homes for them in an enclave called Quai des Platanes just off the autoroute.  The architect has tried to make the dwellings a little like traditional gypsy caravans.  dwellings

Cleanliness is very important in their culture and the women spend all morning in their pyjamas attending to household tasks; they get ready at 13:00 for their day.  Cooking is mainly done outside and seems to be communal.  Generations live together with the elderly providing guidance for their families, and the mothers being key influencers in society.  The men make money where they can, often on markets or selling door-to-door, and are responsible for the ‘cadre’ for behaviour in their community. 

Local school children have been involved in interviewing the gypsies and their drawings enlived the exhibition.  The tone is very positive, almost celebratory.  It is in marked contrast to the derogatory TV documentaries on UK TV.

It’s too small for a special trip, but if you are going to see Mediterranées, the major exhibition, do put aside a half hour to look at this.  Free. Daily 12-18hrs.  On til 17th March. 

Note: the J1 gallery closes mid-May until September as it is only a temporary space and lacks air-conditioning. 

‘Poissons Coquillages et Crustacés’ are on the menu at the Maison de l’Artisanat in the cours d’Estienne d’Orves until 16th March.  There are some lovely pieces – a wonderful wire and fabric lobster with glittery embroidery, pictures of Marseille fish-sellers, pretty mobiles of ceramic fish swirling in the air.

octopusfishceramic fish

Open Tues-Fri 10-12, 13-18.

Sat 13-18. Free.

They are also giving away free copies of this colourful exhibition poster, or at least they were yesterday.

And finally, a visit to Pavillon M is definitely worthwhile – I’ve described it in a previous post.

What I didn’t realise is that you can have a special e-post card, Greetings from Marseille, made and sent to the email box of your choice.  It’s a shame they stand you in front of the bit that says ‘Marseille’ but there we are.  A fun souvenir for the kids!


There is so much happening in Marseille right now.  And much more to come when, finally, the major new galleries open in the coming months.

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At recent social gatherings, the talk has frequently turned to the difficulty in sussing out what is going on round here.  Everyone agrees that events often seem to spring out of the blue with little advance publicity, which is after all one of the reasons I started this blog.  The MP2013 organisers have certainly tried to communicate with their new website plus key dates published; but even so, it can be tricky to figure out exactly what is on offer.  I can read descriptions over and over and still have little idea what will happen.  I have in the past put this down to my shaky French but now feel reassured that local hoteliers are finding an equal lack of solid information.

They claim that since the beginning of the year, they have been experiencing la morosité, great word, and are asking someone somewhere to ‘boost la communication’. The authorities are pointing out that J1 has had 40,000 visitors and the Pavillon M 80,000, numbers they expect to grow once the skiing season is over.  They said that that was the experience in Lille.  But the hoteliers complain that more has been spent on cultural aspects rather than marketing them. Running promotional campaigns for hotels, which link say weekend breaks to cultural events, needs timely and clear information and this is what has been short.  So 1 million euros has been debloqué for increased communications so hopefully we will see a difference.

I did notice in Marseille when I recently visited, a white painted message on the pavement.  It was outside a hotel which, it explained, had been a centre for immigrants fleeing Nazi persecution in their own countries.  Some travelled onwards but the unfortunate families who stayed were rounded up and deported.  I now learn that the message I saw is part of a programme publicising over 60 locations in town where arrests and incidents took place.  Here is a link to the Alain Paire Gallery website which has a full article on this programme and the part that the Mexican ambassador played in helping get people out of France. http://www.galerie-alain-paire.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=219:gilbert-bosques-consul-du-mexique-a-marseille-qici-memeq-15-cours-joseph-thierry&catid=7:choses-lues-choses-vues&Itemid=6

New in Marseille this week is an exhibition of paintings and art works on the theme of ‘Poissons, Coquillages et Crustacés’.  fishIt’s on at the Maison de l’Artisanat which you will find at 21 cours d’Estienne d’Orves, a few steps from the Vieux Port and the real fish market.

It’s a small gallery, on two floors, but they do interesting exhibitions and it’s free!  Until 16th March, Open Tues-Fri 10-12, 13-18; and Sat 13-18.

