The Hidden Paradise of Drool-Worthy Knives in France

The love for weaponry is re-emerging, and with the proliferation of reality shows, documentaries, and other forms of mainstream media regarding blacksmithing and weapon forging, it is not difficult to imagine that a lot of us have turned into knife geeks overnight. grand-cru-site_162Well, we have just found knife heaven, and it is not in the US. It’s actually in a small, idyllic town in France called Thiers. ghjkgikg.It was in this town that the iconic knife “Le Thiers” was created, designed way back in 1993 by the Brotherhood of the Thiers Knife. The guild’s French name even sounds cooler: “Confrerie du Couteau Le Thiers”.704887393e595e2a87ab0314cea9ece0 So what is Le Thiers? And what sets Thiers’ knives apart from others?

Le Thiers is a foldable knife with a simple yet classic design and dependable functionality—a knife truly designed to stand the test of time. It reminds us of the equally classic knife from the Philippines, the Balisong, only that it’s generally smaller in size, and is made with only one solid handle instead of two.balisongIt’s also a testament, a culmination of Thiers’ knife making tradition that heralds back to as far as the thirteenth century. In fact, culmination is a wrong term because their practice is far from over. Their industry is far from slowing down with more than 200 coutelleries (that’s what they call family-owned knife shops), in a town with a population of less than twelve thousand.ob_117077_magasin8Some of these workshops have been passed down to entire generations of knife makers for hundreds of years, such is their tradition of knife making. But did you know that you don’t have to be born in Thiers to be a coutelier? In fact, one of the most well-loved makers by knife connoisseurs, Roland Lannier hails from Paris. He only found his way to Thiers through his love for medieval weaponry in role-playing games.
DSF2171_flat-1024x683 Now, he leads his own workshop with two other knife makers: Agathe (a 23-year-old badass female knife maker with a degree on graphics decoration) and Guillame (a 27-year-old medieval fencer). If you ever do decide to visit Thiers, don’t forget to bring some tissues and be prepared to drool.
References: bbc.com,  rolandlannier.com

Roderic O’Conor – The Post Impressionist You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

The emergence of post impressionism is probably one of the most colorful and thrilling movements to ever happen in the world of art. Whenever we think about post impressionism, four names usually come to mind: Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, and of course, Vincent Van Gogh.image

(Vincent Van Gogh: Wheat Field with Cornflowers)

There’s one name you probably haven’t heard of yet, though. Roderic O’Conor. An Irishman who spent most of his life in France, O’Conor was surprisingly popular amongst artists. In fact, he even got into a brawl with Paul Gauguin and two other artists against a bunch of sailors in Breton fishing port in Concarneau. It was in this brawl that Gauguin got the broken ankle which will eventually plague him up to his death.
wwdFWE

(Roderic O’Conor: Field of Corn)

So, why doesn’t O’Conor’s name ring any bells?

That’s because he wasn’t too focused on putting his work out there. It wasn’t only until fifteen years after his death that his works even circulated in public when his widow auctioned all of them off.
ey5ye7

(Roderic O’Conor: A Tree in a Field)

He was well subsidized by his family, so he really didn’t feel the need to sell his works for a living, unlike other prominent artists at the time. What he did enjoy, though, is to go and view exhibits as much as he can. He liked examining styles and translating them into his own.
cunoamietbluehenderobstgarten1916191646_0

(Cuno Amiet: Blossoming Orchard)

This is the reason why we can almost hear Van Gogh or Cuno Amiet’s work echoing in his own pieces, and why some critics think his work as quite indecisive. Recognize the thick, bold, brush strokes of color? As well as those landscapes that can seemingly pop out into life at any moment?

Despite a lot of us not recognizing his name today, a lot of his contemporaries surprisingly know him well. He was an active member of different art circles, after all.
cri_000000157047

(Roderic O’Conor: The Glade)

If you are intrigued and want to see more of O’Conor’s works, then you can view Roderic O’Conor and the Moderns: Between Paris and Pont-Aven in the Beit Wing at the National Gallery of Ireland which will run from July 18 to October 28, 2018. It will be the first retrospective show dedicated to him in thirty years, and promises to show works that have never been viewed publicly before.

References: theartnewspaper.com, irishtimes.com, gauguingallery.com

Saint Albans Cathedral: a building of firsts and lasts

The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, approximately 20 miles north of the British capital, is a building teeming with firsts and lasts. It is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain, for example. Named after Britain’s first Christian martyr and saint, beheaded by Roman soldiers for his faith in the fourth century, the shrine of Saint Alban behind the high altar has been a site of pilgrimage for 1700 years. 2336565940_8b6c8f8a63_b Dominating the skyline from all around, parts of the current structure date back almost 1000 years, to just 23 years after the Norman Conquest of 1066, and is therefore one of the first Norman cathedrals constructed in the United Kingdom. By the time it was consecrated in the presence of King Henry I, 13 abbots had already served the saint’s shrine since his death.St_Albans_Cathedral_Lady_ChapelWhen constructed, Saint Albans Cathedral was also the largest building of any sort in the country, and today the 144 feet high ‘crossing tower’ (an architectural term meaning a tower at the center point of a cruciform structure) is the only eleventh century example still standing – and one which in part reused Roman-era bricks and flint from the old city of Verulamium.800px-St_Albans_Cathedral_Nave,_Herfordshire,_UK_-_DiliffThe cathedral also contains the longest nave (the central space of a church) in England, stretching a distance of almost 300 feet, and lined with a stark mixture of Norman-era and Gothic style arches that would originally have been plain in decoration. These arches were ornamented with murals depicting the life of Christ and other religious figures in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, making them some of the oldest and most extensive series of medieval wall paintings known. Hidden under whitewash for many years, they were rediscovered once more during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 1800s.Saint_Albans_Cathedral