French Still.

Now you might think this is a reference to my wish that we were still members of the European Community, which is my wish but that aside it’s about this drawing. This van and the detritus around was located in the south West of France, and I spotted it whilst on a short walk in the area. It’s a farm and the van looked like it was pitted with rust and there were large containers and lots of pipework on the back of the van as well as in the buildings. Spotting the farmer wandering across his yard with his back to me. He stopped at the corner of a building and I saw my chance and asked him in my best ‘O’ level French if he’d mind me taking photographs. He answered me when he’d stopped peeing, and I clarified that I’d like to take pictures of his farm and not of him, that would have been a bit weird. He waved a go ahead and I asked him what all this stuff was around his yard and he explained that it was his mobile brewery. This explained the staining on the van, caused by the alcohol in the air. If you ever get the chance to visit a whisky distillery you’ll see trees nearby with what look like sooty bark, this is caused by the alcohol in the air.

The area grows grapes for cognac and the French like to use all the bits that are left over, to make additional products and that is what he did, taking his van to various fairs and events. I cannot imagine what it might have tasted like, or what sort of lightproof blindfold the authorities might be using to take no interest in his activities.

I know that in matters like this they don’t pay much attention to the odd illicit still. The local supermarket also hosted an old Renault van on some days that cooked home made pizza from a wood burning oven in the back. One could feel the nuclear heat emanating from this pizza parlour from several cars away in the car park where it sensibly located itself next to the petrol station.

I wonder if the farmer is still making his liquor, and if the pizzas ares till warm.

This is one of a series of quite large drawings done over the last few months. This is A2 and is Indian ink and pastel, on layout paper, glued ( with the modern equivalent of cow gum ) onto white board.

I shall post a few of these in the coming weeks. They are all in black and white, I might run to colour sometime in the coming year, but don’t hold your breath.