July 01, 2022

Pierre-Alain Michel, Village miniature / Miniature village

pictures are screenprints from the 2'46" video, 
re-use licensed under Creative Commons

Google Streetview
 showed in 2019, a small sign under a mailbox along a road in Belgium referred to Le Village.

This sign has since been replaced by another one from enamel, which refers to Le village miniature, and that's what his post is about: a miniature village in the backyard of a house in the community of Trooz, south-east of Liège in Belgium.

the miniature village seen from the air

Life and works

This art environment was created by Pierre-Alain Michel, about whom, apart from that he is married and a secondary school teacher, no further biographical information is available.

In a comment on Facebook, he is described as a driven and humble man

In 1995, on a rectangular strip of land at the back of his house garden, Pierre-Alain Michel began creating the miniature village, that shows the Trooz community on a scale of about 1;10.

The buildings, initially made of tarred wood, later of PVC, comprise all types of a municipality the size of Trooz, such as a school, a chapel, a music dome, a police station, a hotel, shops and residences.

One of those houses is special, because smoke comes out of the house as if it were on fire. It is of course a simulated scene, but the event entails that a fire engine comes at full speed to extinguish the fire.

This scene says something about the intention behind the design of this miniature creation, namely a representation of reality as faithfully as possible.

This is also apparent from the way the roads have been constructed. 

First of all, the track of the road is deepened a few centimeters, a gravel bed is laid in it, first covered with a layer of sand mixed with cement, and then with a 2 cm thick layer of reinforced concrete with chicken wire, and finally these three layers are finished with a layer of tar.

This approach to road construction also means that these roads have such a strong structure that they can be walked on by adults.

The solidity of the road construction has its counterpart in the accuracy of the construction of road markings, traffic signs, traffic lights and public lighting.

The attention to this aspect of the representation of miniature villages, which also emerges from the images in this post, gives this Belgian creation its own unique place among the other miniature villages in Europe.

Behind the precision with which Pierre-Alain Michel shaped road signs and public lighting,
for its part, there is a great interest in this type of material. For operating the traffic lights in the miniature village he managed to obtain a switch box, which indeed controls the lights there.

He also gradually collected a collection of disused traffic signs, work lamps and the like.

In recent years, Michel increasingly got the idea that these items would not look out of place in a museum and so it happened that in the summer of 2021 he announced the creation of a Musée de la Signalisation Routière et de l'Eclairage Public (Museum of Road Signs and Public Lighting)

A Facebook page of the same name was launched in August 2021.

The question of how the museum will be accommodated is still under investigation

The miniature village on Facebook
*  Article (November 2019) on the website of the French-speaking Belgian radio/TV 

* There is a video by Karrree on Facebook Watch, with Pierre-Alain Michel explaining the creation      (2022, 2'56", can't be embedded here) 
* Video by Drone d'Image (2016, 2'46", YouTube)

* Another video by Drone d'Image (2016, YouTube, 2'38")

Pierre-Alain Michel
Miniature village
Rue Au Thier, 17
4870 Trooz, region Liège, Belgium
visitors welcome on appointment
Google Maps, with a variety of photos

June 24, 2022

Jürgen Farklas, Zwerge im Wald / Dwarfs in the forest

 pictures by Dodo, added to Komoot,
website for outdoor experiences

The community of Bürbach with about 2100 inhabitants is part of the city of Siegen in Germany, located about 90 km east of Cologne. In a forest near the community one can see an arrangement of all kinds of dwarfs.

Life and works

This arrangement was created by Jürgen Farklas (March 8, 1951 - October 2, 2021), He grew up in Siegen and after his primary education followed a technical training with a focus on carpentry. 

After working in that field for several years, in 1984 when he was in his early thirties, he got a job in the technical department of the Siegerland Museum, which belongs to the municipality of Siegen. This city and regional museum not only has an art collection, but it also focuses on the history of the city, mainly its economic and industrial aspects.

In 1993 Farklas became a carpenter with the landscaping department of the municipality. In June 2000 he was appointed in that department as executive for central craft activities, this until his retirement at age 65 on January 31, 2016.

