August 15, 2017

Deva Manfredo, La selva di sogno/Dreamwoods

screenprint from the video shot by drone

Mainly composed of single-handedly arranged stones, Dreamwoods, located in a forest in northern Italy, is one of the few sites in the field of art environments made almost exclusively from a large variety of stones ¹.

Life and works

The self-taught artist who created this artwork was born in 1949 in Duderstadt, Germany as Manfred Flucke. After primary education, he went to Hamburg to study sociology and history, after which he for some years wandered around making paintings and drawings, until he in 1977 felt inspired by meditation.

He joined Osho's movement and renamed Deva Manfredo around 1980 he moved to Italy where he went to live in Osho Miasto, the biggest Osho center in Italy, located in a beautiful area in Tuscany, not far from Sienna. He would reside there for some 25 years, working as a graphic designer, photographer and barkeeper.

a decorated tree
(this picture and the next four {2017} courtesy of Boris van Es)
In an interview Manfredo said:  "Since I was a child I was fascinated by the beauty and form of stones, particularly the ones which have been polished to perfection by the to and fro of the ocean waves".  He especially likes the immobility, timelessness and eternity of this material.

When one day around 1980 he just by chance was busy with some stones and felt that by arranging them he had created something beautiful, he got inspired to make a number of such creations and install these in a natural  area.

So soon after Manfredo had settled in the Osho center, he began to consider setting up an outer space with a specific collection of stones. He was aware of a place in an extensive oakwood near the center where he lived and in 1981 he installed there his first stone works.


The forest was not his property, maybe it belonged to the commune, but anyhow initially there was no question of appropriation, because the site remained without a fence and the stones Manfredo used for his compositions were laid loose on the ground or on another.

Currently, some 35 years later, the land is rented long-term from the owner of the grounds, the site has some 200 creations, some quite a size, there is a gift shop at the entrance and paths run through the forest, but there still is no fence and the animals of the forest have free access.

a large mandala of colored stones

Sorted into a large compartmentalized storage box, Manfredo has a large stock of stones in many colors, an item already intrusive as such and rather useful to make multi colored planar structures.

From his passion for meditation it is obvious that among the creations in Dreamwoods one finds a number of mandalas, circular geometric patterns of Hinduistic origin that symbolically depict the cosmos. The figure picture above shows that such a mandala can have a rather large size.

a mosaic

But there are also less esoteric mosaics, often performed in squares or rectangles and located on the ground.

rising structures

The site also includes a large number of vertical structures made of stacked stones, some standing on their own, others standing in a smaller or larger combinations.

Piling the stones into stacks, Manfredo uses no glue or cement. The stones are just hold together by gravity.

a citiscape
(this picture and the next one {2016) courtesy of Manfred Lucke)

Some of these combinations of stone piles are grouped in such a way that one gets the impression to look at an impressive citiscape with a variety of high and low elements,  some rising up to five meters.

In some of his recent artworks characterised by rising stone piles Manfredo also processes glass, plastic and marble.

At a later moment in his artistic development, Manfredo also began making anthropomorphic characters. An observer of these creations said: "... I have the impression that they do not seem to have been ‘put’ there, rather it is as if the stones had decided one early morning to arrange themselves into these forms".

anthropomorphic figure
(picture {2017) courtesy of Boris van Es)

Visitors can follow a specified trail along the artworks in the forest. They are advised to make the walk in silence.

this picture and the next one {2016} courtesy of Manfred Flucke

Around 2006 Manfredo left the Miasto commune. He has kept "Manfredo" as his artist name and currently lives in a Tuscan village.

The site in the forest is closed from november until end march and during these months Manfredo may make trips abroad, visiting family members and old friends in his hometown Duderstadt or collecting stones from beaches or rivers all over Europe.

