This book is an ode to his beloved pied-à-terre in which his watercolours, sketches, crayon, oil and woodcuts capture the quirks and eccentricities that make rural French life so beguiling. Mapping out the village sights and introducing us to its most prominent characters, Cole’s sketches and the text exudes a warmth and humour that will made you fall in love with la France profonde all over again.
GET TO KNOW Saint-Geoire-en-Valdaine in the foothills of the Alps through the eyes of an artist.
Richard Cole has captured every aspect, from the weekly market to the boulanger and the café bar in the village’s central square.
His very first visit was as an art student. Fast forward 50 years and Richard can count many of the subjects as close personal friends. He continues to go back and forward to France as often as work will allow. We can assume it happens fairly often.
Though he didn’t know it at the time, one of the buildings ( a 16th century forge ) that he painted on a trip back in 1981 eventually became his studio and living quarters. Shops may have come and gone, but many places and faces have become immortalised in this book.
The scenes of locals playing boules or selling cheese will be familiar to most. But the chance to see inside the Palais de Justice during a trial – especially, when cameras and photographers were not allowed – is new.
You’ll find Cole’s work among some prestigious public collections, including at The British Museum and The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It’s a real treat to take some home for closer inspection at a pace befitting of a rural village.
French Entrée Magazine.
Richard Cole is best known as a caricaturist, political cartoonist and reportage artist, having worked for many of our national newspapers as well as for TV news programmes. In this book he uses his talents to portray Saint geoire en valdaine and its inhabitants, an Isère village he has visited for 50 years. He relates his personal anecdotes about village life, illustrated by intimate pictures of the houses and people. Some are oil paintings, others sketches, woodcuts and watercolours – all are enchanting.
A unique and delightful addition to the genre of books on the bucolic character of rural France, and derives its special character from the artist’s drawings of country characters and street scenes.
The creator of the atmospheric drawings and paintings is Richard Cole, an English caricaturist and political cartoonist who first visited the isolated village of Saint-Geoire-en-Valdaine, in the foothills of the Alps at the age of 20 and now has a home and studio in a 16th century building that had been the village forge. Being around for 50 years has given him an intimacy with the village and its inhabitants that no visiting travel writer or photographer could possibly achieve.
His pictures of people and places, and their accompanying stories, portrays a lifestyle that still exists in rural France but disappeared in England 80 years ago, with the difference of a public health service that is the pride of the French state.
The country French also have a delightful indifference to material possessions: a new Mercedes outside your door will not even be noticed (except by visiting Parisians) whereas a good tomato crop will earn great respect.
Richard Cole’s book really is the next best thing to being there.
Caroline Jowett, The Daily Express.