First Rouen which, though I've only visited twice for overnight stops, is fast becoming one of my favourite places. A city of fretwork cathedrals, Joan of Arc, cobbled streets, and medieval buildings.
There is an abundance of wrought ironwork in France, from the elegantly simple to the very ornate (see a selection here). I confess to a bit of a thing for wrought iron. I think it stems from Sundays spent looking at the 'angels and leaves' altar rail in the Methodist Church of my childhood. Also maybe the toddler hours spent tracing the bannisters at home (followed by more, older, hours spent dusting them).
Although the patterns I create are not all 'traditional' in style, I do love looking at old patterns. One of my favourite resources is the book 'Pattern Design' by Lewis F. Day which I treasure for its old diagrams and inspiration, although rather less for its archaic (1880's) language.
Pattern design heaven really kicked in when we reached our home for the week. Billie & Ben, the owners of La Grande Maison, allowed me to photograph the old original wallpapers they found when they bought the house, some of which they have managed to restore and keep.
They also showed us the, as yet undecorated, old ballroom, a quite atmospheric and lovely room. If you look carefully behind the mirror you can still make out the words written by German soldiers stationed there during WW2.....
Nearby, Chateau Villandry provided another opportunity to gourmandise on period patterns:
This holiday was also heaven for the company we kept. Twice a week Billie & Ben cook meals served in the old wine press room - you don't have to go if you don't want to and if, like me, you can't eat what they are serving that night, they are very happy for you to take your own plate round. We met tree surgeons, industrial chemists, stone carvers, (all English), a teacher and an illustrator of children's books (both French). And we met Billie & Ben, actually both professional musicians. Best of all, for me, was that I happened to have taken some of my printed designs with me. I showed them to a sixteen year old guest studying GCSE Textiles and told her about the Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design course. And then other people showed interest in seeing them. The feedback was amazing.....I am an artist!
So, if you're feeling jaded and inspiration-less, leave the house behind and travel. Even if, for you, it can only be a walk around the block - go with eyes & mind open to what's hiding there. I promise you will either see something new or see the old in a new way.