* Video by Start Production (8'40", You Tube, uploaded feb 2014)

* Video (2016) by Sebastian Lecca and Tomaso Orio Manfred Lucke, La selva di sogno, published on Facebook

* View of the site by drone (dec 2016), by Manfred Flucke, published on Facebook

¹ Italians who, each with a specific approach, collected and displayed stones:
- Pasquale Paolucci, Museo di pietras
In Spain Manfred Gnädinger's Museo has sculptures made from stones found at the beach

Deva Manfredo (Manfred Flucke)
Selva di sogno (Dreamwoods)
Località San Giorgio,
Chiusdino, region Toscane, Italy
open from end march until early november
Tuesday- and Friday in the afternoon 14-18.30 
Saturday and Sunday 10-18.30
telephone: +39 333 433 0183

August 02, 2017

Jean Poteau, Le havre du pêcheur/The fisherman's refuge

pictures courtesy of
Hubert Bouvet© Hauts-de-France 2014

When in december 2015 this weblog reported the publication of d' Étonnants jardins en Nord-Pas de Calais, a book about art environments in France's northern regions Nord and Pas de Calais, a short mention was made of Jean Poteau's art environment, referred to in the book as Le Havre du pêcheur (The fisherman's refuge). 

The following post has more about this modest art environment.

Life and works

Jean Poteau (1947-2010) was the son of a mine-worker living in Rouvroy, a community some 40 km south of Lille in northern France. 

When it came to choosing a future profession Poteau Sr advised his son not to become a miner, with which Jean Poteau agreed and so he became a construction worker, specialized in form work and woodworking. He continued to live in Rouvroy and conducted his work especially in the Lille area. 

In 1989, at age 42, Poteau added a pond with fish to the garden at the rear of the house in Rouvroy where he lived with his wife. 

Some 8 years later, in 1997, he began transforming the already well-flowered garden into an art environment by adding a variety of single-handedly created decorative elements.

On the edge of the pond a fisherman got a place, as well as a heron, another person and a mill.

The windmill, with a build-up from red bricks and a roof covered with tiles, evokes the regional architecture of northern France. In winter it can give shelter to birds. A weather vane indicates the direction of the wind.

The bodies, arms and legs of he persons are made from all-purpose residual material, the faces were molded from self-made molds and the clothes and other attributes of the persons are dismissed items.

a lion

In addition to the heron which is part of the scene around the pond, Poteau has created a variety of other animals which got a place in the garden or around the house, such as dogs, ducks, frogs, and lions.

All these figurines were molded from cement in molds made by Poteau himself.

a crocodile

The fireplace/barbecue in the picture below has some animals made from gypsum (a cat, a dog and a rather small horse).

Poteau covered the walls with cobblestones, ballast from a nearby small railroad along which trash was transported.

Poteau passed away in 2010. 

His wife (✝ 2012), who wanted to move to a smaller home, had to arrange that the rented house, the garden included, was returned to its original state and so Poteau's modest art environment was demolished, although some smaller, transportable items may have been included in private collections.  

* "Le Havre du pêcheur de Jean Poteau (1947-2010)" in: Le Service du Patrimoine Culturel de la région Nord-Pas de Calais, D'Étonnants Jardins en Nord-Pas de Calais. Inventaire général du patrimoine culturel (Images du Patrimoine, 293). Lyon (Ed. Lieux-Dits), 2015, pp 106-109

Jean Poteau
Le havre du pêcheur
(formerly) 63 Boulevard des Italiens
Rouvroy, region Nord-Pas de Calais, France 
site no more extant

July 17, 2017

Pierre Jaïn, Musée-exposition/Museum-exposition

the card player (high 53 cm)
picture courtesy of Jean-Michel Jaïn

Still rather unknown in the field of outsider art, a recently published book (Benoît Jaïn, Pierre Jaïn. Un hérétique chez les "bruts"retains Pierre Jaïn's artwork from oblivion fifty years after his death. His sculpture garden in Brittany, France, which to a very limited extent currently still exists, included just a small part of his creative outburst in the 1950's/60's. 

Life and works

Born in Kerlaz, Finistère, France, in a large family, Pierre Jaïn (1904-1967), due to long-term problems with a broken ankle only went to school at the age of ten. After three years he left school to go to work on the farm of his parents. 

He was in the military from 1924-1925 and when in 1931 his father died, he took his place at the farm.

Because of the imminent war with Germany he was mobilized in the army in 1939.  In march 1940 Jaïn broke his legs by a collision with a car and he had to stay in hospitals for a long time to rehabilitate. 

 the bishop (high 63 cm)
this picture and the next three courtesy of Benoît Jaïn

During that long period of rehabilitation he discovered his interest in drawing and sculpting, which he showed by for example processing small pieces of wood with a pocket knife. 

