French Village – Rugby World cup commission – Alliance Francaise

Hi everyone,

The second blog post that I wanted to put up was about my experiences with the Rugby world cup last year. Specifically a major commission I had with Alliance Francaise to design and then paint a French Village.

Last year I had decided to take the year off studying to do some searching for what I was really interested in and to try my hand at being out in the community working having realized that there was a major event going on in my country with the rugby world cup and that there would be tons of opportunities to get involved and do some serious work.

At first I had thought I would take the laid back approach to the world cup and just volunteer as a spectator services person helping with crowd control and getting involved in this way (which I did as well). But early in the year I had a phone call from my school informing me of another project they had been approached to help with. Turned out this project was the french village project and the company that had approached them was Alliance Francaise, a French language school. A.F. wanted someone to help them design, build, and paint a french village whereby French visitors could come and meet their French students and establish friendships across countries which would directly help their students to hear the accents and different slangs I guess of native French men and women. Why they needed a complete French Village I’m not really sure, but we don’t ask why someone wants something but instead work out how we can fulfill people’s desires. Ultimately I guess it drew attention to their school and drew people in, so their idea was a good one ultimately, although a very big task for someone just out of study with no experience.

Anyway. I set about doing the work, coming up with several designs, budgets, ways to get things done, finding several artists to help me complete the actual work. All the while studying full time at my day to day job with the bank.

Here are some of my initial design ideas, some of which ended up being used directly in the final work.

The arch way didn’t change very much at all from start to finish as the archway in the building resembled the Arc Du triomph so exactly that I couldn’t get past turning it into the literal thing. Originally I was keen on getting as many 3D objects into the design as I could to increase the feeling of walking into the village rather than just viewing the village, and as such had planned to have an artist (Van Gogh) at his 3D easel painting a picture that was half complete on the easel. I only managed to get halfway through the Van Gogh painting before this idea was discarded as there was too much work to do. 

Realizing that I personally would not have as much time as was necessary to paint the entire village myself, I decided to hand over the lead artist position to a ‘friend’ from Toi Whakaari called Violet. She had agreed that, while I would come out on my 2 days a week off from work to help get some work done and also to ensure that the work was progressing as I had planned, that she would lead the painting and ensure that the artists that I had found turned up daily and did the work that was required to keep the job on track.

At first she managed this well enough, but it was clear very early on that she was struggling with the scale of the project compared to her skills and though I kept asking her if she needed help or wanted more support from me her pride kept her from taking up my offers, and she quickly became bored of the project and finding more reasons herself not to be there.

After MANY distressed phone calls from Jean-Victor (the commissioner of the work) as to why VIolet hadn’t shown up, and nor had any other people. I had an urgent meeting with Jean-Victor and made the decision to hire more experienced artists who could paint the work up faster, but would also cost Alliance Francaise A LOT more than had been originally discussed. This all being much to my horror, disgust, and annoyance. I know that the job could have been done in the time frame, and if I could do it all again (especially having gained a lot of experience on this massive project) I would ensure that I had ALL my time dedicated to this one project so that I myself could keep the project to schedule and the painters to task.

Anyone, once we had more artists working on the job I found the project progressed extremely quickly and although pressed for time, and with me pulling lots of “sick” days from work, the project came to a grand completion with myself putting in sometimes 12 hour days despite being sick with the flu and in a cold damp warehouse, sometimes even alone and to be honest scared (cause I’m a wimp).

Here are some images of the painting in progress and the detail in the work. There was A LOT of detail too, because I really wanted it to be something that at first glance you get an impression of the village, but then looking closer more in depth at the work you saw more and more people emerge and each character or building having it’s own character and story with it.

So we had a lot of fun in the end, me realizing how much I love to paint detail, so much so that Roger kept daring me to do smaller and smaller details. as you can see with the bottles of wine on the table he suggested I write labels on each and every one. So I did.

Anyway. The day came and went for the grand unveiling (which I couldn’t be at due to family commitments) and everyone ended up being most pleased with the results. and having visited the village several times I was most pleased with the results too, and proud to have played such a large part of such a cool project! In fact I was stoked when, as I was trying to show my parents the village one weekend, I was asked by some random tourists (actually a few different times this happened) whether I knew where to find the french village! Obviously I had done a good enough job that the world had gone around that this was certainly a sight to see amongst such festivities as the Rugby World cup!

Here are the final results.

What I will say to conclude is that, once all this year’s worth of excitement was over (and yes, it did take a full year to complete) I then went on the volunteer as a spectator services person at several games in the rugby world cup, which I also thoroughly enjoyed, and managed to take part in the victory parade AND touched the REAL Webb Ellis trophy…… Twice. But that is a different story.

About Me

I adore and practise Art and Embroidery. I blog about Art, trying to encourage open communication through the creation of Art and discussion about Art.

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