Ceramics and Architecture
Last week Ferd and I were on holiday in the beautiful Loire Valley, and visited the Château de Chenonceau. In addition to being very interesting historically, I was struck by the sumptuous yet faded interiors, which have clearly seen heavy domestic use. In the reception hall the ornate majolica tiles have been worn to their bare clay, with all the decoration and glaze worn away.
Upstairs, more robust terracotta tiles had been fitted. I think these were the originals, there were a huge amount of original Flemish tapestries in all the rooms, for decoration and warmth. They were quite badly faded, but still beautiful. The different colours of the tiles was quite lovely, and the surfaces had been burnished by the movement of people over hundreds of years.
During WWII the Chateau was converted into a hospital, and was also used as a route across the River Cher, which it bridges. The thought of these incredible interiors being used as wards was so interesting; no wonder the floors were in such a state.
Some of the terracotta tiles were stamped with heraldic symbols
The inlaid tiles I’ve been making lately have their roots in very old techniques used for decorative flooring. Here on the first floor corridor there was once an incredibly rich and decorative surface, every tile had been stamped and decorated with a yellow slip for complete the bespoke pattern which fitted the dimensions of the room exactly. Hundreds of feet walking across the floor have worn away the surface and the inlaid pattern, to the bare terracotta beneath. The pattern is shown only at the edges and in the corners of the room