TWO MEMORIAL STATUES

One from the First World War; one, from the Second … figures in total contrast to each other, as were the wars they fought, different as the trenches of Verdun and the Somme, to the backstreet plotting of the Resistance.

Poilu with Fort Carré (top right)

The Poilu is far from the centre of town, beyond the harbour on the slope of Fort Carré, a formidable figure, uniformed in a thick overcoat, boots, water bottle, food bag and rifle.  From the pavement, with the pedestal, he stands at twenty metres, framed by cypress trees.  The frowning visage gazes far over the Bay of Angels in the direction of Nice.

Frowning, he gazes over the Bay of Angels

On the pedestal on each side, the engraved names … the names … names … Who was Louis Roux?  Whose father was he?  Whose brother?  Whose friend?  Whose son?

The names … the names … 

The word Poilu means hairy or unshaven, typical of the soldiers in the trenches.  The word has also come to mean soldier, referring specifically to the 1914-18 war.  There is a legend, interesting if sad, of the sculptor Henri Bouchard who, after the inauguration of the statue in 1918, committed suicide.  The reason, they said, was that he had made a mistake with the figure: the weapon is in the left hand and should be in the right.

With the firearm in his left hand

The other memorial statue is in the centre of Antibes on Place de la Republique, where crowds stroll to and from the medieval quarter.  This figure has no uniform, no water bottle, no bag for food, no helmet, no firearm.  As a martyr, he is naked.  He does not stand erect as Poilu does; he is wrung between arms and hands.  In his pain, he gazes down.

Memorial to the martyrs of the French Resistance

There were three sculptors — the Meyer brothers from Grenoble and Léon Delsaut, members of the French Resistance and personally honoured by Charles de Gaulle.  Their struggle against a merciless enemy has often been called the war without uniforms, the war of shadows.  This figure recalls for me Rodin’s figure on the Portal of Hell.

Rodin’s figure from the Portal of Hell

It is also at this memorial statue in Antibes that victims of present-day terrorism in France have been honoured.

©  Will van der Walt

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

November, 2017

 

Source

Pierre Tosan : Dictionnaire d’Antibes Juan-Les-Pins. HEPTA Antibes, 1998.

 

Images

My photos

Rodin – arplastik.com

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

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J.C.E. Seeliger – architect

The first in a series of two

It is interesting how few people know who the first South African architect of note was.  We reach for names like Herbert Baker (Union Buildings, Groote Schuur Hospital, etc), but he was born in Kent … J. Parker, H. Rowe-Rowe, F. Cherry, E. Simpkin, S. Stent … none of them was born in South Africa.  And so, few of us know … probably because architects are strangely invisible and unsung.

            The young Seeliger

His name was Johann Carl Ernst Seeliger, born to Prussian-German immigrants who had actually been on the way to Australia and found themselves, after being defrauded of their possessions, more pleasantly situated in Paarl where their baby, born soon after their arrival, was christened in the Rietdak Church in 1863.  In his late teenage years he undertook a hazardous journey on a barque to Europe and made his way to Berlin where, for the next few years, he trained as an architect before returning to South Africa.   In the late-19th-century the cities of South Africa were undergoing change which would make them largely what they are now.  For an architect these were exciting times.

                      10 Keerom St, Cape Town

His magnum opus, built in 1904, is the building at 10 Keerom St, central Cape Town, opposite the Supreme Court.  This building, in classical jugendstil, was the home of the Burger newspaper for decades, along with various other media agencies.  It was also where Seeliger’s office and studio were throughout his life.

           St Stephens Church, Riebeeck Square

Much of what he did is unknown.  In 1902, he was  commissioned to convert the entry porch of St Stephen’s Church, built in 1800, on Riebeeck Square.  He gave the front door and the flanking windows a Gothic character.  The building was declared a national monument in 1965.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

November, 2017

 

Sources

W.J.v.d.Walt:  Johann Carl Ernst Seeliger – noted architect –  article in Lantern, 1994.

Acknowledgement and thanks to the late Miss Anna Seeliger for information and photographs.

Thanks to Joan Brokensha.  

 

Images

Seeliger family archive.

St Stephens – Mervyn Hector

 

 

 

 

J.C.E. Seeliger – architect

The second in a series of two

Seeliger, having been trained by modernists in Berlin, was creative and daring in his designs.  One of his buildings was the Baumanns Biscuit Factory in New Market St in Woodstock, which features a concrete span, revolutionary at the time.  His own home in Camp St, Gardens, featured a sliding door, probably the first of its kind in the country and which has become standard fixture.

       Corporation Chambers, Grand Parade

Other buildings include the Corporation Chambers on the Grand Parade, the Heritage Building on Green Market Square and the Hohenort in Constantia, where Seeliger is honoured by having the conference room named after him. There is benefit in discovering that your Victorian home in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town, was designed by Seeliger.

     Heritage House, Green Market Square

There are buildings dotted around the Cape Colony and Namibia each which bears testimony to his prolific energy.

Paul Weiss-Haus, Luderitz

A dour man, he shunned public life, quietly leaving his monumental mark on the Cape Town cityscape.  He died in 1938.

     Seeliger in his later years

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

November, 2017

 

Sources 

W.J.v.d.Walt:  Johann Carl Ernst Seeliger – noted architect –  article in Lantern, 1994.

Acknowledgement and thanks to the late Miss Anna Seeliger for information and photographs.

Special thanks to Joan Brokensha.  

 

Images

Seeliger family archive.

 

 

 

 

TOUSSAINT

I remain haunted by the memory, from a few years ago, of a woman, heavily pregnant, in the cemetery.  I noticed her at a nearby grave, placing chrysanthemums, as is the custom throughout France, on a marble slab.  It was Toussaint, the first of November.

I went again today, mainly to pay respects to Claudie’s late husband, something she and I have done together in the past.  I suspect too, that it was for those that I have lost in my life as well.

                                       Florists

At the gate there were florists selling bunches of chrysanthemums and tulips.  A woman with a collection box was making appeals for Le Souvenir Français, an organization to remember war veterans and to support them.

                      Cemetery, November 1st

Walking through the cemetery, I was struck by how bed-like the graves are.  In Istanbul, probably because urban space is limited, the graves were all upright.

I stood at the plaque for Bernard and I assured him that I take care of Claudie.  Then I made my way back meditatively on the winding path, thinking that Greeks and Romans from two and a half thousand years back might well have had a necropolis here.

A French family passed me walking briskly — two men in conversation, followed by a well-dressed, handsome elderly lady arm-in-arm with a young woman, in animated conversation.  As they disappeared along the tree-lined curve of the pathway, I thought I heard laughter.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

1st November, 2017

 

Images

Il y a 4 heures

Lawlessfrance.fr

Selectafrance.com

 

 

 

 

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