For 35 years Farklas was also a member of the Verein fúr Bürbacher Ortsgeschichte und Heimatplege (Association for local history and hometown beautification of Bürbach).

With a background like the one outlined here, it's easy to understand why Farklas began a project after his retirement that allowed him not only to indulge his woodworking skills, but also to contribute to beautifying the forest near his hometown.  

He began sculpting loose stumps and the lower ends of dead trees in the forest into colorful representations of fairytale characters, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as well as other characters.

Farklas made these creations in an easily accessible, hilly piece of forest near the built-up area of Bürbach. In September 2018, the ensemble of fairytale characters had already taken shape in such a way that a local newspaper reported about it (only a photo, article is behind a paywall).

On the internet only limited information about Jürgen Farklas' art environment can be found. Sadly, the information in this post about his life and work is mainly based on the obituaries published after his death on October 2, 2021.

* Website Komoot with an entry about the ensemble of dwarfs 
* Obituary Jürgen Farklas

Jürgen Farklas
Dwarfs in the forest
57074 Bürbach, Siegen, Arnsberg region, North-Rhine-Westphalia State, Germany
can be visited freely
Google Maps with a series of 11 photos of the site

June 17, 2022

Denny Simonnet, Sculpteur des mers / Sculptor of the seas

this picture and the next ones
are screenprints from the video all below

Denny Simonnet's outsider art manifests itself in several places in his daily environment, not only in his garden and his house (Musée du recyclage des déchets/Waste Recycling Museum), but also on stretches of dune area and beach near his house.

His multiple art environment was created in the community of l'Herbaudiére, located at the extreme point of the island of Noirmoutier in France, in front of the French coast, facing the Atlantic Ocean.

Life and works

Denny Simonnet (May 28, 1965  - April 28, 2022) was born and grew up in l'Herbaudiére. 

After his primary education he went to a vocational training for fishermen in Nantes (Hydro Nantes), after which he could join the fishing by professionals as a lieutenant de pêche (fishing lieutenant).

He married and got a son and a daughter. 
this picture and the next ones (2016) courtesy of Sophie Lepetit,
from her weblog (unless indicated otherwise)

In 1995, when he was about 30 years old, he was struck by an illness, which prevented him from further practicing the profession of fisherman. He was declared unfit for work and had to give up his job as a fisherman and other professional activities.

In order to have a meaningful daytime activity, Simonnet started making creations from driftwood that could be found on the beach near his home. He became known as the sculptor of the sea,. Using simple tools and paint meant to maintain ships, he transformed the washed up chunks of wood into a variety of works of art.

Simonnet also collected all kinds of materials that he used to transform his house into a Waste Recycling Museum. And he created many drawings and paintings.

The images above and the drawing below give some impression of Simonnet's artistic activities in this vein.
a drawing by Simonnet of his house and garden 
amidst the living environment

Simonnet's sculptures

Due to their number, size and manner of processing and presentation, the sculptures made by Simonnet form an eye-catching part of his artistic activities.

The location where the sculptures are placed is also important. Simonnet's house is located at the end of a side street that ends at the beach and so there is an open connection between the area around he house and the beach. 

The sculptures  are displayed both in the garden of the house and in the area between the house and the sea.

The images in this post depict the sculptures mainly in a standing position, but Simonnet also made many sculptures that were placed in a lying shape. 

For example, an image (2013) on Streetview shows that in front of Simonnet's house a number of sculptures are just lying on the street.  

As above picture shows, the garden of the house as such, was not very orderly, but looked more like a workshop, with sculptures still in need of work, a way of presentation that is an extension of the presentation in the Waste Recycling Museum indoors.

The totems that adorn the toad to the beach (first image) have been worked with pruning shears and paint in such a way that, in particular, a man's head covered with a headgear appears on an otherwise unfinished pole.  

Due to the color scheme and the manner of arrangement the setup makes a heroic impression.

The four small-scale characters depicted around this text are also all of masculine character and have an appearance, with a piercing gaze and a specific look as if they were battered by life.

Simonnet also worked with textiles. He made colorful bags from washed up oyster bags, filling the holes with small objects found on the beach. 

He had also started embroidering scenes on a large cloth panel.

