24 August 2015

Martigny: One Town, Two Seasons



In 2014 I made two trips to Switzerland, where I worked on an exhibition hosted by the Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny. The first trip I made was in the winter, returning for my second trip there in the summer. It was wonderful to see the contrast in the seasons in this Alpine town. When not working on the exhibition we explored Martigny and the surrounding valleys and mountains. In the winter we headed up to Trient and Finhaut to catch a glimpse of Mont Blanc and the Trient Glacier, finding ourselves lost amongst the thickest snowdrifts I’ve ever seen. We also explored Saint-Maurice, and motored along the shores of Lake Geneva to Lausanne via Montreux and the beautiful Château de Chillon (see here). This is also the region of Switzerland which is famous for the St Bernard mountain rescue dogs, and Martigny has a wonderful museum and shelter dedicated to these dogs too. In the summer we went to see the lake at Champex-Lac, and ate its famous speciality, Trout Meunière, caught fresh that morning from the lake. The Valais region is a beautiful part of Switzerland. We were made very welcome there by our very generous host, and everywhere we went – with our stumbling attempts at recalling our long forgotten French lessons from our school days – everyone we met was very friendly and kind. And the food and wine of the region were well worth writing home about too.





I also enjoyed wandering around Martigny itself, exploring the market square, the Roman amphitheatre, climbing the tower of La Bâtiaz, and strolling back to our hotel along the River Drance. In doing so I tried to take some photos which echoed the same views which J.M.W. Turner had sketched when he’d visited the town in 1802 (see here). Taking photos which match old views like this, either from sketches, paintings, or from old black and white photographs is something I am very keen on, like history repeating itself, perhaps – but it’s not often that I’ve thought of echoing my own photos. Yet whilst strolling along the River Drance on a wonderfully warm summer's day it struck me that I still had the photos I’d taken whilst walking the same path back in the deep cold of winter stored on my camera, and so, out of curiosity to see how much the place had changed with the turning of the seasons, and to see how closely I could find the self-same spots where I had stood to take those photos with the exact same camera, I set about echoing my own journey of a few months previous. What follows is a photo album of images created by me of one place at two points in time in the same year – a small exercise in a personal micro-history repeating itself.






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Other posts on my travels in Switzerland:




An Album of Photos of my Travels in Switzerland




 This newsreel from 1933 about climbing the Great St Bernard Pass and the region's famous mountain rescue dogs has a brief glimpse of Martigny (at 0.28).  




Motor Racing in Switzerland (1934) - Montreux Grand Prix. The Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny has a fantastic collection of vintage cars.



https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wappen_Martigny.svg




2 comments:

  1. Enjoyed this! I often think of doing something similar in my local park for the four seasons but never quite get round to it. That style of wooden bridges must be popular in Switzerland because I remember the one in Lucerne which is really the only Swiss place I have been to.

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  2. Thanks, Alex. I think you must be right. This one - still very much in use - is big enough for cars going in two directions, and for pedestrians on both sides too. A bit further upstream was a much narrower one for pedestrians only, but roofed over and built in exactly the same style. The one pictured above was probably the main road bridge in Turner's time.

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