A chat with... Florence Cathiard, Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Bordeaux J'Adore - - Châteaux Tours -

The sym­me­try be­tween wine and art is an­other com­pelling draw for these clients, a con­vic­tion cham­pi­oned by châteaux-own­ers such as Florence Cathiard of Smith Haut Lafitte. We met to dis­cuss her duel pas­sions of art and wine.

What was the cat­a­lyst for the ar­rival of art­work in your vineyards?

Sculp­tures started to ap­pear amongst the vines of our château over 10 years ago, the first ar­rival was a gi­ant bronze hare by Barry Flana­gan. Of­ten it is as re­sult of per­sonal en­coun­ters that either my hus­band Daniel or I have had with an artist. Some­times we com­mis­sion work, as was the case with the metal­lic sphere by Chuck Hober­man

which spreads out like a vine flower trans­form­ing into a grape.

Tell us about your project which fea­tures work from lo­cal artists?

We wanted to ex­tend the area for ex­hibit­ing art­work into the for­est border­ing our vineyards and so we in­au­gu­rated the Land’art path in June 2017. Spread across 8 hectares of wood­land, it in­cludes sculp­tures by Du­rante & Se­gond and Vin­cent Mauger, all com­pletely ex­posed to the el­e­ments. De­signed to ap­peal to the 5 senses, visi­tors are ac­tively en­cour­aged to play mu­sic on the wooden struc­tures of Jose Le Piez’s ‘Is­land of Sounds’. Like­wise the witch’s stone seat from the Lan­des for­est and its mossy sur­round­ings are too tempt­ing not to touch.

How do you en­sure that the art­work in­te­grates with the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment?

On the Land’art path, the artists are free to choose the lo­ca­tions for their mas­ter­pieces. The ‘Vor­tex’ spi­der web is hid­den in the trees, but some such as ‘La Bac­cha­nte’ are not so easy to miss. The rusty gi­ant safety pin, in the form of the ‘Gen­er­a­tion Gap’ by David Mid­dle­brook blends well with the wooden win­ery where grapes from younger vines are vini­fied. Oth­ers such as the bronze struc­ture of crin­kled pa­per by Wang Du are deliberately placed so as to be thought-pro­vok­ing.

How do you align your col­lec­tion of sculp­tures with your ac­tiv­ity of pro­duc­ing wine?

We be­lieve that there are many con­nec­tions to be made be­tween wine con­nois­seurs who also en­joy art and art lovers who ap­pre­ci­ate wine. Ex­pos­ing the art­work in a type of open air mu­seum al­lows us to also make a link with the phi­los­o­phy of the wine­mak­ing at Château Smith Haut Lafitte – re­spect for the en­vi­ron­ment and bio­di­ver­sity. Dur­ing the “When art meets vines” tour, visi­tors walk through the grav­elly vine­yard plots of Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon and learn about their life­cy­cle, all the while pass­ing sculp­tures. The un­guided tour of the Land’art path cul­mi­nates at the Scented Gar­den and the Tisanerie (a fra­grant store­room for dried plants such as net­tle and chamomile) which helps to ex­plain the bio­dy­namic prac­tices we are adopt­ing to treat our vines. Of course, visi­tors on both of these tours taste our wines at the end!

PHOTO QUENTIN SALINIER

Florence Cathiard.

PHOTO R. VALERIO

Sphère by Jordi, at the start of the Land’art path at Château Smith Haut Lafitte.

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