April 13, 2014

Kitty Harri, Kitty Harri's Sculpture Garden

Life demanded that Kitty Harri should live in many places in the world, supported herself in a variety of jobs, wrote novels (under the name Kitty Sewell) that have been translated into many languages, to ultimately find her destiny in making sculptures and creating an art environment.

sculpture in Portland stone entitled "the family at rest"

Life and works

Born in Sweden (in 1951 and enjoying a carefree childhood at a farm, at age thirteen Kitty Harri came to live with her parents in the spanish Canary Islands. She had to learn not only Spanish, but also German because she went to school at a German institute.

At age 18 Kitty followed her parents to Canada, where she lived in Toronto and Vancouver, studied law, married, had two children, naturalised as a Canadian, divorced, got a licence to be a Notary Public and finally went to live with her two children in a remote town in the Canadian sub-Arctic.

The arctic setting, far away from civilization, would provide the inspiration for her first novel Ice Trap.

Kitty met John, a doctor from England. They married and moved to the United Kingdom, where they settled in Wales. Kitty changed profession, re-training as a psychotherapist, working with the National Health Service.

After twelve years as a therapist, it was again time for a change. Kitty did a degree in applied sculpture and a part-time master's degree in creative writing.

She began making sculptures and had several exhibitions, but then her book Ice Trap was published, became an international best-seller, and opened a new exciting future as a  novelist.

Another divorce followed and Kitty has now come full circle and lives in Spain on two acres of mountain paradise in the Costa Tropical region in the province of Granada.

Creating an art environment

Over the last ten years, Kitty has worked steadily on her sculptures and placed them on her land. At the same time she took interest in horticulture and planted many exotic trees on her land which has amazing views over the neighbouring mountain ranges and the sea to the south.

the magic urn

Recently she has slowed down her whirlwind ten-year writing career, and begun to devote herself almost exclusively to sculpting and transforming her land into an exotic garden and art environment.

The garden currently (2014) has some thirty creations, such as stone and wood carvings, bronzes, wall and other mosaics, metal sculptures and murals.

mural and high relief on an outside  wall

Kitty so far has worked mainly in stone and wood, but she has recently begun to work with other types of material, such as metal, glass and concrete.

She has just started to invite other sculptors from anywhere in the world to come and stay for two or three weeks as "artist in residence", to make a piece of work for her sculpture garden and also teach her new techniques, exchange ideas and create inspiration all around.

Sculptors interested in this idea can bring their family for a holiday and stay free in a lovely little house in the villlage of Olivar, 4 km from the sculpture garden.

recent picture (2014) of Kitty in her new capacity

Kitty's Sculpture Garden can be visited by appointment by any sized group, preferably a minimum of four people.

Documentation, more pictures
* Kitty's website kityy.sewell.com, with some pictures of her art
* Facebookpage:  Kitty Harri's Sculpture Garden

Kitty Harri
Kitty Harri's Sculpture Garden
Jete, Granada, Spain
visits on appointment (see her FB page)
a donation is helpful towards Kitty's time and materials

April 06, 2014

Karel Forman, Collage decorated interior

 this picture and the next four by Milan Svacinka, 
courtesy of Pavel Forman, from his website

Above picture depicts Karel Forman* in his apartment in the community of Bruntál in the Czech Republic.

It's an ordinay flat in an ordinary three-storey residential block such as those built in the nineteen-fifties/sixties in so many european towns.

Not ordinary however, is the decoration of this apartment. All available space on walls, ceilings, but also on furniture and utensils has been decorated with collages.

Life and works

The author of this creation, Karel Forman (b. 1929), grew up in Ludkovice, where he trained to be a baker. In the fifties he moved to Bruntál, where he got a job as a truckdriver and ultimately became a busdriver.

Retired in 1990, Forman began his decorative project in 1995.

Karel Forman's grandson, Pavel Forman (b. 1977), who became a visual artist, has related the story in a document entitled No return. He has watched the work of his grandfather from the beginning, "one postcard in the bathroom,  with a family photograph somehow worked into it".......

