The City of Poitiers becomes the second French city in the ICORN network.
- The agreement with Poitiers was already signed in March 2018 after many fruitful talks, and we had the great pleasure of the company of Jean-Marie Compte and Hélène Amblès representing the City of Poitiers as a full member during the ICORN General Assembly in Malmö in early May, says Helge Lunde, Executive Director of ICORN. We are excited to be part of the ambitious cultural project that the City of Poitiers has initiated with the Villa Bloch residence, and are certain that writers and artists will find rest and respite, as well as inspiration to continue their work in the environment offered by the city.
A window to the world
One year ago, the Mayor of Poitiers, Alain CLAEYS asked the Chief Executive Officer of Culture and Heritage, Hélène AMBLÈS to create a project for a particular property owned by the City, previously owned by a French writer and intellectual, Jean-Richard BLOCH.
Jean-Richard BLOCH was born in 1884, and came to live in Poitiers in 1908 when he became a French teacher. He bought the property called “La Mérigote”, and lived there for nearly 40 years.
He was a writer, a journalist and a committed pacifist. He wrote nearly all his works in this place and he said that this house was “a window to the world”. In this house, he invited a lot of families, friends and artists.
His house became home to many artists, writers and intellectuals throughout the years, many of whom were fleeing from wars and persecution in their own countries.
The City of Poitiers bought the property in 2005 and made a commitment to the sellers to develop a cultural project there, which will pay tribute to Jean-Richard BLOCH, and assure the sustainability of the house and the preservation of the heritage.
The Villa Bloch Project
In honor of Jean-Richard Bloch’s memory, the City of Poitiers is creating an artistic environment that respects his ideals, and that will be used for artistic works, and, in the same time, to offer safe haven for these artists to live and work in peace. The property is composed of a vast, beautiful mature garden, with a manor house and a smaller house. It will be a place of residence for four artists and writers.
The manor house will be able to receive two artists and one writer. Each of them will have a room and a workshop, and they will share the kitchen and the living room. The smaller house can be used to accommodate foreign artists at risk and possibly their family.
For the implementation of the project, as well as joining the International Cities of Refuge Network, the City of Poitiers will organize events and projects with the local, national and international actors.
The first partners of the Villa Bloch project are La Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, the Ecole Européenne Supérieure de l’Image, the University of Poitiers and the association Le Toit du Monde.
Poitiers, member of ICORN
Alain CLAEYS, Mayor of Poitiers, says:
Becoming a member of ICORN is the best way to honor Jean-Richard BLOCH, because he hosted many foreign artists at risk during his time at “La Mérigote”,
Our membership to ICORN will anchor the loyalty to the spirit of Jean-Richard BLOCH, who worked all his life towards the defense of the freedom of expression, and will offer Poitiers a new cultural opening on the world.
It is a great honor for Poitiers to be a member of ICORN and to be the second French city to do so, after Paris.
We look forward to the inauguration of the Villa Bloch that will take place on the 9th February 2019.