Thursday, May 13, 2010

Not Just Another Cave

After a lovely walk in the morning today (real time), The Ramblers, minus Ken and Nada, hoiked ourselves off to a cave containg real rock paintings. Here was the perfect counter to Lasceaux, for that one reason. Though it was not the only one.

The early inhabitants of these valleys were nomads who followed the bison and the antelope across the landscape. Here were the ideal conditions to record the key incidents and personnel that punctuated their lives. Here also were the ideal locations on which to record them - deep within the many caves that are to be found in these verdant valleys. The cave paintings at Font de Gaume.

Unlike the fake at Lasceaux, this cave is the real deal (at least that's what we were told). This guide took guiding to a whole new level. Her enthusiasm for her task was evident from the care she took in creating an atmosphere of awe and respect for the subject matter. [This approach was reflected in the fact that only 200 people per day are allowed through. No exceptions. No booking, no admission. Heaps of people turned away at the door.]

Throughout the tour through this very narrow cave, audible (genuine) gasps could be heard from the 11 of us. Our guide was able to manipulate the simple lighting system (her torch and laser) to give us an idea of what the paintings - of bison, antelope and horses - would have appeared to the artists. They shone out from the gloom, almost taking on a life of their own. Picasso is said to have remarked something about having learned nothing of art since the time of the making of these pictures.

It is not known how long these paintings will be open to the public. They are very fragile, and already the paintings at the entrance to the cave (now protected by an iron door) have been destroyed by the movement of air in and out of it. Just how fragile can anything BE?!!

The tour lasted about 45 minutes, but felt like only 3 seconds. It was a real highlight of our Ramble. Get over here quicksticks and look for yourself!

More Rambling later

The Rambilng Roses

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