Although Karel Forman's wife was not amused and tried to stop the increase of collages on the walls, year by year the decorations grew untill after some decades of work, the whole apartment was decorated with collages and had become transformed into -as Pavel says- a "unique and unrepeatable masterpiece".

As so many outsider artists, Karel Forman worked quite intuitively, without any preconceived plan, using materials that were available around, such as clippings from magazines, chocolate and candy wrappers, beer mats and family photographs.

Pavel Forman and his grandfather

Karel Forman's grandson Pavel Forman, as said, has become a visual artist, who is well known in the Czech Republic and other countries. 

In 2009 Pavel introduced his grandfather at the occasion of the opening of an exposition he had in the Mona Lisa artgallery in Olomouc in the Czech republic. 

Pavel has converted fragments of his grandfather's work through digital printing and painting into his own work.

As Pavel says: "The reality captured by cameras in other people's hands was turned into a new one seen on the walls of my grandfathers flat and I will consquently work it into a new level... What comes into being is a visual family saga (...)"

Documentation, more pictures
* Article by Pavel Konečný on Facebook, with many pictures (sept. 2013)
* Tomás Koudela, Karel FormanByt jako socha (A flat like a sculpture), Ostrava, 2012
* Pavel Forman's  introduction to No Return, the family saga

I would like to mention that I first learned about Karel Forman through Pavel Konečný

Karel Forman
Collage decorated interior
Bruntál, Czech Republic
no public visits

April 04, 2014

Hyppolite Massé, Maisons aux coquillages/Shell decorated houses

Houses? Plural? Indeed.... Hyppolite Massé (1894-1984), who had a job as a ferryman on the harbour canal in Les Sables d' Olonne, has decorated the facades of two houses in his hometown.

Both creations are no longer extant.

The first one, known as the "house with the mermaid", was located on the Rue du Lieutenant Maurice Anger in the la Chaume quarter of the town.

The image of the shell decorated facade is settled in the minds of french art brut lovers from the moment photographs of the decorations were first published in 1962 in Gilles Ehrmann's photo book Les inspirés et leurs demeures.

This book, currently a collector's item,  was the first french coherent presentation that introduced the general public to a phenomenon that before that time got no public interest: common people transforming their daily environment into an artwork.

Ehrmann, who as a photographer was connected to a french illustrated magazine, used a classic glass plate camera, which gives his photographs a specific texture. The pictures probably have been made in the second half of the nineteen fifties.

The second facade Massé decorated, pictured above (photographer unknown), was located on the corner of the rue du Marais and the rue Bénadier.

It has an engraved bronze entrance door, which currently is in the collection of the local Musée de l'Abbaye Sainte-Croix. Left and right of the door the walls have frescoed maritime scenes, with at the right an inscription saying Coupe de Noroît, which to my best knowledge means "north western gale".

This facade probably has been decorated in the nineteen sixties and/or seventies.

As said, and as the pictures below show, the decorations on both facades have disappeared.

I could not figure out when this happened, but the images show there is really nothing left.

* Hidden in small periodicals, out of my reach, documentary information should be available, such as in Frédéric Orbestier, "La Maison d'Alice", in: l'Art Immédiat, nr 2 (1995) and in an article by Benoit Decron and Charles Soubeyran in Olona, nr 207 (2009) (periodical of the regional historic society of the area around Les Sables d'Olonne)

Hyppolite Massé
Maisons aux coquillages
Les Sables d'Olonne, FR
no longer extant

March 19, 2014

Peter Buch, Jardí de Peter/Peter's Garden

 pictures are screenshots from the video by
Sergio Flaquer Carreras (Serflac) see documentation

Rather far away from the urban bustle, Peter's garden is situated on a dead end road past the small community of Pobla de Benifassá in the mountaineous interior of Castellón, Spain, some fifty kilometers from the coast.

