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From Diane and Martin's Trip to Paris 2012


  • On our last trip to France we spent our first seven days in Paris living out of an apartment attached

    to the Baschet Brothers workshop on the Rue Jean de Beauvais in the Fifth Arrondissement. A

    decade or so ago the workshop was divided into two, creating a separate living quarters which

    became our abode for a week.

  • From the Diary of Diane Gardiner (abridged)

    In the courtyard outside our modest bohemian door lie cobblestones that would have been laid centuries ago.

    In this amazing apartment on the ground floor of this ancient building complex there is a loft where we sleep

    and traversing two floors, floor to ceiling, is the most amazing book shelf housing a collection from biology

    texts to comic books. Philosophy, religion, great fiction , art, all well thumbed. Volumes around the seven foot

    mark and upwards can be accessed by the whimsically placed builders ladder abandoned against the stack.

    Truly thought provoking titles but as my laziness will dictate I wont get even a dozen pages into anything

    whilst Im here, although Im utterly intrigued by a book on Wilhelm Reich, one of many in English amongst the

    ocean of French spines.

    The kitchen is small without need for extravagance; it reminds me of the sort of kitchen you might find in a

    caravan or an old holiday house on the coast. However the most striking thing about the apartment is art and

    placement of it around the spaces. It strikes me that whoever occupies this apartment and places the art has no

    inhibition about allowing art to reflect their mood. It is all about self-expression. In my world, art is placed

    about like furniture, making sure it fills a blank wall or blends well with the rug. It is not often you see art for

    the sake of art being displayed without censure in a living space. I am trying to unravel the mystery of who this

    occupant is by the book collection and the random smattering of art. ...oh, and the tiny shower that turns me

    into a hunchback. He, if he exists, is a most interesting creature.

    The pad was split in two levels, actually more like one and a half. The loft had a double bed, a shower, a toilet,

    a bidet and a sink. The lower level had everything else.

  • Some Baschet light fittings.

  • Saturday 13/10/2012

    Anyway, off to the Louvre. We must have walked ten kilometres by the time wed arrived back and within a few

    minutes of being back in the flat there is a knock at the door. It is a wrinkled charming old man with a friendly

    face and wild hair. This is Antonio from the note with the key. He cordially invites us to feast with himself and

    the owner of the apartment in the adjoining studio. 15 minutes. Just bring some wine. Cant refuse this so we

    buy a nice bottle and rap on the door. Inside is a workshop filled with tools, half made sculpture abandoned or

    disassembled works - every square inch cluttered with a story of impulsive creativity. Hidden in a corner is a

    makeshift kitchenette and a large jolly man stirring a giant pot. Smells fantastic. In front of us maybe six or

    seven people chopping salads, pouring wine, peeling modest cheese wheels, assembling assorted eclectic

    drinking glasses, and mismatched cutlery. As we awkwardly introduce ourselves more people arrive. Wobbly

    old chairs appear from ceiling spaces and eventually the feast begins. The table is surrounded by artists, a

    singer, musicians, dancer from the Opera, professor of science from the Sorbonne. These are just the ones we

    conversed with. At times out of kindness the artist on my left made a translation for us. And Martine our

    science professor would give some commentary to help us get to know the enigmatic characters around the


    The Saturday meal commenced around 2pm and went on till at least 5pm. It was a tradition which began in

    the 1950s when artists could come along once a week and share in the Baschet experience, thus meaning that

    the rest of the time the brothers could work without curious interruption. Previous attendees of this event

    include Pablo Picasso and the Happy Hooker, but this meal we shared with actors, painters, scientists, writers,

    and others. One lady was at the time in a production at the Opera House and recited one of her monologues,

  • which was apparently apt at the time although we never understood why. It was a different lady who told me

    there is more to French than saying Oui and nodding. I had no comeback to that, other than the obvious.

    Martin Kaye.


    There are plenty of links on YouTube relating to the Cristal, some showing amazing performances.

    Photography and artwork by Diane Gardiner and Martin Kaye

  • Baschet Poster by Martin Kaye

    The Cristal Baschet - photo by Tonamel