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  • Writer's pictureWayne Sleeth

Projet57: The Moselle at Metz. From 'door to door'.

At both extremities of the river as it cuts through the heart of the city there are, literally, 'doors'. The Seille tributary joins the Moselle from the south at the impressive 'Porte des Allemands'. And to the north, beyond the Plan d'Eau as you leave Metz on foot, in the water there stands an incongruous element, a japanese Torii. A curious, idle thought that the waters that run here are protected by german and japanese portals!

The former, separating the city quarter of the 'Outre-Seille' from Metz itself beyond the ramparts, was constructed in the 13th century, improved during the Renaissance, and recently renovated. More than a 'porte', even in the sense of a 'gateway', it is more an elaborate set of fortified causeways, a castle of sorts, complete with portcullis and arrow-slit towers.

La Porte des Allemands, Metz

The 'torii ' was built in the 1980s as part of a long season of events celebrating japanese culture, a traditional wooden structure symbolising entry into sacred territory, for example at the entrance to shintoist sanctuaries.

There are also locks ( écluses ) of course along the Moselle, and right here in the city there are two; the old lock house at Pontiffroy, visible from another of my regular sketching spots, on the Pont Saint-Georges, and the picturesque Maison de l'Eclusier, further downstream at the Plan d'Eau...

Top, l - r : vue depuis le Pontiffroy, mixed media A4, et l'ami héron

Bottom, l - r : sketch and watercolour of the Maison de l'Eclusier , both A4

Ruins of Eglise Saint Livier, Pontiffroy, Metz

Metz & la cathédrale St.Etienne seen from Pont St.Georges. Ink drawing A4 and mixed media A4.

Footnote : I usually draw standing up. Between backache from sitting and backache from standing, l prefer the latter. Often, l simply don't have the choice...

Being in and around Metz on an almost-daily basis, l sometimes stop here and just watch the Moselle waters. I realise l work like the river, accelerating, slowing down, meandering. And there are undercurrents, eddies, and sometimes l'm actually heading in two directions at the same time...

But after yet another café chez Momo at the Théâtris, it is time to say goodbye to the heron and move on, following the Moselle north, mostly via the A4 and A31 autoroutes, direction Thionville...


Feb 2024


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