A new exhibition on life in the gypsy community starts on Tuesday 19th at the J1 gallery along in La Joliette.  ‘Partage de Memoires Gitanes’  has been curated by the Musée Arlatan in Arles and focuses on the traditional lives of Provencal gypsies. It comprises interviews, photography and symbolic objects – and sounds rather interesting.  More info here: http://www.culture-13.fr/agenda/partage-de-memoires-gitanes.html

Not a great deal new to report in Aix.  This weekend is the last opportunity to see the objects on the ‘L’Art à l’ Endroit’ art trail, none of which I suspect will be much missed though I think everyone agrees that the splendidly dotty trees in the cours Mirabeau did much to brighten the opening weeks of the year.  I did this week visit the Camus exhibition which is open during afternoons at the Cité de Livre but came away very disappointed.  I don’t know much about him, apart from memories of reading La Peste and L’Etranger at school; but this exhibition didn’t help at all.  It’s just a collection of photos and typewritten scripts in glass cases with no overarching narrative or helpful explanation for those of us not in the know.  Ironically, after all I said at the beginning of this post, this one has been wonderfully well communicated with large posters in bus-shelters all over town.  You might like it more than I did.

Whatever you do, enjoy the blue skies this weekend!




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The last time I was in Marseille, I was very keen to see an exhibition of French advertising posters.  I think the French are brilliant at this and always have been, right from the old Belle Epoque metal ads for Chocolat Menier through to today’s ads for small village fetes.  I knew the expo was at 9 La Canebiere – what could be simpler?  But I couldn’t find 9.  I investigated when I got home and it turned out that the expo is actually inside the Bourse!bourse  You have to enter a little gap in the fabulous trompe-l’oeil painting – see right.

So, it is totally hidden away and not surprisingly we were the only visitors yesterday.

But what a show!  The city of Marseille has 4000 posters from way back and this is just a small sample of the collection.  There are ads for lots of consumer goods – especially local ones like Pernod or soaps; plus great travel ads promoting the Cote d’Azur or individual resorts like Bandol or La Ciotat.  They are marvels of simplicity – stylish and colourful – each with a single and very clear proposition. IMG_4758

This is open every day but only on until 13th March.  What a shame they can’t find a permanent home for all these affiches.  They would be a great resource for students of marketing or graphic design.IMG_4748

On now to another exhibition, Mediterranées which is at the J1 – the jetty sticking out to sea that I described in a previous post.  It’s a 10-15 minute walk from the Vieux Port to La Joliette,  plenty of fresh air (esp this week!) but roadworks etc to dodge around.

But it’s worth the walk as the building is so interesting and apparently is only on loan, as a gallery, for this Year of Culture.

Mediterranées is a celebration of Mediterranean culture that explores 11 cities and their contributions.  It starts in Troy and leads us through Tyre, Athens, Alexandria, Rome, Al-Andalus, Venice, Genoa, Istanbul, Tunis and Algiers – right up to Marseille today.  Each city has an explanatory panel and a selection of objects to illustrate its past. There are some wonderful statues, pots, paintings, models of original boats, mosaics etc to give us a feel for each culture, plus films of current residents talking about, for instance, the Arab Spring, or life in Berlusconi’s Italy.IMG_4772 

Here’s Isis (right), a bit chipped on the nose but after 1800 years still looking beautiful.  They have gathered some magnificent exhibits.  The section on Venice includes a portrait of the Holy Roman Emporer Charles V but neglected to point out that he had the temerity to invade Aix and burn down our Hotel de Ville!

The whole exhibition is mounted in and on reclaimed shipping containers which is fun and very appropriate given the original function of the building.  Funnily enough at Christmas we had lunch at Tate Britain in London which is being renovated and the café had been moved to 3 shipping containers on the front lawn.  Maybe these containers will outlive in usefulness all the junk they transport.

Entry to J1 is free but the expo is 9€.  Buy tickets at the entrance to the building – they are not available at the entrance to the expo itself.  Also interesting photography, café and loos.  Open 12-6 daily.  Close to La Joliette metro station.


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