In 1942 Jaïn returned to Kerlaz, to resume the management of the farm, a task he transferred  in 1948 to a brother. 

The effects of the accident had reduced his physical abilities and he would always be having problems with walking. 

 tribute to the deported 
(by Germany during the second world war)

Jaïn would  never marry. In the early 1950's he arranged his own accommodation on the farm's grounds to which he linked a three-to-seven meters large shed he could use as a studio.

In the late 1950's, around 1956, Jaïn got retired from his job and then he actually began creating artworks. He was in his early fifties.

An explosion of creativity

In his studio Jaïn dedicated himself to making sculptures, some of these from animal bones obtained from the local butcher, others from locally available pieces of granite and a rather large number from tree stumps or other pieces of wood. Rising early in the morning he worked steadily, making some 400 creations during the next eight years.

In his artworks Jain expressed his interest in Breton folklore, legends and belief systems,

the Breton village, a creation from a tree stump (63x64 cm)

On shelves along the walls of the studio dozens of sculptures were arranged, often stand alone characters such as devils, saints, historical persons, ethnological types or Breton celebrities, but also more composite creations, such as a scene of a Breton village or a woman and a dragon, as depicted above and below.

the woman and the dragon, sculpted wood (high 52 cm)

The sculptures from granite or cement, a selection of which is pictured in this article, in general were displayed in the garden and the orchard.

Living near the bay of Douarnenez, directly connected to the Atlantic Ocean, Jaín feared the power of the waters of the ocean and familiar with the legend of Ker-Ys, comparable with the biblical story of the flood, he had surrounded the site with a system of protective devices, such as a series of wooden sentinels with a repulsive look to ward of evil intentions, a Groupe Tricéphale (a three headed granite sculpture) at the entrance, a Gargouille (Gargoyle, a legendary dragon) and a three meter high wooden totem with a thin face under a zinc cap.

The art environment had also some other special features. 

There was a Hutte d'Adam (Adam's hut), kind of a man-sized  molehill with an opening through which a seated Adam could be observed, linked with a chain to Eve who was located in a hut named Tentation d'Eve (Temptation of Eve). All together an ensemble depicting the paradis terrestre (heaven on earth).

 Head of Gorgon
this picture and the next one courtesy of Jean-Michel Jaïn

And then there was a self-made musical instrument, the Jaïnophone, a percussion set of mainly metal tubes constructed by Jaïn from all kinds of obsolete materials such as copper pipes, bed springs, plowshares and other sound producing items. Jaïn actually played this instrument, producing music hors normes

A sign at the entrance with the text Musée-Exposition welcomed visitors and people from the U.K. and the Netherlands on holiday in Brittany indeed came by.

Jaïn hospitalized

In june 1966 Jaïn got very serious psychiatric problems. He was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in Quimper, where he stayed for more than a year. Returned home in August 1967 he passed away on November 21, 1967.

Later developments

Pierre Maunoury, a psychiatrist and artist from  the region, who already in 1964 had visited Jaïn, wrote about the artworks in the Fascicules d'Art Brut no 10, published by the Collection d'Art Brut in Lausanne. He also donated a set of decorated bones to the museum.

In 1991 Bruno Montpied rediscovered Jaïn's artwork and wrote about it both in specialized magazines and in his weblog (see documentation).

The artworks could be seen in various regional and local expositions: in 1965 in Douarnenez (organized by Pierre Jaïn himself); in 2001 in Dol de Bretagne (l'Art Brut à l'ABRI); in 2002 in Kerlaz (organized by Jaïn's family) and in 2013 in Brest (l'Art Brut à l'Ouest).

At the time of the publication of this post in this weblog there was an exposition in Kerlaz (july 12-23, 2017), also at the occasion of the new book by Benoît Jaïn.

capped character (60 cm high)

Actual state of the artworks

With a number of exceptions the some 400 self-contained wooden sculptures, divided among the various members of the Jaïn family, are still existing.

