From the Ruelle de la Fourdonne, not far from the wood turner's shop in the village of Saint Cirq Lapopie, a beautiful listed building of the thirteenth century is home to a place of work and research for artists from all around the world. The "Maisons Daura" welcome contemporary artists and visitors to an open forum where exchange, friendship and productivity are the norm.
These "Houses for International Artists" were built to be hospices during the thirteenth century. Acquired and lived in for some years by the Catalan artist Pierre Daura, this architectural ensemble was donated to the Midi Pyrenees region by the painter's daughter, Martha. They are now a residence for artists from around the world, all dedicated to contemporary creation and managed by the Georges Pompidou Maison des Arts in Cajarc.
To the memory of Pierre Daura.
The Spanish-born artist studied at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona and made his career in the United States especially in Virginia, where he painted landscapes. Pierre Daura lived in this house from 1930 to 1939 with his wife Louise Blair and his daughter Martha and thereafter spent every summer here until his death in 1976. He was inspired by peace of this medieval village in the Lot valley and was on very friendly terms with all his neighbours including André Breton, the writer and leader of the Surrealist movement. By donating the building to the authorities Martha Daura wished her father's house to be as committed to art as it was in the artist's lifetime.
In 2012, a retrospective was dedicated to Daura at the Rignault Museum entitled "Pierre Daura, an American Catalan in Quercy".
A new identity for a place dedicated to contemporary creation
This remarkable architectural ensemble was restored by the Midi-Pyrenees authorities in 2005 to become a research centre for artistic innovation.
Chaired by a jury, two selections take place each the year to determine the artist residences. The spring jury takes place in the village of St. Cirq Lapopie. Autumn selections are at the Centre of Contemporary Art in Cajarc. It is possible to meet the artists and see their works during the European Heritage Days in the medieval village.
Any art form is accepted and nearly a hundred artists from 18 different nationalities have already stayed for periods of 2 to 5 months discovering the inspiration of the Célé valley in small workshops or working groups.
Experienced and promising artists exhibit their works but above all hope to exchange ideas in an atmosphere of friendliness and reflection.
Seminars or training courses are also scheduled for schools, colleges and art associations to help them discover and share their love of contemporary art whether through paintings, photographs, dance, sculpture, music or other art forms.