Pre Epiphany

Brigitte Picavet interview: Recycling the ‘useless’

Brigitte Picavet interview: Recycling the ‘useless’
  Brigitte Picavet is a textile artist who uses recycling alongside mixed-media techniques. When flicking through the pages of the book, we were struck by her work’s texture and detail, and her clever use of colour.
“We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”
“Of course, thanks to the house, a great many of our memories are housed, and if the house is a bit elaborate, if it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refuges that are all the more clearly delineated. All our lives we come back to them in our daydreams. A psychoanalyst should, therefore, turn his attention to this simple localization of our memories. I should like to give the name of topoanalysis to this auxiliary of pyschoanalysis. Topoanalysis, then would be the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives.”
“Even a minor event in the life of a child is an event of that child’s world and thus a world event”
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The Poetics of Space

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Poetics of Space
The Poetics of Space (French edition).jpg

Cover of the French edition
Author Gaston Bachelard
Original title La Poétique de l’Espace
Translator Maria Jolas
Country France
Language French
Subject Architecture
Genre Philosophy
Publisher Presses Universitaires de France
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print (Hardback &Paperback)
Pages 241
ISBN ISBN 0-8070-6439-4(English edition)

The Poetics of Space (French: La Poétique de l’Espace) is a 1958 book by Gaston Bachelard. Bachelard applies the method of phenomenologyto architecture basing his analysis not on purported origins (as was the trend in enlightenment thinking about architecture) but on lived experience of architecture. He is thus led to consider spatial types such as the attic, the cellar, drawers and the like. Bachelard implicitly urges architects to base their work on the experiences it will engender rather than on abstract rationales that may or may not affect viewers and users of architecture.

Sometimes the house of the future is better built, lighter and larger than all the houses of the past, so that the image of the dream house is opposed to that of the childhood home…. Maybe it is a good thing for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, that we shall not have time to achieve it. For a house that was final, one that stood in symmetrical relation to the house we were born in, would lead to thoughts—serious, sad thoughts—and not to dreams. It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality.

— Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space


Book Of A Lifetime: The Poetics of Space, By Gaston Bachelard

In a tumbledown cottage the wood-cutter’s daughter dreams of life in the palace; in the palace the young prince believes that in a forest hut lives the woman he is destined to love and marry. Folk tales – with their Gothic illustrations – endure through the romance of mountain turrets, forest interiors, lonely cottages, magic casements and secret doors. This is what the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard called “the poetics of space”, and his highly original study of the magical “cosmos” of the childhood home and its imaginary spaces is one of the few literary texts that architectural students are required to read.

In the 20th century, distinctions between public and private space were challenged by rationalist architecture and town planning. Bachelard explored a third kind of space, the “felicitous” space of the home and its domestic menagerie of tables, chairs, cupboards and stairs. He was fascinated by the life-worlds of the attic and the cellar, and their distinctive dreams. That objects embody deep emotional reserves was explored in delightful musical works by Milhaud and Ravel, both of whom, like their compatriot Bachelard, were entranced by the work of poets such as Maeterlinck and Rilke. Not only was small beautiful, but it was more conducive to the imagination.

Architects will tell you that designing intimate buildings is much more difficult than erecting monoliths. Those I have talked to in writing a book about the new hospice movement have employed Bachelard’s vocabulary of intimacy; they have described the need to create distinct psychological thresholds between open and closed, inside and outside, arrival and departure. Places of helpless waiting are re-fashioned in the hospice as places of contemplation and a gathering-in of memory and self-discovery.

Bachelard was a phenomenologist, holding the view that there was a dynamic interplay between an active mind and its surroundings. The house was a theatre, something most people realise when travelling by train through the city at night, seeing lighted interiors. A candlelight in a window was enough to bring a street to life, he wrote. The author of The Poetics of Space showed no interest in buildings other than the domestic house. Most meaningful relationships with buildings take place in domestic space, and this is what modern hospices have sought to emulate. In the Maggie’s Cancer Care centres, the building is designed around the hearth and kitchen table. In the first and last days of life, it is the cosmos of the home that takes on the full weight of human habitation, as retreat and space of belonging. Bachelard’s greatest work remains a compelling reflection on the enduring human need to find psychological refuge in familiar places and spaces, though its author admitted that poets and story-tellers got there first.

Ken Worpole’s ‘Modern Hospice Design: the architecture of palliative care’ has just been published by Routledge


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