Simonnet's creations have not gone unnoticed by galleries along the French west coast. He had several exhibitions ranging from Saint Malo to La Rochelle. The first video below has scenes of an exposition in 2015.

this picture from Facebook 

Denny Simonnet passed away on April 28, 2022 at the age of 56. The news came to all who heard about it, much, much too soon....

* Article (December 2016) on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit, with a variety of pictures
* Page  "Le sculpteur des mers" on Facebook, with a lot of pictures

* Video (0.37, Facebook) of an exposition in 2015 when Simonnet was an artist for 20 years (May 14-20, 2015, Salorges, Noirmoutoir-en-l'Ile), an impression of his paintings and sculptures

* Video (4-10 April, 2022) by Simonnet on Facebook

Denny Simonnet
Sculptor of the seas
8 impasse Jules Mésier
l' Herbaudiére, Isle de-Noirmoutier, region Pays de la Loire, France
can be seen in public space

June 10, 2022

Yuri Antonov, Музей Храм Гомера / Museum the Temple of Homer

pictures (2021) courtesy of Mary Artamonova 

In Vyritsa, an urban community of some 12.000 inhabitants in Russia, some 60 km south of Saint Petersburg, a rather special art environment is located, referred to as Museum "Temple of Homer".

Life and works

This art environment includes the fully decorated interior of Yuri Antonov's apartment. 

Antonov was born in 1947 in Vyritsa and after a relevant study and education he became a chemist by profession. 

Although this is not mentioned in the available documentation, it is likely that he practiced this profession in Saint Petersburg, also until 1991 called Leningrad. 

Clues to this are that it has been reported that Antonov spend a lot of time in the Hermitage library and that he befriended Nikolai "Kolya" Vasin (1945-2018), a native of Leningrad who became a big fan of the Beatles in the 1960s/70s.

Vasin collected many records and memorabilia, which he displayed in his apartment, that became kind of a museum named the John Lennon Temple of Love, Peace and Music. 

Antonov had an artistic streak. He played music, wrote poems and in 1992, when he was already 45. he started making paintings, which soon got exhibitions in galleries.

In 2001 Antonov moved into an apartment in his hometown Vyritsa. Following the example of his friend Vasin, he transformed the two rooms of the apartment into a museum space by decorating all the walls and ceilings with frescoes and paintings he created himself. 

Because of his great interest in the Greek classical ages, he named the museum Temple of Herod.

The images in this post give an impression of the way the walls are completely filled with mostly small-scale paintings, which often include references to paradise and the history of ancient Greece. 

The ceilings are also decorated, for example with aliens and the god Hermes.

The documentation below has a reference to an article by Alena Bobrovich from October 2021, which includes a large number of images both of individual paintings by Antonov, as well as of the decorations of the walls and, in particular, the ceilings.

* Entry on Facebook (December 2021) by Mary Artamonova
* Article (October 2021) in regional newspaper Metro by Alena Bobrovitsj
* The same article also in newspaper Bezformata

* Video by с орода  (July 2018, YouTube, 1'31")

с орода

Yuri Antonov
Museum the Temple of Homer
Vyritsa, dept Gatchinsky, region Leningrad, Russia
visitors welcome on appointment

June 03, 2022

Zoltán Alekszi, Magyar kastélyok másolatai / Replicas of Hungarian castles

all pictures courtesy of Sergio Flaquer Carrera
screenprints from a video he made

Dinnyés is a small community in Hungary with a few hundred permanent residents, part of the municipality of Gárdony. The village, located southwest of Budapest, has a lot of tourist potential. 

This is partly due to the proximity of Lake Velence, and for  another part it is related to the presence of a two-hectare site with a display of miniatures of historic Hungarian castles, with a map as in the image below.

Life and works

This site, an art environment in the category miniature constructions and scenes, was created by Zoltán Alekszi.

Born in the 1970s in the city of Debrecen, as a child he dreamed of building a large castle for himself. When he became an adult, he settled in Budapest, where he started a business in the construction and maintenance of gardens and parks.

The thought of inhabiting a castle did not leave him, but Alekszi realized that it would remain a dream, and that he had better take a different approach with regard to castles in his native country. 

