St Maden, a village of just 200 souls in the Brittany countryside, a place where Clive, “The Brunette” and the Leica came to holiday and unwind. On successive visits, Clive spent time with poultry farmer Sylvain, village baker Jacky and dairy farmer Hubert: the basis of a new project perhaps, “Archive St Maden”. Both fluent, but unfortunately not in the same language, Clive and Sylvain were nevertheless able to communicate but what remained a mystery to Sylvain was what of interest could an artist bring out of people like them.
It was on seeing the photos that Sylvain, his wife and colleagues realised what Clive already understood, that he was illuminating the best of their daily lives and brought to mind a quote from the painter Camille Pissarro “Bénis sont ceux qui voient de merveilleuses choses en d’humbles endroits, là où d’autres ne voient rien.” (Blessed are those who see wonderful things in humble places where others see nothing.) They remember Clive as straightforward, passionate and loving of life and the people of which it is composed.
Clive was up well before the lark to catch our village baker making his baguettes and croissants. Jacky, is a man of few words and expresses little emotion (imagine a complete Botox facial) but he was moved to tell Clive that in his life, nobody had ever observed him and concentrated on what he was doing like Clive had that morning. Clive’s photos capture a round-shouldered bear of a man doing a repetitive task with the care and concentration of a midwife delivering a baby.
This summer, the local camera club has been inspired by Clive’s work to present an exhibition “racontez-moi la ruralité en 2015” (tell me about country life in 2015) in St Maden and two neighbouring villages. Nothing more democratic: six of Clive’s photos are displayed side-by-side with twenty more from this club of amateurs in the streets for all to see, no entry fee and no closing times, just as he’d have liked it. Click here for more info.