'No one will understand a Japanese garden until you've walked through one, and you hear the crunch underfoot, and you smell it, and you experience it over time. Now there's no photograph or any movie that can give you that experience.' J. Carter Brown
These Japanese gardens are in Maulevrier in the south west of France. The gardens date back to the late 1800's, are meticulously well maintained by the local government, and are a major tourist attraction. In 1987, Japanese professors from the horticultural universities of TOKYO and NIIGATA recognized the 12 hectares of the classified site as 'Japanese- gardens inspired by the period EDO (XVI-XIX centuries)'.
Initially influenced by Chinese gardens and the guidelines of Feng ShuiJ, Japanese gardens can be designed with diverse intentions - in this particular case, as described by the official description - 'In this garden a group of rocks represents the mountain from which flows a head symbol of the birth. From the source to the pool, a small vivid stream evokes childhood, the pond evokes the period of doubt and indecision of adolescence, followed by the cascade symbolizing the physical and intellectual changes of this period. To reflect the problems of adult life, the stream which follows is meandering and the water is running, symbolizing active life. Finally, the central pond in the garden, the lake, represents old age and retirement, a calm and serene period, very important if we take into account the size of the lake compared to other periods. '
I set up my easel in the gardens along with some fellow painters, and painted this view over the water, ignoring the grander vista and focussing on the harmony in this fragment.