When an illness prevented him from sustaining the effort of running his business, the idea took shape to create miniatures to demonstrate and record the history of the castles that had been established in Hungary over the centuries, many of which had disappeared.

Alekszi read many books and articles on the subject, talked with archaeologists and experts and got familiar with data delivered during the excavations of sites of lost castles, 

He also explored how to build a realistic scaled-down copy of these castles, because he wanted his miniatures to reflect the original as much as possible, both in form and in use of materials.

In 2012 Alekszi actually started making miniatures and then, located on a two hectare site he had acquired after careful search, the exhibition of miniature castles opened its doors in 2014. at that time presenting almost twenty creations.

It is Alekszi's intention that the collection will eventually comprise 70 replicas. Currently (2022) some 44 replicas are ready.. Wikipedia has a list of the castles on display with their name and location

The second image from above in this article shows that the miniatures are surrounded by a footpath. This path marks the borders of historic Hungary. Each replica has a sign with a short explanation, if possible with an image of the castle, sometimes as it still exists, often only in the form of a heap of stones.

Alekszi's site is unique because the replicas as faithfully as possible reproduce the appearance of the castles, while they also have been constructed from the original materials, such as stone, brick, wood or earth. 

Along the walking path are 90 poles, each of which is dedicated to a Hungarian dignitary (a king, a prince, a governor, etc) and pays attention to their most important deeds.

In addition to the replicas of the castles, there are other interesting exhibits. There is a Wall of the Saints, almost 300 meters long, with sculptures in memory of more than 600 saints. And in 2019, on an adjacent area an open-air museum was built, depicting a settlement from the time of the Árpáds, the ruling dynasty of Hungary from the 9th to the 12th century. There are buildings from that period, and scenes referring to crafts from that time, such as stonemason, fisherman, potter, leather worker and felt maker.

The exhibition has been included in the Guinness Book of Records in the years 2018-2021.

* Website of the park
Article by Szijjártó Gabriella (2019) on website Szabad Föld

* An early video (2015) by Gábor Nagy (YouTube, 3'12")

* A more recent video (2019?) by Odimix1 (YouTube, 11'02")

Zoltán Alekszi
Replicas of Hungarian castles
Kossuth utca 17
2485 Dinnyés, Hungary
visitors welcome (entrance fee)
see website for opening hours
Google Maps (with over 13000 photos)

May 27, 2022

János Csere, Bugaszeg birtok / Bugaszeg estate

all pictures courtesy of Sergio Flaquer Carrera
screenprints from a video he made

In the east of Hungary, south of Lake Balaton, the municipality of Balatonboglár has become known for a special farm, called Bugaszeg. From a political point of view it is special that Bugaszeg has declared itself an independent Republic, seen from the field of art environments it is special that the area of the Republic is full of singular architecture.

Life and works

János Csere, the president of the republic and the creator of the extensive singular architecture, was born  in the late 1940s into a farming family in Balatonboglár

He developed into a special personality. teaching himself to play the piano and violin, even though he couldn't read music and acquiring a large collection of books and paintings.  

But also in his work as a winegrower and winemaker he did an excellent job. He was good with people, and because he knew a lot about plants, for the inhabitants of Balatonboglár. he became the consultant of choice with regard to garden maintenance. 

There was an indication of his later activities as a builder of singular architecture. When he started building a chicken coop, the result was a structure that had more of the allure of an inn.

Building Bugaszeg Estate


As the turn of the century approached, Csere was able to purchase a three-acre piece of land, located in a quiet area outside of Balatonboglár. In this way he and his wife hoped to leave the complications of the worldly environment behind.

In the year 2000, when Csere was in his early 50s, he started to build the residential house on the acquired grounds.  He didn't mean to build anything special, but when for construction reasons he had to add a support, he got the idea to make something more special of the project. 

It became a country house with the allure of a castle, three stories high, a cellar and an interior with corridors and large halls, a property referred to as Téglagaléria (Brick Gallery).

Indeed, the building functions as kind of a museum, because nowadays visitors have free access to (part of) the corridors and rooms.

The above image shows how the rather imposing hallways of the house were decorated with paintings collected by Csere in previous years. 

