The Loaded Trunk was founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.
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The beautiful village of Roussillon stands apart from the other villages in the Luberon because it sits on land streaked with russet red, mustard and apricot. And all the homes and buildings in the village glow in these same brilliant hues. A geologic phenomenon formed this land, full of ochre… the ochre earth of Roussillon. Standing on the edge of the village, on a cliff, one can look out upon the first ochre quarries in the area, which were carved out 2,000 years ago. Roussillon is the world capital of ochre!
Ochre has been used in the decorative arts for thousands of years. During prehistoric times, people used it to make cave paintings. The Egyptians used ochre to decorate tombs. Artists during the Renaissance used ochre to paint frescoes. It is even used in body art by ethnic tribes in Africa.
Jean Etienne Astier, a native of Roussillon, discovered in 1780 that processing ochre resulted in a non-toxic dye. Thus began the industrial production of ochre. Did you know that the pigment from ochre was used to make stucco, which sheathes many Provençal homes, due to its sun and heat-resistant qualities? Hence, the reason we associate the villages of Provence with these warm sunset colors. As the industry died out, the ochre quarries were left abandoned.
Artists have long been drawn to the region to use extracted ochre pigments in their art. One can often find an artist set up somewhere in the village plein air painting. A small shop in town sells paint pigments in a multitude of hues, made from the ochre earth.
Nature lovers are delighted to know that there is an unusual collection of flora and fauna growing in this small area that thrives in the ochre-rich soil, including 26 varieties of wild orchids, which don’t grow elsewhere in Provence!
Gazing at this unique landscape, one can almost imagine oneself standing in a landscape painting created by nature. Shades of rich earthy red, rosy pink, bronzed orange and golden yellow contrast with the azure blue sky and rich verdant green of the oak and pine trees… a glorious color palette indeed, plucked right from the terrain of Roussillon.
June 21, 2023
The Loaded Trunk is a travel and lifestyle magazine founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.