It is January 2020 and I am sitting at my desk with the French doors open to the garden on a picture perfect day in January. The sky is blue, the vines in the adjacent vineyard are as bare as a musical score waiting for the maestro and there is a marvellous note of the excitement and renewal in the air.
I am excited to begin again too, with this first story in a series I have been writing about extraordinary women I have met since moving to Provence six years ago. I am inviting you into the special worlds they have created for themselves and others.
I have titled these stories under the heading, “Les Lubertines” for the creative, free and passionate approach they each possess and who, like me, have been enchanted by the “beautiful sorceress” that is Provence.
The photographs concentrate on the homes and studios they have created which as in the words of their fellow Provençal, Christian Lacroix, writing about his hunt for a new home in Provence, “My head is full of fragments of the past and scraps of the future, I live in expectation of my house in Provence which will, when time and place provide prove the more perfect for every way.”
As the Phoenecians, Greeks, Romans and all the rest of its visitors find, Provence can never be really be possessed, it can however, take residence in the creative imagination and nourish the soul as it has for for me and my “Lubertines”.
This first story is that of Kamila Regent, a gallerist and art curator and her home in the hill-top village of Saignon, in the Luberon region of the Vaucluse. Provence Alpes Cote d’Azure.
KAMILA REGENT IN SAIGNON
“ L’art, c’est ce qui rend la vie plus intéressante que l’art “ R. Filliou
Kamila Regent had “never dreamed of the perpetual sunshine and blue skies” that her French fiancé Pierre Jaccaud described to her of his native Provence. That was in 1992 when the couple lived in Brussels and Kamila headed a contemporary art gallery and where, as she tells it, the climate was much like of her native homeland in Gdansk Poland, “always grey and raining!”
It was in this state of climatic naivety that the newly married Kamila and Pierre decamped Belgium to spend a year in the Vaucluse, a heavenly region of Provence where Pierre had grown up. They called it a sabbatical year during which Pierre worked on a film script and Kamila would re-establish her art business in a unique new way.
Rather than marketing artists in her gallery she asked them to participate in ‘an experiment’…she invited them to Provence where she offered an artist-in-residence sojourn which gave Kamila a dual role as a collaborator in the art making process and as a muse. The Brussels gallery remained open and showcased the work produced in Provence. The artists, Kamila and the gallery thrived during that first sabbatical year in Provence and were the harbinger of things to come.
“Living in The Luberon in Provence was like being seduced by a beautiful sorceress whose magic steals your heart” Kamila told me. Her heart had indeed been stolen and the couple decided to make the 12th century village of Saignon their permanent home and began to house hunt.
It could not be any ordinary house. It needed to fulfill six prerequisites: to be a family home, accommodate an artist’s residency, have large studio and art storage spaces, a public gallery, rooms enough for a small hotel and to be a canvas with extraordinary flair.
All the conditions were well met in an exceptional four-story 18th century “maison- de-maître”. Surrounded by high walls and located under the bell tower of a 13th century Romanesque church the elegant house also had a large garden planted with mature cherries and a Linden tree whose leafy branches provide shade for an art garden and visiting guests.
The decor of the house is a breathtaking expression of personal style. The galvanic color palette showcases revolving collections of contemporary art. The divisions between public to private rooms in the multipurpose house are almost seamless as artists, guests, and family come and go freely. Each space has 19th century elegance, 21-century flamboyance and the intimacy of a well loved home.
Artists work is celebrated on the walls, the furnishings are rich and eclectic. A vast basket filled with artichokes – to be admired for their sculptural form is destined to be a delicious appetizer. Avocados grown by a friend in Nice mingle with lemons from a Marseilles garden in a ceramic bowl with the proportions of a giant fantastical crown. There are flower arrangements everywhere – some monumental – others just a single bloom on a mantle and all are all works of art.
While I have been writing Kamila and Pierre have been busy on yet a new project – also exciting visually and soon to be completed. As my mother would say “if you want something done, ask a busy person”!
For artists represented by Kamila Regent Gallery please go to the Gallery website page: https://www.kamilaregentgalerie.com/actualites-galerie-kamila-regent