The image below shows a part of Csere's collection of books, not housed in bookcases, but just lying loosely on desks, tables and the floor. The books range from Sartre, Nietzsche and Freud to publications on football and other popular sports.

There is also a spacious dining room, with a large table, which can accommodate a large group of guests. It may happen that a group of visitors is welcomed here and has a meeting with Csere on the spot, who tells about his activities.

After the construction of the house, 
more singular structures followed

Once Téglagaléria was built, Csere couldn't stop adding new structures to the site.

After ten years of work, in general using old stones and other material from demolished buildings, he didn't have to pay for, Csere had built up an estate with a variety of special forms of architecture, that broadly determined the character of the site as an art environment in the capacity of a singular architecture.

In the years that followed, to this day, Csere would continue to work on further detailing and development of the the built assortment that embellished the site.

kind of a face 
decorating a wall

Among the buildings Csere created, there are many towers, including a ten meter high bell tower. These towers are often interlinked in an inventive way. 

The images in this post show that the various towery structures do not have a common shape, but often have their own decorative structure, with almost no tower being the same as another.

towery structures

There are also some isolated high rising structures. 

The image below shows the Trauma Gate, which  commemorates the losses suffered by Hungary. The tower stands on the edge of the site and the passage is closed with an iron gate.

the Trauma Gate

Near this gate is a monument, as depicted in the image below. The creation pays tribute to Csere's father, about whom the caption says in capital letters: szerette a kosszarvu paprikát  (he loved chili peppers)

The site also includes two specific areas, sheltered by trees and separated by a single row of acacia sticks, one is called the Holt költők társasága (Dead Poets Society) and commemorates the great names of world literature and Hungarian literature, the other area, called Magyarok útja (The way of the Hungarians) is dedicated to important figures of Hungarian history.

There are also facilities on the site where animals such as horses, sheep, rabbits and chickens are housed.  A stable houses mangalica piglets, a variety of pigs bred in Hungary, characterized by a thick, curly coat.

Vegetables and plants are grown in the Gecsemáné Garden, where one finds, as a sign says "almost all known Hungarian fruits and vegetables, from olive trees and green peas to poppies."

János Csere, the creator of this art environment, is a warm, hospitable but somewhat headstrong personality, who did not hesitate to declare the area that he himself transformed into a work of art as a Republic. 

A letter of Csere written in 2015, requesting the European Union to recognize his territory as a state, went unanswered. The constitutional status of the site makes little difference to the many visitors to the site;  their appreciation for what they experience during their visit remains mostly very positive, as shown by the reactions published on Google Maps (see below)

* The site on Facebook, with a variety of videos
* Article by Lásló Barkóczy (October 2018) on  website Sonline 
* Article by Iván Viktória (May 2017) on website We Love Balaton
* Article on the website for tourists of the municipality of Balatonboglár

* On YouTube several videos about Csere and his site are available, mostly Hungarian spoken
* The video The words of Bugaszeg gospel (2017) by László Zadori (YouTube, 13'36") has subtitles in English

János Csere

Bugaszeg Estate
Zrínyi utca 72.
8630 Balatonboglár, Hungary
visitors welcome, donation appreciated
Google maps refers to both the Gallery and the Republic; all together there
are thousands of photos from the site to see

May 20, 2022

Sylvi Hauhia, Veistoksia vesimyllyssä ja galleriassa ja sen ympäristössä / Sculptures in and around a watermill and gallery

pictures courtesy of
Heli Kallio-Kauppinen and Raija Kallioinen

The photo above very well summarizes what the following post is essentially about, namely a mill (symbolized by the grindstone), two sculptures (representing an extensive display of sculpted creations)  and all of this surrounded by a beautiful landscape.

This landscape is depicted in the two images below, where the two sculpted characters, lined up along the edge of the forest, are overlooking the Vaalimaanjoki river in south-east Finland.

Welcome to Sylvia Hauhia's art environment, which is very special, not only because of the hundreds of attractive and captivating sculptures the site includes, but also because of the way they are arranged in a very natural way, both in the landscape and in a variety of buildings.

