The pretty village of Saussignac sits on the hillside on the southern side of the Dordogne river valley, not far from Bergerac. The village boasts a castle and breath-taking views across the vineyards that gently sweep down to the river. Saussignac has traditionally been known for its sweet wines but for a while now the village has been transforming into something much more. Today, Art & Vin Saussignac is on the map for bringing the creativity of wine-making together with other forms of art and the village now boasts a growing number of artists, a sculptor, a jewellery-maker and a writer among its residents.

One such artist is resident Michael Rumsby. Ten years ago, after a long, international career in public relations, Michael made a life-style choice to follow his passion for painting and came to Saussignac to do just that. Working with acrylic on canvas, his unique style quickly gained recognition and he was invited to exhibit in exclusive art galleries in Dubai and London’s Mayfair. Today Michael has become an acclaimed artist and exhibits all over the world.

“I’ve always been creative and dabbled in painting,” says Michael. “My paintings are all about what I feel. Reality is the point of inspiration but it is my memory of that reality and how I feel about it that inspires my creativity when I paint.”

Beauty is infinite

While taking his morning walk through the beautiful countryside at Saussignac, Michael takes the time to think about his painting. “Incredible beauty surrounds us,” he says, “for me, beauty is infinite. I capture that in my memory then enhance it with a broad spectrum of colours. When I’m painting a piece, it’s like I’m painting a hundred paintings at once, it evolves”. Look out for an infinity symbol embedded in each of Michael’s pieces (∞).

Michael’s move into art has certainly paid off with a two-year waiting list for commissioned work and another exhibition coming up this year at the Clarendon Art gallery in Mayfair.

Giving back to the local community

Being so appreciative of living in such a beautiful village, Michael and his husband, Lee, have always been active in giving back to the local community. Among their initiatives is a collaboration with nearby Château Fayolle with whom they set up The Ruby Foundation. This foundation will provide funding for local projects such as a scholarship for a young person living locally and looking for support to further their vocation through an education or training opportunity in the wine industry or creative arts. To begin with, 20% of the revenue made from a limited-edition Château Fayolle ruby vintage wine presented in a limited-edition wooden box hand painted and signed by Michael will go to the foundation. More information about this initiative will be published shortly on Dordogne-life.com

With this marriage between different forms of creativity, the village of Saussignac attracts more and more visitors each year. Michael and Lee have already created a buzz with their successful boutique hotel in the centre of the village, Le 1500. Beautifully decorated, it focuses very much on offering a bespoke service to their guests. They also run painting retreats (more details on their website). The castle opposite now acts as a venue for events and there is a highly rated restaurant in town too, Le Mélange. Not to mention a range of events in the summer hosted by local vineyards surrounding the village.

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