big picture Provides new Writers' retreat centre in the Bordeaux vineyards
The Big Picture office has moved to Caussarieu (right), a property with acres of gardens, forest, nature reserve and river-frontage outside Sauternes, in the Bordeaux vineyard region. Hoffman is providing a retreat and work centre there for writers and thinkers. Part of the land is a nature reserve that's being Rewilded in partnership with the French Environment Agency.
The property has been called Caussarieu for centuries. In the old Occitan language still spoken by some locally, it means Bridge over the River. It's a place for recharging one's batteries, to help us all tackle the problems that society faces in the times ahead. For many around the world today, free thought and dialogue lead to prison and torture. In the West, free voices of tolerance are being drowned out by louder forces. Free thought and speech are fundamental to the human endeavour, so Caussarieu Writers’ Centre supports PEN International, Free Word and the Cities of Refuge network. Hoffman is currently writing a book at Caussarieu for Routledge publishers about the reception of refugees worldwide.
At Caussarieu, Hoffman’s Big Picture collaborators are hosted for free, to dialogue about shared projects and recharge their batteries. See below for Writers’ Residencies already underway. From summer 2019, anyone else can come independently too, whether to work on a project of their own or just for an independent holiday in your own accommodation at the Caussarieu property. Rates will always be reasonable - it's not a for-profit venture. Get in touch any time to enquire about visiting, prices or availability.
Have a glance below at the grounds, the main house, the 2 bedroom villa, the 3-bedroom timber chalet by the pool and the little artist studios. Options will range from self-catering groups of up to 6, to individuals who come alone to write, rest, think, meditate, chill out, make art - whatever you do. Table d'Hote - sociable evening meals of French cuisine - will be available poolside at affordable rates.
Walking and cycling trails stretch from the property for miles into the forest. The beach on the right is 25 minutes away. The venues in the slideshow’s last four photos below (like the world-famous Chateau Yquem, right) are 5 to 15 minutes away. All other photos are of the property itself.
Note that the art-works in the pictures below - plus dozens of others on display at the property - have been gifted by Bordeaux artist Marie-Anne Bernaulte, who painted there for almost three decades before selling the property to the Hoffmans.
Now painting at the coast in Bordeaux, Marie-Anne will be back at times to chat with guests about her artistic process and to look together at the many works she created at Caussarieu. She is seated on the left here at the dinner in the Sauternes vineyard where she transferred the keys of Caussarieu to the Hoffmans.
inaugural Writers’ Residencies at Caussarieu
Caussarieu celebrated its inaugural Writer’s Residency by hosting oral historian Norma Buckley (right). Norma came from rural Ireland to work for a week with Hoffman on their forthcoming book together, Thine Eyes of Mercy Towards Us - The Spirituality of an Irish Village.
At 77, Norma is a celebrated oral historian and heritage activist in North Cork, Ireland. Her community videos on landscape heritage are hosted by the National Museum of Ireland - see www.ouririshheritage.org/content/archive/place/miscellaneous-place/pilgrim-path-doonpeter-glenville
She was a contributor to the Atlas of the Irish Famine, published worldwide by University College Cork (and held on display at the White House in the USA!). After a mature student diploma in Environment Studies at the National University of Ireland, Norma spent many years on the Board of the state-run Blackwater Resource Development agency in southern Ireland.
Norma has won numerous European Union grants for heritage restoration in her local community of Glenville. Her work has helped preserve the built environment - rebuilding stone walls, reopening forgotten roads and paths, renovating and protecting ancient sites of worship in the landscape, commissioning new heritage signage, and creating a community forest… She also restores intangible heritage by recording folklore, giving heritage talks in schools and creating exhibitions and displays on issues like the Irish Famine, colonialism and the return of Irish migrants and their descendants. For Norma’s latest short film, produced by her heritage colleague Tony Kennedy, see www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNuNv67Z_T8
The next Writer’s Residency, in December 2018, will host Madeleine Achard (left), playwright and director of Embarcadere Theatre company from Leucate in Mediterranean France. Madeleine will recharge her batteries at Caussarieu over Christmas, after a successful run of her latest theatre production, Les Cles du Chateau - a processional, outdoor performance of the medieval and feminist heritage of Leucate.
In Spring 2019, Caussarieu will host Dr Mark Singleton, a Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Economics (right). Mark is a leading academic expert on the history of mind-body well-being practices and spiritual traditions involving the body. He will come to work with Hoffman on the English translation of Savoir-faire des Anciens. This new version will include extensive resources and practical advice contributed by Mark on living a permaculture lifestyle wherever you are.
Meanwhile medical scientist Dr Richard Hoffman, University of Hertfordshire (left), will be resident regularly, working on his forthcoming book More Healthy Years. Marella Hoffman’s husband and co-creator of the Caussarieu centre, he’s the author of The Mediterranean Diet - Health and Science and numerous articles in the scientific and popular press on health through diet. A former leader of cancer researcher at one of the world’s leading research institutes - the Medical Research Council at Cambridge University - his work has featured regularly in the British Medical Journal. His articles for the public, demystifying healthy eating and drinking, have attracted over half a million readers - why not join in the conversation yourself here at The Conversation ?
Provisional plans are for an ensuing Writer’s Residency by Dr Amy Sullivan from Macalester College, Minneapolis, USA (below, left). At Caussarieu, She will take a break from lecturing to finish her forthcoming book on the opioid addiction crisis. Amy is also developing an online archive of audio interviews, artifacts, and ephemera related to the history of opioid use, abuse, treatment and recovery in Minnesota. http://amycsullivan.net/mnopioidproject/
Amy will be followed by the widely-published oral historian Nancy Mackay, editor of the Practicing Oral History series at Routledge and Reviews Editor for the American Oral History Association (above, right). A frequent visitor to Europe, Nancy’s home base is in Berkeley, California.
After Nancy, the next Writer in Residence may be the 17-year-old Dublin poet and political activist Lucy Ording (pictured, right). See a video of some of her political reporting work here.
Click on the pins to visit the Centre’s buildings and walks.