The art of seeing, in the Basilica

The workshop invites you to enter into the world of the men who built Vézelay’s Basilica by means of a simple sketch, or the jotting down of a few words. You will not need to have any particular aptitude for drawing or writing in order to take part in this workshop. Its aim isn’t really one of drawing or writing, but rather one of using words or the stroke of pencil as the means of using one’s powers of observation, so that ‘all those who have eyes may see clearly...’ Van Gogh.

The procedure

Atelier dessin dans la Basilique de Vézelay

To begin with, it’s just a case of looking and receiving…as soon as you step into the building, you are welcomed by the light as it dances all round the sculpted walls of the Basilica. The many-hued stones, soaring angles, the exquisite detail of the vegetal ornamentation, the finely carved folds of stone drapery, a mark etched into the floor by a labourer – all these details catch your eye.

They can serve as words for your eyes, and inspiration for your hand. So take the leisure to allow yourself to really listen deeply, and to be fully and enduringly filled with the treasures of the Basilica. 

Now you can start work. Let the movement of your hand re-transcribe the shapes and the lines, the curves and the planes of light and shade...a dialogue is born between your eyes and hand; the first lines appear on the paper, words make themselves known, and poetry is present where pencil stroke is met by word. At the end of the workshop, everyone pools their sketches, so that you will have the opportunity to exchange viewpoints and impressions.

How the workshop proceeds:

  • Introduction to the experience by the guide who has already made a previous discovery of this kind in the Basilica.
  • Choice of the subject that you wish to re-transcribe in words or images.
  • Individual work in the Basilica for about forty- five minutes
  • Pooling of work at the Visitor’s Centre
  • The workshop concludes with discussion between the participants of the workshop. Time permitting, texts relevant to the art of building will be read out.

Practical Information

The participation in this workshop does not require any particular aptitude for drawing or writing. The aim of the workshop is not to draw or write but rather to use words or the stroke of a pencil in order to exercise the faculties of sight and observation.

Drawing material is provided

The workshop is led by a guide.