Inspiring Women: Claire Basler – a rebellious artist
Inspiring women: Collaborative partnership with MidetPlus.fr
I like everything about Claire Basler. Needless to say, I like her work, which is so rich and varied with its bright and changing skies representing strong and harmonious nature. I also like her integrity to pursue a career path through thick and thin; her energy, willpower, persistence, creativity and her ingenuity.
From as far back as she can remember Claire Basler has never put down her pencils. She has always wanted to be a painter without openly expressing it – which in itself is a daring gamble at an age when we are trying to find ourselves.
Claire Basler dropped out of art school after several months as a way of saying no to the totalitarianism of conceptual art (a movement that was only recognised during the eighties). This might seem like a crazy move, but equally, this may have simply been an expression of her freedom.
‘Painting nature’ can be seen as a traditional subject, from the intellectual strain of bygone eras that forbade painting ‘outside the box’. However, for Claire Basler, choosing to paint nature was a question of survival and avoiding being ‘ruined’!
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Where it all began for Claire Basler
Her love of nature dates back to a childhood of summers spent in the Jura mountains, East France, being free in wild and unspoilt nature: “nature is so full of life, it is intelligent, a close companion. It is stable and strong yet vulnerable, which teaches the concept of patience.” “In short, it is an artist!” “Nature is a source of endless inspiration, a daily wonder, simply magical.”
You leave behind the mundane little inner-city street and you arrive in a place full of charm where everything is marvellously put together.
So, Claire would map out her own route, since it was to be different to others. She was one of the first artists to put together open days in her workshops so she can share her perspective with others.
And what a workshop it is! Pushing the door into her workshop – which has been located in central Montreuil, France, for quite some time – it’s an enchanting site… You leave behind the mundane little inner-city street and you arrive in a place full of charm where everything is marvellously put together.
Paintings and magnificent bouquets intertwine, and the sideboards are colourful and graphic. The place gives off a sense of well-being. Even the cat is part of the decoration, curled up on the lounge chair.
Always ready for a challenge
But Claire Basler always has her next project in mind and follows her instinct. After moving from place to place, she has finally settled down in Échassières at the Beauvoir Castle, in the French department of Allier. The challenge there was immense. Everything needs bringing to life.
Nevertheless, the place is magical and Claire creates something unforgettable: an enchanted escape, a stolen moment to enjoy every day. Walking around the castle and the common areas, you get the feeling of being on the set of two films, Beauty & the Beast and Donkey Skin. The walls are painted and the oversized bouquets mix with the paintings that carpet the walls.
Everything has its place. Everything is beautiful. Everything is harmonious.
Claire Basler has a true passion for aesthetic appeal, for her, it’s a real ‘force of joy’. When she looks at a place, she experiences it, she sees the light and the capacity. She is an unparalleled curator of spaces. Artistic composition is in her genes. She likes houses and believes that “nature, homes, and fabrics, are all at the source of what makes us feel good about ourselves. Decoration is important and not superficial, as it forms part of the art of living. When a place is beautiful, it becomes reassuring.”
Claire sees everything crying out for attention: a nail, a screw, an old mirror. Every scrap of paper is transformed into a beautiful lamp; painted boxes become elegant storage shelves; fairy lights brighten up a long bleak hallway; and the chandeliers, an everyday decorative feature, have a unique place among the decor.
Where does Claire get all of her energy from to juggle everything at once?
Not too much sleep, a clear vision of a project to work on, a keen attitude, and above all, the passion combined with natural energy and amazement: “I have never looked back on the idea of being an artist, for me, it’s a celebration every day of my life.”
A word of advice from Claire Basler is not to miss anything that’s going on in the world. Claire’s open days allow her to share with her visitors what nature has given her: strength, joy, emotion and contentment.
Head over to the castle at Échassières and make the most of the open day, you will certainly not regret it. And if you happen to be passing through Beijing in August, Claire is organising an exhibition there too.
An interview with Claire Basler
How would you describe your Mid&Plus stage of life?
I would say it is going very well, even if the mirror sometimes tells me the opposite. I believe that we are stronger, more radiant and peaceful; these are the forms of beauty which express themselves. We start to know more about enjoyment, understanding, discovering and digesting things, and we are less disorganised so we don’t suffer as much.
How do you apprehend the time that passes by?
It is not something that scares me. I will adapt my work to my means. My job will be changed often so that revitalises me. I never persistently think about things which are hard to predict. There is no point in apprehending the future, as there is still so much happiness on the horizon. Our resources are countless.
Do you have any advice for those who are not yet at that stage?
Learn to enjoy your age. Look back at the past, whilst taking positive lessons from it, and above all look-ahead. Look for the positive in yourself to get to know yourself better.
Has your gender ever forced you to give up certain projects in life?
No not really, that hasn’t made me give up. But to have a ‘feminine’ painting style and to be a woman has sometimes made things more difficult. However, when things are not easy and we still do them anyway, we become stronger.
What are your tricks, hints, and daily driving forces to live positively each day?
- Walk in the grass: take a walk rather than going shopping to buy a new dress.
- Tidy the studio, empty the dishwasher: nothing like housework chores to get yourself going, no need to even think!
Do you have a disciplined approach to training your mental and physical form?
[laughs] I smoke, I drink… In my opinion, there is no secret to good health. We spend too much time looking into the future, something I don’t believe in. Simply live life day by day.
What’s your ideal choice of clothing?
I really love my apron. It is so colourful. But I also like getting dressed up, even if I don’t often have the time or the opportunity to do so. Life in a castle is rugged and high heels aren’t really appropriate!
Which book do you have on your bedside at the moment?
Despite my lack of time to read, I have the classics such as Giono, Hugo and Stendhal.
Which values or ideas do you wish to convey to others?
The timelessness of things. People don’t know to look around them. Watching is a silent skill which is just as good as reading books. Look up to the sky and at others around you.
Have you ever been inspired by nature? In what way? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Inspiring women: collaborative partnership with MidetPlus.fr
[This article was originally written in French by Author: Agnès Brunel-Avereng]
Here at MyFrenchLife™ we have pleasure in announcing our collaborative partnership with French site MidetPlus.fr to produce this new series: ‘Inspiring women’.
This article first appeared on MidetPlus.fr and we have translated it into English for your added pleasure: publishing in both, French and English
Mid&Plus takes a decidedly positive view of women in the world and produces wonderful portraits of inspiring women.
This collaboration enables you to read this series of inspiring life stories in French and in English here on MyFrenchLife™ – MaVieFrançaise® magazine and also to visit midetplus.fr for further inspiration and read about Fondatrice Marie-Hélène Cossé.
We hope that you enjoy it.
Meet these ‘Inspiring women’: Spirit . Strength . Stories .
Marie-Hélène Cossé – founder of MidetPlus
Zahia Ziouani – conductor
Tina Kieffer – journalist
Alix Baboin-Jaubert – pilgrim
Hannelore Cayre – author+
Virginie Taittinger – femme champenoise
Zeina Egho – face of exile
Catherine Soulas-Baron – French etiquette
All images courtesy of midetplus.fr
Translated by Katie Wilkinson