However, the wooden sculptures which were displayed outside in the Musée-exposition perished by the effects of the weather, in so far they haven't been removed in time. Most other decorative items, the Jaïnophone included, have been removed

In fact the garden currently only contains some granite sculptures, partly weathered by growing moss.

The farmhouse has become a gîte, where holidaymakers can rent a room. The presence of the sculptures promotes the attractiveness of the site as a holiday residence

* Website about Pierre Jaïn edited by Benoît Jaïn:
Benoît Jaïn, Pierre Jaïn. Un hérétique chez les "bruts". Kerlaz (YIL Editions), 2017. -115 p
* Article on the weblog of Jean-Yves Cordier about  sculptures by Jaïn at the exposition l'Art Brut á l'Ouest (2013) 
* Various articles and referrals on the weblog of Bruno Montpied
* Article on Wikiwand

Pierre Jaïn
Kerioret Izella, Kerlaz, Brittany, France
site non-extant, except a number of granite sculptures

June 26, 2017

Matti Järvenpää, Rautapuisto/Iron Park

Matti Järvenpää's art environment in Kyröskoski, Finland, for many years has remained a hidden gem. Only recently (spring 2017) written and visual information has become available on the internet about this extensive and impressive artwork.

Life and works

Matti Järvenpää was born in 1936. Already at a young age he had fun in making small constructions. At adulthood he got a job at Kyrö Electric, a company designing and constructing all kinds of electrical installations. He worked there for 43 years until he retired around 2000.

Struck by the beauty of ancient objects and machinery in the agricultural business, Järvenpää made his first creation in 1967, a rocking chair. The re-use of old materials is evident, the seat of the chair for example appears to be derived from a tractor.

This was the first of a series of creations Järvenpää would produce in the years to come. His activity would result in an art environment which for one part consists of stand alone iron creations and for another part of clustered old industrial, agrarian or household objects made from (cast) iron. 

The collection of some thirty iron artworks is exhibited in the green and fragrant surroundings of a pine forest near the small community of Kyröskoski, part of the larger community of Hämeenkyrö (region Pirkanmaa), some 220 north-west of Helsinki.


A special part of the collection is the series of creations made of clustered similar objects, such as the assembly in the picture above, consisting of more or less uniform red and yellow lids surrounded by a radius, an assembly or clustering which as a whole expresses a sunset.

clustered insulators for overhead power cables

Järvenpää's art environment has a variety of such clustered artworks which testify to the creative ingenuity of the artist.

Such as a stack of multicolored buckets.....

...... or kind of a screen built with seats of tractors or other agricultural machines.....

.....or a collection of pancake pans and other circular items added to a wooden wall.....

.... or kettles....

........ or objects you do not recognize immediately, but which have to do with
agricultural or industrial activities in former times.......

In the field of art environments Järvenpää's method of clustering similar items in designing an artwork occurs sporadically. In Finland Juha Vanhanen clustered old plowshares, painted white,  to portray a flight of birds. And in Italy Ettore Guatelli collected large quantities of old tools which he added to the walls of his house in rhythmic patterns.

In addition to the creations of the art environment Järvenpää owns a large collection of old cars, buses, billboards and the like, a collection that attracts a lot of interest from rally drivers and other lovers of old cars.
Kyröskoski, Hämeenkyrö, Finland
can be visited on appointment

June 17, 2017

Pavel Andrikevich, будинок з драконом/The house with a dragon

In the Ukrainian city of Lutsk since 2009 a rotatable metal installation that represents a dragon rises on the roof of a residential house. It's a creation by self-taught white-smith Pavel Andrikevich

Life and works

Born in the late 1950's Andrikevich studied at the Civil Aviation Technical School in Leningrad, Russia (from 1991 on St Petersburg).  After his study he worked as a dispatcher at the traffic service of the regional airport of the Rivne region in the north-west of Ukraine.

In the 1980's he got a job at the in 1984 newly opened Volyn regional airport, not far from the city of Lutsk, where he went to live.

Around 1986 Andrikevich became interested in working with metal. Just as other self-taught artists make sculptures or other creations from wood, it's for Andrikevich an artistic adventure to work with metal. 

In part his metalwork just delivers decorative items, for another part it results in functional products which are nice to see as well, as for example a decorated turbo vent as on the picture below.