Begun in 1991, this art environment has evolved in the course of the years into a major setting of paths and ponds, colorful sculptures and imaginative constructions.

the two-levelled dragon's house

Life and works

Born in Germany in 1938, Buch grew up during the second world war and the post-war years. He was glad to leave school at age fourteen and go to work as a gardener. but having the desire to become an artist, he went to the art school in Stuttgart. This proved unsuccesful, he was regarded as undisciplined and wasn't allowed to follow his own imagination.

mosaic decoration

So in 1960, at age 22, he left for Paris "to become a famous artist", a dream that wouldn't come true. He had to get by on small jobs and finally became a house painter. 

In 1964 he met a german young lady whom he would marry and with whom in 1967 he had a son. As so many young people would do these days, the couple travelled to Greece and Formentera, living there as hippies on a shoestring, enjoying beautiful, sunny areas.

In 1970 they finally settled on Formentera, where they lived in a simple, cheap house in the fields.

Buch, who all the while had continued making paintings, the next years had some expositions and succeeded in selling his art work. In the early eighties, apart form painting, he also began trying to work with materials such as wood, making sculptural creations.

Formentera gradually becoming too crowded to his sense, in 1985 Buch, who meanwhile was divorced, visited Spain, where he succeeded finding a quite spot in the small community of Pobla de Benifassá.

With the money he had saved, he bought there a house, he later substituted for another one, more quietly situated at the outskirts of the village. He also bought a workshop and a large piece of land, in a natural area just outside the village.

In the years that followed Buch would continue staying in Paris and in Formentera, untill in 2007 he settled permanently in Pobla de Benifassá.

Creating an art environment

In 1991 Buch began making creations to decorate the garden. He already had begun making sculptures, but now he also gave it a try to make builded structures.

Having no training in construction at all, his first constructs collapsed. A friend introduced him to some principles of construction, and so the site gradually became stocked with all kind of builded structures such as a bar, pictured below, named la Papallana Felic, 

a high rising tower, pictured below, with a platform on top,

but also various monumental structures of people, such as the pregnant woman below,

structure representing a pregnant woman

and also a lot of stand-alone sculptures.

Along paths and ponds, often inlaid with mosaics, visitors can walk through the garden and eventually rest on decorated benches.

Buch can not be seen as a self-taught artist, neither does he belong to or is he interested in the world of mainstream art. In France and Italy he probably would be seen as belonging to the field of art singulier. 

He is familiar with the work of outsider artists such as Picassiette and facteur Cheval, and feels inspired by such creations as Bomarzo and the Tarot Garden.

Visitors will be welcome. They are asked to pay a small donation. Buch will use the money to buy materials to maintain the garden and make new creations.

The builded structures have been made without any permit from the local authorities, which so far has not yielded any problem. Indeed, it is not impossible the authorities see the garden's potential to attract tourists, which would contribute to the local economy.

Peter Buch's garden is probably the most extensive and comprehensive (outsider) art environment in Spain. In this regard it is significant that the Tripadvisor website mentions Peter's garden and has some positive reviews.

Documentation/more pictures
* From summer 2012 on Buch maintained a website, but currently this site is not active.
* The garden got a scholarly review in: Jo Farb Hernandez, Singular Spaces. From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, p. 336-351. Seatlle (Raw Vision, SPACES, San José State University), 2013. ISBN 978-0-615-78565-3.
* Video by Serflac (8'05, Youtube, uploaded nov 2012)

part 1

part 2

Peter Buch
Jardi de Peter
Pobla de Benifassá, Castellón, ES
visitors welcome

March 04, 2014

Kazimieras Peciukevicius, Auberge aux bois sculptés/The inn with sculpted wood

sculpture of Saint Jacques, installed in 2011

From old a halt on the way of Saint Jacques to Santiago de Compostella, Joncels is a medieval village of some 250 inhabitants in the Herault department in southern France. Just outside the ramparts, in former centuries there was an inn where travellers could stay when the gates were closed at night.

An inn with a large collection of wooden sculptures

This house, dating from the 16th century, since 2002 once more became a hotel, named Villa Issiates, an auberge that warmly welcomes those travellers who are walking their way to Santiago de Compostella.

Run by Giedre and Alain Ivinskas this hotel has a very special ambiance because of the many wooden sculptures displayed at the premises and decorating its walls.

