Did the much-vaunted attractiveness of the west coast influence the jury for the Pèlerin Prize for regional heritage books, which has been rewarding the work of independent publishers for four years? The fact is that our two 2023 winning works deal with heritage well anchored on the edge of the Atlantic: Work clothes in Brittany – national winner – and Seaside houses in Charente-Maritime – Nouvelle-Aquitaine winner.
We owe it to the Breton Coop Breizh to publish the magnificent summation on the evolution of work clothes, signed Pascal Aumasson, former curator, among others, of the Port-museum of Douarnenez (Finistère). “It is a book that is both exciting and innovative,” notes Philippe Bonnet, heritage curator and member of the jury. Served by spectacular iconography, contemporary or from archives, it shows how clothes, initially designed to facilitate work, have become over the years emblematic of a region, and how these symbols of identity have in turn inspired today’s designers.” “The work combines ethnological, historical and heritage approaches,” adds Sophie Laurant, senior history reporter at the editorial office of Pilgrim.
A new addition to our book selections, Coop Breizh is a real institution in Brittany. Founded in 1957 to disseminate Breton culture, this cooperative based in Finistère has been publishing books since the 1980s. “Until now, we had only dealt with costumes from Breton regions: ceremonial clothes and headdresses, underlines Daniel Le Teu, its director. Work clothing has been largely forgotten. This book also allows us to update the vision of the territory and its culture.” “By approaching men as closely as possible through their work clothes, our national winner perfectly illustrates the conviction of our weekly: heritage is first and foremost and always a human story,” underlines Catherine Lalanne. , editor-in-chief at Pilgrim and creator of this prize.
The houses on the coast
After work… vacation, embodied by the other winning book Nouvelle-Aquitaine: Seaside houses – Modernity and regionalism in Charente-Maritime (1945-1980), by Gilles Ragot. Under this austere title is revealed a fascinating inventory of all the styles of architecture deployed along the Charentais coast, from the most avant-garde to the simplest. “The modernization of Royan, ravaged by the Allied bombings of April 1945, has already been widely commented on. But the work of Gilles Ragot extends to the entire Côte de Beauté the identification of the countless houses which democratized, during the Thirty Glorious, the ideal of the seaside villa”, comments Christophe Lucet, daily editorialist South West and member of our jury. “The gaiety and fantasy which accompany these buildings are immediately striking in this work,” adds the biographer and art historian Alain Vircondelet, member of the jury. These villas relate, in their own way, the mentalities of the post-war period. : need for an accessible dream, desire to reconnect with the simple pleasures of the beach, desire for exoticism with borrowings from the architecture of California or Brazil.”
If the theme is well anchored in the South-West, the publisher Hermann, with one hundred and forty-seven years of existence, is Parisian, while in previous years our prize has highlighted Neo-Aquitanians. But the originality of the work seemed to us to deserve this large geographical difference. Especially since it was commissioned and supervised by the Council for Architecture, Town Planning and the Environment (CAUE) of Charente-Maritime. “We wanted to give keys to understanding to the general public but also to elected officials who will have to protect and work with this heritage,” explains Michel Gallice, former director of the CAUE.
“Four years after the launch of this award, the publications continue to be published and the quality is still there, proof that our intuition was good,” concludes Catherine Lalanne with regard to this beautiful 2023 vintage.