The airport of the Volyn region, where Andrikevich worked,  was successful in the 1980's, but it encountered problems following the dissolution of the USSR in december 1991. It officially closed in 1997, but Andrikevich may have lost his job earlier.

He got a new job at the TechnoModul company in Lutsk, which makes equipment for ventilation.

Next to this job Andrikevich also focused upon the manufacture of metal domes for churches, monasteries and other buildings in Lutsk and in the surrounding Volyn region. An example of such a dome is the one installed on the chapel at the site of a fire brigade in Lutsk.

A very special part of Andrikevich's metalwork is his series of decorated helmets for motorcyclists, made from shining steel and adorned with various colorful stones.

These helmets indeed are suitable to wear when driving a motor cycle, but Andrikevich rarely will do so to prevent problems with the police.

In addition to these helmets, Andrikevich's house and garden contain many more metal items, such as above shield and sword, but also a swing for children, storage boxes and various other decorative items. 

However, Andrikevich's most spectacular creation is the dragon on the roof of his two story house.

The idea to construct such a creature had been with Andrikevich for a while, but it actually took shape when he had to rest for weeks due to an accidentally broken thigh. 

Made of aluminum in order not to be too heavy and resting on a base of galvanized steel, the five-meter long dragon can turn with the direction of the wind. It is flanked by decorated chimneys, crowned with pigeons.

With the help of his two sons, Andrikevich installed the creation on june 7, 2009. 

Visible from afar, it attracts a lot of public interest, as it also resulted in various articles in the local and regional press.

* Article (april 2017) in newspaper Volyn News
* Article (march 2016) in newspaper Rayon Lutsk
* Article (january 2012) in newspaper Volyn News 
* Album The House with the Dragon in Lutsk by Maria Pylypchuk on Facebook (july 2017), with a large variety of pictures of the site
* Video by Maria Pylypchuk (Facebook, 1'30", july 2017) with the dragon in full action

Pavel Andrikevich
The house with a dragon
(name of street unknown)
Lutsk, Volyn region, Ukraine
no public visits,
the installation can be seen from the street 

May 31, 2017

Pascal Audin, Le monde de M. Audin/Mr Audin's world

On the Place du Marché (market square) in Gençay, France, just behind the town hall, an old shop was transformed into an art environment named Le monde de M. Audin (Mr Audin's world).

Life and works

Born July 1, 1957 in Poitiers, Pascal Audin grew up in a family that treated him with denigration. which meant that as an adult he experienced problems in finding a place in life. Although he had jobs such as painter at a construction company and stone cutter, he also was homeless for a couple of years and for some time he was taken to a therapeutic center.

The turning point in his life came at age forty, when a friend asked him why he did not try making visual art. 

Later looking back at that moment, Audin said: "Ça a fait tilt dans ma tête, et depuis je peins. Je peins comme les enfants, de manière instinctive. Cela sort de mes tripes, de mon coeur" (It clicked in my head and since then I paint. I paint like children, instinctively. It's out of my guts, out of my heart) ¹.

His colorful paintings are one and all joy and bear witness to a great imagination and curiosity. 

In 2002 Audin settled in Gençay, a small town south of Poitiers in the west of France with some 1800 inhabitants. At the market place in the center of town he could rent an old, rather dilapidated shop. 

He used this shop both as his dwelling house and as his workshop. A self-taught artist, Audin produced a large quantity of all kind of artworks, such as totems, paintings and postcards. He decorated the interior and exterior walls with frescoes, installed a variety of items, such as a collection of decorated snow/christmasballs or a collection of keys added to a ceiling.... 

The artist's house became an art environment, which soon began to contribute to the identity of the town. As the painter of Gençay Audin became a central personality of the community.

He was invited to take part in various expositions and he liked to cooperate with schools in realizing large frescoes together with the school children.

An association Les amis de Monsieur Audin was formed, which in 2009 published a weblog with information about his expositions and photographs of his artworks and house.

The future of the site is assured

When in 2015 a rental period of Audi's house/museum/art environment would expire, the owner indicated his intention to sell the property.

Since this could have meant that Audin had to leave and that much of his artwork might get lost, the Association of friends became active and organized a crowdfunding action, about which newspapers reported.

