The Giroussens Ceramic Centre
The Ceramic Centre reminds us of what first made Giroussens important, the town’s deep understanding of pottery and ceramics. The centre helps us to appreciate the value of this art form, from people working in the tiniest workshops to the most famous contemporary artists.
There are two exhibition spaces that aim to shine a light on the best contemporary ceramics – both national and international. The centre’s artistic committee organises several themed exhibitions each year and also hosts a special event by the ‘Terres et Terres’ association in June, as part of the European Market for Contemporary Ceramics, which takes place throughout the streets and squares of the village.
The centre is accessible for people with reduced mobility. Workshops in pottery, turning, platework, raku firing, and glaze techniques can be organised.
The Bouniol room is a space dedicated to the sculptress Lucie Bouniol, who grew up in Giroussens. The shop sells works from a number of different ceramicists, from one off pieces to objects for everyday use. The bookshop sells a selection of specialist books and magazines and is a distributor of the magazine ‘Revue de la Ceramique et du Verre’.
Montans is an archeological site famous for its production of Gallic and Roman pottery. The town’s Archéosite archeological museum will take you back in time to rediscover an era when this little village was famous throughout the Roman Empire for its production of Samian pottery. These high quality red ceramics were produced on an almost industrial scale here.
The museum contains permanent exhibitions, but also historical reconstructions such as a Roman road, the workshop of a Gallo-Roman potter, and a Samian pottery kiln.
Archéosite also hosts temporary exhibitions, archeological conferences, shows and workshops for young and old alike throughout the year (such as introduction to ceramics, mosaics, weaving, cooking, frescos…)
Every April there is an Antiquity Week, with a historical re-enactment company setting up Gaul and Roman camps in the park and demonstrating battle scenes, games and crafts, and offering interactive workshops.
inVINcible VIGNEron à Broze
The inVINcible VIGNEron has been set up on an old wine estate in Broze. It’s an interesting place, halfway between a conservatoire for winemaking and a wine museum. Back in 1985 its owner, Théo Elzinga, then a winemaker in Nantes, started looking for old tools “to decorate his wine cellar”, and it became a real passion for him.
In 2013 he sold his business and after meeting François Rouillard, another collector who’d been running the Museum of Ancient Crafts in Vindrac for some time, he decided to move to the Gaillac area. All he had to do then was to install his fabulous collection of winemaking tools from the 18th to the mid-20th century. Some say it’s the best in Europe.
Théo Elzinga acts as storyteller when he guides you through this treasury of tools. For him, the collection is not an end in itself. He wants to explain the tools’ uses and to share his passion. Apart from being the treasury of a tenacious collector who loves tools, inVINcible VIGNEron is a tribute to work, to invention, and to mankind’s genius in being able to adapt, create new tools, find solutions, and bounce back from problems like the phylloxera blight that ravaged three-quarters of France’s vineyards in the 1880s.
The name of Théo Elzinga’s museum/conservatoire really sums up this attitude: vineyards, wine, the battling winemaker, optimism… invincibility.
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