Life and works

Sylvi Hauhia, born in 1928, grew up in Hauhia, a small village that is part of the municipality of Miehikkälä, with about 1800 inhabitants, located in south-east Finland not far from the border between Finland and Russia. 

Sylvi was 11 years old when the family was evacuated after Russia at the end of November 1939  invaded Finland without a declaration of war. The Winter War, as the battle is called in Finland, ended in mid-March 1940 and Finland had to give up parts of the country. The Salpalinja, the 1200 km defense line along Finland's eastern border, built in the years 1940/44, bisects the municipality of Miehikkälä, which also houses a museum dedicated to the line

Returned to Hauhia, as a teenager Sylvi already felt attracted to making small-scale sculptures from clay.

In 1953, when she was in her mid-20s and had married, she and her husband moved into a house near the mill of Hauhia, located near a rapids named Hauhiankoski (Hauhian Rapids) in the Vaalimaanjoki river,  just outside the village. Her husband was a farmer and Sylvi assisted him in caring for the cattle. 

Currently (2022) in her 90s, Sylvi Hauhia has lived in this area for some seventy years, steadily working on her collection of sculptures, which now includes some thousand creations.


Initially Sylvi mainly made small sculptures, as can be seen in the surrounding images, with above a scene of a group of people dancing, perhaps a memory of her wedding or a comparable festivity. 

These and similar scenes fill the shelves of a barn on the premises of the mill, near Sylvi's home, an exposition space opened in the summer of 2021 and referred to as Gallery Sylvi.

The small-scale creations, mainly made of clay, have a benign, sympathetic appearance and are often based on the artist's personal experiences. Sylvi collected the necessary clay by paddling in the rapids and scraping the material from the bottom with her own hands. 

Real handicraft indeed ....

After living in the house near the mill for some time, Sylvi Hauhia started making large-sized sculptures, as the following series of images shows. 

These sculptures, mostly made of cement, currently are partly set up in the outdoor space of the mill and can be freely visited. 

Another part, some hundred sculptures, is exhibited in the courtyard of the mill and in the residential building near the mill, where the collection can be visited (freely) during opening hours. 

The images show that these creations also mainly radiate a good-natured atmosphere, with mostly everyday characters in everyday situations (Sylvi and her husband are the couple shown in the image below right).

The Hauhia mill

The Hauhia watermill dates from 1882 and was created thanks to the carpenter Petter Lundgren and the farmers Emmanuel Hauhia and Erkki Hauhia.  In August 1885 the mill was bought by Sylvester Manikin, who became a respected miller whose company contributed to the food supply in the area.

In the 1920s the mill was equipped with a sawmill and later an electricity generator was installed, which supplied the village with electricity. This machinery is now obsolete and no longer works

In January 2020, Markku Hauhia, a son of Sylvi Hauhia, bought the mill and surroundings, and as part of an environmental project to improve the river basin, the mill was refurbished.

Rearranging the site

Since that purchase, the Hauhia family has worked to give the area around the mill a new allure, promoting the site as an artistic and recreational facility.

The barn at Sylvi's house, in former days a cow house, but currently no more used as such,
reopened in 2021 as Galleria Sylvi Hauhia.

A small coffee shop was installed with some tables and chairs, making a small terrace available to the visitors. Not far from the mill, bicycles and rowing boats can be rented.

The outdoor arrangement of the large sculptures was adapted to the new character of the site.

In January 2022, the Regional Advisory Council for Environmental Policy announced that the Hauhiankosken (Hauhian Rapids) environmental project, which also included the renovation of the mill, was the best environmental project of 2021.

the three young men in the image above are sons of Sylvi Hauhia, 
one of the three is Markku Hauhia

Hauhia village website
* Hauhian Milly on Facebook
* Entry on the website ITE taide
* Entry about the village of Hauhia on the website of the municipality of Miehikkälä

* Video on the Facebook page of Hauhian Mily

Sylvi Hauhia
Sculptures in and around a watermill and gallery
Hauhiantie Road 340 
49700 village of Hauhia, municipality of Miehikkälä, region Southern Finland, Finland
visitors welcome (a donation is appreciated)
info about opening hours of the gallery and the coffee shop 
on the Facebook-page of the site