Life and works

These creations have been made by Kazimieras Peciukevicius (b. 1928), who is the father of Giedre.

Born in Lithunia. he is a descendant of a Jewish polish-lithunian family that in the 19th century migrated to the United States, but having inherited a large farm in Lithunia, returned to that country before World War II. 

In the 19th century Lithunia was part of the Russian Empire, untill in 1918 it regained its independence. In 1940, during the second world war,  the country was occupied first by the Soviet Union, subsequently by the Germans and then in 1944 once more by the Soviet Union.

As a counterforce against the soviet-russin occupation a strong partisan movement emerged, uniformed, operating in smaller and larger units, with the large forests as a shelter. 

Vigorously pursued, most partisans would make use of the amnesty following Stalin's death in 1953, although some groups continued their activities up in the nineteeneighties.

March 1990 Lithunia finallly became an independent nation.

Peciukevicius, who was in his twentieth after world war II, joined the partisans and so he spent a large part of his young life in the forests.

This may have influenced his later creative work, such as he also has undergone influences from polish, russian and lithunian culture.

After he had participated in the partisan movement Peciukevicius had a large variety of jobs, and at some moment he became the owner of the house in Joncels, that nowadays is the hotel Villa Issiates, run by his daughter and son-in-law.

Peciukevicius has become a gifted self-taught creator of wooden sculptures which embellish the property in large numbers, calling an atmosphere of another world, a world perhaps of gnomes and woodland spirits one supposes present in dense forests....

Currently at age eighty, Peciukevicius likes to stay with his daughter and son-in-law during the months in autumn and winter when the hotel is closed. A nice periode to make new creations.

Documentation, more pictures
* Weblog Herault Insolite
* Article (may 2011) in regional journal Midi Libre
* Facebook page of the hotel

Kazimieras Peciukevicius
Auberge aux bois sculptés
Rue du Plô
34650 Joncels, Herault, FR
open to the public

February 26, 2014

Caroline Dahyot, Villa Verveine

Ault is a small community of some 4000 inhabitants in Picardy, in France, located on a cliff facing the Channel. In this area, dominated by the Somme Bay, live and work several artists who depict the beauty of its nature. The art of the artist presented in this post, however, is about emotions we all may experience, both sad and happy ones.

Life and works

Born in Paris, Caroline Dahyot (b. 1968) got a rather religious education in an overprotected and austere setting, which increased her rejection of authority. In 1987 she enrolled at the Ecole d'Arts Graphiques, where she just went her own wayAt that time, in order to create a reassuring universe, she obsessively decorated the walls of her apartment with painted frescoes.

After Paris, she stayed for some time in Nice, making illustrations for magazines.

In 2001 she came to live in northern France, where she got a house on the rue Saint Valery in Ault. Following her deepest artistic motivations, Caroline made all kind of dolls and transformed the interior of the house by adding frescoes and mosaics to walls and ceilings.

decorated interior
picture by Caroline Dahyot, from her FB page

Untill around 2006 she absolutely had no ambition to exhibit, but this changed, and in 2007 she had an exposition entitled Poupées d'amour (Love dolls) in Criel sur Mer, where she presented the puppets she had created.

It was an important happening, since here she met other artists with whom she felt akin: the world of art singulier (singular art), as outsider art is referred to in France.

Transforming the facade

The house on the rue Saint Valery, named Villa Verveine by former owners, from old had some mosaic decorations. The designation Villa is somewhat excessive for a terraced house in an average, not very remarkable street.

Caroline decorated the facade in a more striking way, transforming the already present mosaics into frescoes depicting people and other representations.

However, when in the autumn of 2010 she added a more than lifesized representation of a young couple, Ault's mayor (probably taking into consideration complaints by inhabitants) was not amused and ordered the removal of the fresco's.

(licensed under Wikimedia commons)

The mayor's ruling caused a lot of public debate, regional t.v. payed attention to it and an internet petition in favor of Caroline was organized.

The video (Youtube, 1'53", oct 2010, french spoken) has a news item on regional tv, showing the facade in the streetscape.

