Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we like to find out why she lives in this beautiful region, what she does for a living, and some of her Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet the multi-creative Frédérique Jacob as Ramoneta of the Month. Besides being an artist herself, she also teaches various art techniques in an open and inspiring way at Studio Quatorze in La Redorte.
I was born in the French department of Bourgogne, and then I moved around a lot. I went to the Higher Institute of Fine Arts in Mulhouse, Alsace. And every year, I did an exchange programme with an art school in England, where I met my partner, Colin. Since graduating, I have always worked in the creative field, designing baby clothes and stocking patterns, screen-printing and creating logos and teaching. I continued to develop my own practice as an artist in ceramics, painting and drawing. It allows me to mix techniques, which I like. I still work that way, picking and combining techniques depending on how I feel.
First time visiting the region
My partner and I had a project in mind where we could combine working, living and receiving students. He was already familiar with the region, and we narrowed our search to the triangle between Béziers, Narbonne and Carcassonne. We were looking for a village where people live all year round and a house which could fit all our requirements. In the end, it took about a year to find the perfect match in La Redorte (1), and we moved about four years ago.
Settling in Languedoc
The house needed- and still needs- a lot of work to make it workable for the project and livable in. We love to renovate ourselves and, little by little, transform the house to our own needs. The studio spaces are already done and offer enough space both to create our own work and receive students. We’re both artists (2), and it’s such a pleasure to finally have room for a proper art studio. It makes creativity following our own practices as artists easier.
For the moment, we are living in the part of the house that will be the gîte as we are still renovating our living space. But the idea is to create a holiday house suitable for four people, perfect for students who have booked a workshop at our art studio.
A year and a half ago, we opened our studios to other people. In the first place, Studio Quatorze (3 & 4) is our place of work. But we also offer various courses and open workshops. You can see the planning on our Facebook page. During the year, we organise a weekly art group, a children’s art group and a pottery group for adults. During the holidays, we propose a variety of artistic activities. For example, life drawing, watercolour painting, specialist pottery techniques, printmaking and more. All our courses and workshops are about having fun. You don’t have to be experienced to explore new techniques. It’s so gratifying to try different art disciplines, both for amateurs and more professional artists. And that’s what we hope to share with our students.
On top of our courses, we also enjoy setting up events and outside interventions, like our ‘aquavin’ events with nearby wine estates, where we paint with pigments made out of wine. We have created a range of ‘tones’ from an orangey colour to red and violet ones, which can be used like watercolour to paint with. Sometimes our trials work well, and sometimes they work less well but it’s always fun to try. Besides working with more traditional processes – painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture, we also have a digital studio where we design for fabric and wallpaper. We also have a digital photography and film studio. I have picked up teaching again, not at a college, like I used to do, but at two nearby municipal associations.
Living in the South of France
When we moved here, we started from zero, which was quite a big change. The children had left the nest and here we had to build up our lives with just the two of us. So far, I haven’t had any regrets or bad surprises since the move. I like Languedoc as it attracts many people from outside this region. In my opinion, it makes them more open and curious. Also, I feel less stressed because of the lack of deadlines. La Redorte is a nice village along the Canal du Midi (5) but without the tourism. It has everything we need, and we love to go for a stroll along the canal.
Best Languedoc wine
Coming from Bourgogne, another important wine region, I have to say that I haven’t found my reference in Languedoc yet. However, I do like this region’s white wines, especially the ‘moelleux’, or the more fruity and sweet ones.
La Redorte has a lovely port along the Canal du Midi, and my favourite restaurant sits right there on the banks. Le Spot (6) has recently been taken over by someone from this area, but who has travelled the world. And you can taste this in his dishes, which are fresh and simple. He calls his restaurant a ‘cave à vin’ and a ‘cave à manger’, so a place where you can have good wine and good food.
Perfect day out in Languedoc
The older I get, the more pleasure I see in the simple things of life. My perfect day takes place outside, that’s for sure. Maybe a little walk and meet up with friends. Or I like to discover something new, like the Oppidum d’Ensérune. The recently renovated archaeology museum is worth a visit. And the view over the dried-up lake of Montady with its remarkable wedge-shaped fields is impressive. That’s my perfect day: nothing special, just something that creates a nice memory.