If you read my last post ('After he was gone') you will be interested to learn that this painting has become the first of a series of paintings that are expressing a new fascination for me. For the past few years i have been travelling around this fascinating country exploring its famous sights and its intimate places. I have done the tourist trail, wandered the less traveled paths of country locations and walked every alley in central Saigon. The places that give me the deepest tingle are those in which something very private happened.
I sat on the steps of a temple's Lotus pond in a place that was so quiet I could hear the tiny fish nibbling insects on the water surface. I shared an hour with some Red Dzao matriarchs as they embroidered panels for their daughters' trousers. I sat, sketching, on a rock amid rice terraces, in the rain as a tiny frog sheltered from the rain drops on my foot. My previous post tells of time spent in the room of a deceased neighbour, breathing in incense and the lingering shadows of a life lived in war, upheaval and traditions.
What I have learned from the past masters of art is that there is no need to travel far and wide to find the essence of a place or the beauty of a nation. In fact, the beauty is right here in the old French Quarter of Hoi An where March Gallery is located. Here, I have found the very soul of Vietnam, the stories, the colours, and the affirmation of place.
John Constable was one of the most revered of England's early 19th century artists and research has shown that he never painted more than half a mile from his home at Flatford Mill in deepest Sussex.
My series of paintings 'The old French Quarter' is about the small neighbourhood that is less than half a mile from March Gallery.