Switzerland; from Vevey to Montreux (Jazz)
As much as I really want to avoid this post sounding like a travel blog it’s extremely difficult not to whilst sat underneath some palm trees in the garden of my partners family home, on a chaise longue, sipping ice tea in thirty eight degree sunshine. Switzerland?! I hear you cry, that tax haven full of rich people, cheese and ski slopes. It’s true you do not have to search far to unearth such cliches, however La Riviera, the towns between Montreux and Vevey by the Lac Léman, boasts a lot more than that. I arrived at the right time also, to one of Switzerland’s biggest heatwaves for decades.
I’ve been fortunate enough to explore this stunning part of the world four times in the past two years. Spending last Christmas here amongst working and visiting my girlfriend Nada’s family over the previous summer. I’m also extremely lucky enough to have an excellent tour guide in Nada and her friends.
On this particular trip we spent our time riding around on Nada’s moped at alarming speed taking snaps of this fantastic area. My aim was to cover some of the more creative and unusual sides of Switzerland and report back to all of you lovely readers at Bristol art collective.
Before coming this year Nada insisted that we were to go to the world famous two week long, Montreux Jazz Festival, while we were there and watch Alabama Shakes and Paolo Nuttini. Needless to say, I was in! My initial experience of the festival began well, besides the stuffy, crowded, yet free bus ride to Montreux.
We arrived on site to an extremely clean and what looked like a very well run festival. Stretching along the majority of the lake that fronts this town were tons of amazing food stalls each of them suspended over the lake on temporary terraces. Over the buzz of the crowd I just kept saying to Nada over and over again about the cleanliness of the place as I was used to our grubbier British festivals and she kept reluctantly agreeing. Thinking she may know something I didn’t, I stopped talking about it.
Towards the end of the evening and many beers later we decided to leave but we both needed the toilet. Nada quickly dragged me through the crowds to the nearest porta loo. I went in first as I was busting and again I was amazed by how clean it was. I finished up, stepped out of the toilet and felt a sqwelch under my trainers. Shit! I’d only gone and stood in a used sanitary pad. Whilst I used the pavement to scrape the blood covered towel off my shoe I told Nada it was time to go home (and wash my shoes).
The following week we returned to the festival for the gig and it was nothing short of glorious. Unfortunately for you guys I was having too much fun and didn’t get any good photographs.
Been there, done that, Nada got the tshirt.
After getting over the night before I was keen to set out and find some of Switzerlands famous graphic design. After a good hunt around Vevey it was proofing quite the challenge. We even struggled to find books on the subject in the local book shops.
So maybe it was a case of looking more closely into the streets. We wandered through the Old town of Vevey in search of some old signage and/or murals. What we found was extraordinary. Some of Vevey’s hidden gems of design lost but not yet quite forgotten.
Whilst there was clear evidence that there was a healthy hand painted sign trade here, this sadly is no more. Some of the work that had gone into these signs from the crafted iron to the gilding techniques was outstanding and a real shame to think the craft in this area is on its way out.
Less to be said of the Graff scene. Which is apparent, but in funny little doses.
You really don’t have to look far for murals though. Most of the towns on la Riviera have huge pieces adourning the walls. From works about Charlie Chaplin (as he used to live locally) and other real examples of swiss style design.
On the whole then, a fantastic trip away. Having explored Lausanne on its artistic beauty and producing a piece for our recent group show at the steam crane I feel that maybe it had a little more to offer in terms of its design. Or maybe it’s just that we need to look harder into our surroundings to find inspiration, if you look hard enough you can find inspiration anywhere.
Words & Photos By Bruce Crowes.