Eventually the mayor agreed that the frescoes could stay.

The decorated facade is not a steady-state, occasionaly the decorations will be updated.

Art Singulier

Besides being a singer in the Duo des Falaises, Dahyot is actively involved in the world of singular art. She has taken part in various exhibitions and this year (2014) she participated in the first ever Festival d'Art Singulier in Belgium (april 4-5-6, Han sur Lesse) 

Introducing her as participant of this festival, Iza Daussaint has said: her works are "magic items with protective powers, capable of providing, restore or maintain love and family unity ..."

Documentation, more pictures
* Caroline Dahyot's webshop
* Her website (works, interior, exterior)
* Her Facebook page

Caroline Dahyot
Villa Verveine
21 rue Saint Valéry
80460 Ault, Picardie FR
exterior can be seen from the street
no public visits, except during occasional expositions

February 23, 2014

Alberto Manotti, Re del Po/King of the river Po

From the Alps to the Adriatic Sea over a length of more than six hundred kilometers, the River Po crosses northern Italy. Mostly calm, the wide river can sometimes rise to great heights, which in the recent past has led to major floodings.

Life and works

Born in Catanzaro in the south of Italy, Alberto Manotti (b. 1942) during World War II came to live in Boretto, a community of some 5000 inhabitants in the central part of the river Po, on its right bank, a city that hosts an important touristic harbour and the Museo del Po, della navigazione interna e del governo delle acque (Museum of the Po, of inland navigation and of water management).

Manotti, who had a job in a furniture factory, became a man whose life would be determined by a passion for the river.

He would spend there as much time as possible and at some moment in the nineteen seventies, after a woman with her children were drowned in the river, he decided to construct kind of cabin on a sandy spot along the river, a cabin which could be a refuge, an observation post or a facility to warn people to be careful in getting along with the river.

view from the bridge over the Po west of Boretto 

To construct the cabin, Manotti used driftwood, and the fun of making a construction with this material, may have inspired him to continu and make a large wooden structure similar to a ship, just using material supplied by the river.

It eventually became a wooden structure, some 40 m (131 ft) long and 6 m (20 ft) high, with ladders, walkways and lookouts.

Fun for kids to climb, of course, and just as adults, they were welcome to visit the site.

this and the next two pictures (2009) courtesy of 
Tyler Keller and Tara Alan 

Indeed, Manotti lies to talk to children about his passion and he has added playground equipment and funny sculptures to the site, such as above Pinoccio.

From 2009 on, probably when he got retired, Manotti is full time involved in his project.  

A photo with writing, mounted on a part of the construct, informs visitors how this all came about. It says: 
BORETTO - il fiume PO
La Nuova Grande Costruzione di ALBERTO
Realizzata con materiali naturali trasportati
dal fiume e tante ore di lavoro....

In english: "Boretto...the river Po/Come to the beach to see the "ship"/  The great new construction by Alberto/made with natural materials transported/by the river and many hours of work ..."

Compared to the forces of the river in the case of increased water level, the wooden structure of course is fragile.

Manotti has made constructs of poles that allow the ship to stay above high water level, but the forces of nature have their impact and the construction must be regularly maintained and often changes in the structure have to be implemented. The latter undoubtedly so much to Manotti's satisfaction.

Continuous change

The theme of continuous change inspired Italian filmmaker Elena Fieni. She met Manotti by accident in 2003 during a period of great drought, and got his cooperation to shoot a film about his relation with the river.

Entitled Visible...Invisible: un re racontta il suo regno the first version in 2004 was shown to the inhabitants of Boretto. In 2008 a version showing footage shot in intervening years, was ready. The movie has been presented on various festivals, but is not available on the internet.

Continuous change is typical for the art environments presented in this blog. The creators of theses sites continu, often untill old age, to supplement and change their creations. And when they pass away it is not uncommon their creations gradually disappear.
Documentation/more pictures

Alberto Manotti
Re del Po
Boretto, IT
on the beach near the bridge in the
road from Boretto to Viadana
visitors welcome