Swan Scalabre and her husband will not have waited for lockdown to change their lives. In 2016, the two Parisians and their daughters left the capital to settle in the South-West, between Gers and Tarn-et-Garonne. Swan then reconnects with her first love and devotes herself to painting, while Gaëtan decides to open a village grocery store. Seven years later, the family lives happy days in their countryside to the rhythm of the seasons and the inspirations.
Swan is partly inspired by her daily life to lay pastoral miniatures and portraits of women on wood frames that seem to emerge from another era. After a rich and eclectic city life, the young woman and her husband decided to leave Paris to offer their daughters Céleste and Astrée a healthy and peaceful Lifestyle. Since 2016, everyone has flourished in this rural setting without ever missing the city. Swan tells us about her journey and reveals her daily life, between creation and rurality. A universe tinged with bucolic poetry, perhaps inspired by her first name Swan, straight from Tchaïkovski ballet.
Swan, can you tell us about your life until you moved to Occitania?
"I was born in Aix-en-Provence where I lived for a very short time. My parents lived a bohemian life there, but we went to live in Paris when I was very young. I attended all my schooling there and studied at the Beaux-Arts with Annette Messager and Tony Brown. I was lucky enough to be able to continue my course at Los Angeles CalArts and then to Bejing.
Back in France, I did not embrace a purely artistic career at all. I first worked as an artistic director in fashion. Then, I had the opportunity to work for Canal+, where I hosted a show called "CANAILLE+". I designed and presented green DIY subjects (before time!) for children. I then shared my creations and tips to adults on the channel MAISON+."
How was born the desire to leave this Parisian life to settle in the countryside?
" After the birth of our two daughters, my husband and I began to experience nature cravings. The 2015 Paris terrorist attacks were the catalyst for this great change. We wanted to provide a safer environment for our children who were then 4 and 8 years old. In three weeks, we packed up! We chose Gers because we had family there."
Can you describe your house to us? What is your favorite room?
" We fell in love with this typically Gascon house just before lockdown. We loved its authenticity, its square architecture and its large wooded lot. It was in a state of abandonment and we had to redo everything with the help of local craftsmen: the installation of custom-made wooden windows, the installation of an insert, the upgrading of electricity. ... all the joys of renovating a country house. It is decorated with a mixture of both classic and warm antique furniture and various works of art.
Of course, the studio is my favorite room. It's sort of my boudoir, an intimate cocoon where you are asked to knock before entering, and where animals are not allowed to come! I spend long hours there. I like its waves, its organization, its smells and its view of the park."
Can you describe your neo-country routine to us?
" In the morning, I take the girls to school, which is half an hour's drive from home. We chose this establishment and the journey is not at all a problem because it allows me to admire the sunrise and the sublime landscapes. The first morning light is also a source of inspiration for my painting of the day. When I get home from school, I relight the fire, I take care of the animals, I make myself a coffee and then I settle in the studio where I paint all day while listening to music or a podcast. I then have lunch with my husband and then I go back to painting until it's time to pick up the girls from school. On our return, a second day begins: taking care of homework, preparing dinner but also chopping wood with my husband... a simple and rural life!"
What are the advantages and disadvantages of your life in the countryside?
" We traded stress, traffic jams and pollution for calm and greenery! We have space and plenty of animals. In the morning before going to school, the girls fetch fresh eggs from the chicken coop. It's amazing!
Furthermore, we are not at all isolated. The Internet is a real luxury that allows me to exhibit and sell my paintings all over the world from my village! And the area is filled with people from all walks of life.
For now, I don't see any downsides to this lifestyle; we will see the management of the girls' studies when the time comes. On the health side, we make appointments with specialists in a big city if necessary! Before our departure, everyone warned us against the winter test! It's been seven years since we left Paris and winter is absolutely no problem! We have no regrets to have left on the contrary. We are happy to have offered this living environment to our children!"
What are your favorite Gers addresses that you recommend to Mastic readers?
" In Lectoure, my favorite addresses are the thrift store La Divine Comédie to hunt for clothes, decorative objects and furniture, and the concept store and coffee shop Galerie Nationale where you can find fashion items, especially kimonos. On the food side, I like the Racine restaurant and the organic bread from La Ferme de Malaubric.
In Saint Clar, I like the Croq la Vie concept store, which is both a tea room and a fashion and decoration boutique. I like the Musée de l’Ecole Publique located in a magnificent bastide; the museum houses a collection of school and educational materials staged in an authentic scenography. And of course, I recommend my husband's two grocery stores - Monsieur l'Epicier - located in each of the villages."
Which Instagram accounts inspire you?
" I really like decoration and architecture accounts. In particular, I like the Lifestyle concept store @lamaisonjaune_sault which brings together a decoration boutique and an art gallery in Provence. I am also the very nice account @deco-for-curious which mixes furniture and old paintings, @the.real.maggie.sheperd source of very British classic inspiration and the account of the interior designer Nikki Renshaw which gathers its sources inspiration on his account @englisheccentrichome. I am also @lamanufactureroyaledelectoure where I organized an exhibition last weekend.
Spring 2023: exhibition in New-York
July 2023: Galerie de l'Arcade in Saint Clar
August 2023: Galerie l'Oeil du Prince in Biarritz
picture credits © swan scalabre