In august 2015 it was announced that with € 15.000 on donations from friends and with financial support from the Communauté de Communes du Pays de Gençay and from the Région Poitou-Charente, the necessary resources were available to buy the house.


* Video by newspaper La Nouvelle République (2'53", Daily Motion, uploaded april 2915)

¹ The quote is from an article in La Nouvelle République (29-1-2011), reprinted in facsimile on the website Les amis de  monsieur Audin

Pascal Audin
Le monde de M. Audin
Place du marché
Gençay, Nouvelle-Acquitaine region, France
visitors welcome

May 22, 2017

Konstantin Ekshibarov, Музей скопирована картины/Museum of copied paintings

Ekshibarov with two of his paintings
In Chudovo, a Russian town some 100 km south-east of St Petersburg. self-taught artist Konstantin Ekshibarov transformed his house into a museum by filling its rooms with a large variety of copies of paintings by Europe's leading classical painters.

Life and works

Born in 1926 in Barnaoel, a town in the south-west of Siberia. Konstantin Sergeyevich Ekshibarov already at a young age was very interested in visual art. Going to an art school however wasn't an issue since in 1944 at age 18 he was immediately drafted into the army which was engaged in the war with Germany.

During the war he witnessed that soldiers destroyed valuable artistic items in a library and at that moment he decided to devote his life to the copying of paintings by classical painters.

this picture and the next ones (2005):
screenprints from the TV1 video (see documentation)

After the war Ekshibarov went to the Military Medical Academy, although he later regretted he had not followed his calling to go to an art academy. After the academy he stayed in the army as a medical dcotor.

In 1956 he left the military for a job as biochemist-toxicologist at the Russian Institute for Toxicology in Leningrad (named St Petersburg from 1991), where he worked until he retired in 1984.

During all the years in the army and at the institute, in his spare time he was active in making copies of classical paintings.

In doing so, he focused in particular on copying paintings of famous classic masters, such as Rubens, Goya, Velazquez, Titian.... 

He has created hundreds of copies, with a certain preference for portraits of women and the female nude, working by means of illustrations of paintings in magazines and books about visual art.

During most of his professional life Ekshibarov was not allowed to make trips abroad to see paintings of his beloved masters in Europen museums, but of course the Hermitage was at his fingertips.

Once retired, Ekshibaro and his wife Anna Vasilyevna decided to go outside the big city. In 1985 they settled in Chudovo, a town of some 15000 inhabitants in the Novgorod region, where they had acquired an old two-storey house. 

Ekshibarov single-handedly transformed this property into a building with some fifteen rooms, which came in very handy to exhibit Ekshibarov's already extensive collection of copies of paintings. 

So the couple went to live in two of the rooms and all other rooms were intended for exhibiting the paintings. That is to say, a selection of the paintings, because the collection was so extensive that a large part of it had to be kept stored.

Some rooms were dedicated to a particular country or region, for example Italy, France, Russia, Germany, Flanders......

By adding attributes Ekshibarov and his wife have tried to give each room the atmosphere that fits the paintings and the era they were created. 

Ekshibarov was not a man who sought publicity with regard to his artistic work. He performed his artwork in isolation and had no contact with others about his artistic activities. The local committee on culture did not know about his museum.

This situation lasted about twenty years, until in october 2003 a first article about his creations appeared in the Russian newspaper Izvestia, followed by articles in other newspapers in the same month and in 2005 and 2007 (see documentation).

At that time the artist was around age 80, so in these articles also the question was raised what should happen with his legacy of over 450 paintings.

Ekshibarov himself on principle never considered to sell separate items of his artwork, neither would he consider to donate seperate items to a museum. His ideal was that his entire oeuvre would be exhibited in a separate museum, preferably in a building in Chudovo and maybe under the auspices of an already existing museum. In such an arrangement he would gladly donate the complete collection to a foundation or a museum.

It is a pity to have to end this post in 2017 by concluding that after 2007 no further news has appeared on the internet, neither about Ekshibarov himself, nor about the status of the collection. Documentation
* Article (october 2003) in Konsomolskaya Pravda

Konstantin Sergeyevich Ekshibarov
Museum of copied paintings
Chudovo, Novgorod region, Russia
no information available about the actual situation