February 23, 2024

Eugène Juif, Maison décorée / Decorated house

this picture and the next three (1983) published here in agreement
with photographer Francis David, as on website Habitants-Paysagistes

In the small French community of Vy-les-Lure, with today about 700 inhabitants, a colorfully decorated house could be admired for many years along the Grande Rue (also departmental road D 486).

Life and works

This extensive decorative project was undertaken by Eugène Juif, who lived in this house with his wife Caroline for many years. 

There is little biographical information about him. He was a forester, who spent his spare time decorating both the exterior walls and the interior of the house. At the time the photos in this post were made, he had been retired for many years.

Before the decorations were added to the exterior wall of the house and the adjacent garage, these walls were painted bright yellow. The colorful decorations painted on these surfaces, mostly depicted large bunches of flowers in red pots.

The stone pillars and the edge of the fence along the street were also provided with striking colours. The top of the pillars were crowned with small sculptures of white birds.

Many interior spaces were also decorated, such as the bedroom depicted in the photo at the very bottom of this text.

And then, the couple's convertible was also put in the spotlight with floral motifs.

Eugène Juif in front of his decorated house

A photo of that convertible can be seen on the Lille Art Museum's website Habitants-Paysagistes. In addition to photographs by Francis David, the series also includes images from the collections of l'Aracine and Louise Tournay

* A series of photographs of the site by Francis David and others on the website Habitants-Paysagistes (Lille Art Museum)
* The site has a review in Bruno Montpied, Le gazouillis des éléphants, Paris (Ed du Sandre), 2017

Eugène Juif
Maison décorée
Grande Rue 40

Vy-les-Lure, dept Haute-Saône, région Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

decorations don't exist anymore

February 17, 2024

Albert Barry, Jardin décoré / Decorated garden

pictures are screenprints
from the video (2006) in the documentation

Balaruc le Vieux is a small town with about 2600 inhabitants (2019) located in the Hérault area in the south of France near the Mediterranean Sea. Along the Avenue des Bains that leads to the seaside resort of Balaruc-les-bains, there was an art environment in the capacity of a decorated garden.

Life and works

This site is a creation of Albert Barry (February 20, 1908-July 2, 2000), who started the project in 1974 when he retired at the age of 66.

Barry had a career in viticulture, first as a winegrower in the vicinity of Balaruc-le-Vieux, later as director of the local winegrowing cooperative.

When he retired he had some health problems and doctors advised him to take it very, very easy. 

But Barry was afraid that doing so would make him waste away in boredom and he decided to take up the hobby of painting that he already had loved as a child. 

So he began making all kinds of painting indoors, but he was also attracted to making a variety of sculptures to brighten up the garden with all kinds of scenes.

It became a project of many years, in which he made many sculptures of animals, such as a small rabbit next to a panther, a turtle showing the way to a large peacock, a large pink flamingo, a toucan and a gibbon.

The series of photos provides an impression of Barry's collection of animal sculptures.

In addition to animal sculptures, he also made a miniature castle, as shown in the image at the very top.

And in the second photo from the top, Mickey Mouse appears, a character designed by Walt Disney in 1928.

Barry used all kinds of materials, such as concrete and iron, but also wood and plastic. 

Residents from the area also brought him items that were no longer used, such as when someone came to him with a basket of billiard balls that were no longer used. Barry was happy with them and transformed them into some winter-proof flower arrangements

Albert Barry died in June 2002, at the age of 92. Currently his art environment doesn't exist anymore.

* Article Le Jardin d'Albert Barry by Yvonne Bruel in periodical Gazogène 17
* Albert Barry has a review in Bruno Montpied, La Gazouillis des Éléphants, Paris (Ed. du Sandre), 2017

* Video (2007, 18.47, Daily Motion)  by Frédéric Boj et Marc Ayral

Albert Barry
Decorated garden

Avenue des Bains

Balaruc le Vieux, dept Hérault, region Occitanie, France

this art environment doesn't exist anymore


February 09, 2024

Marcel Lambert, Jardin décoré / Decorated garden

 entrance of the site
this  image and the next one as on Google Streetview (2021)

Jargeau is a municipality with about 4,600 inhabitants (2021) located along the Loire River, twenty kilometers east of Orléans. Around 1900, an art environment was created here, parts of which still exist, as can be seen  from the street.

Life and works

The house on the site, built in 1845, was purchased from a relative in 1895 by Marcel Lambert (1853-1921). It cannot be said with certainty what profession he had, but the assumption has been made that he was an amateur archaeologist, who may also have processed his finds in the region in the garden of the house.

The entrance to the garden in which the house was located (image above) was on the Rue de l'Echo. 

Lambert bought additional strips of land and so the garden. as a kind of urban estate, extended to the next parallel street, the Rue d'Orléans, where there was a artistically executed fence to enclose it (image below).
decorative fencing at the rear of the site

When Lambert died in his late sixties in 1921, he had transformed the resulting extensive space around his house into an art environment richly filled with creations. In addition to the towers already mentioned, he created numerous sculptures, many of which had a classical appearance. But he also made other types of creations, such as a cave.

To get an impression of the nature of the decorations applied by Lambert, one mainly has to rely on the postcards that were made during Lambert's lifetime. After Lambert died, the house was occupied by heirs, who generally did not open the garden to the public, a situation that apart from some rare exceptions. continues to this day.

In fact, on the internet only a publication from the regional Tourist Office is available that somewhat extensive provides information about the various elements that adorned the garden (see documentation).

this image and the next one are old postcards
Elements of the decorated garden

As mentioned, the towers, visible from the street, are still present today. There is a small iron tower to see, with a knight figure on the battlements, the only remaining one of a group of three. On the other side is a somewhat larger stone tower.

A part of the garden has been dedicated to Greek mythology. This section was formed by sculptures of the Three Fates, with on the left Clotho, goddess of birth, who unrolls the thread of life, in the middle Lachesis, who holds the thread as god of adulthood and on the right Atropos, the god of death, cutting the thread of life. 

At the bottom of this arrangement was a bas-relief depicting scenes from human life and an inscription in Greek saying Time passes and does not return.

Another referral to Greek mythology was a wall of the house, decorated with images of gods of Olympus such as Vulcan, Ceres, Bacchus and Jupiter cut from metal plates.

There were many sculptures in the garden, such as a child with a duck, two sheep standing on a piece of grass and a duo depicting Jean laughing and Jean crying. There were also two sculptures that seemed to stand guard and could also function as gargoyles, actually spewing rainwater.

There was also a fake cave in the garden. The story is that Marcel Lambert convinced visitors that from that cave there were underground passages, dating from the Middle Ages and leading to the Loire.

Thus a brief description of the rich collection of creations present in the art environment when Marcel Lambert died in 1921. What the garden looks like more than a hundred years later, is difficult to determine via the internet.

* Article (2020) Le jardin artistique Jargeau by the Office de Tourisme Intercommunal Val de Loire & Foret d’Orléans
* Article (October 2011) by Jean-Michel Chesné on his weblog
* The site was reviewed in the book by Bruno Montpied, Le Gazouillis des Éléphants, Paris (Ed. du Sandre), 2017 

Marcel Lambert

Decorated garden

Rue de l'Echo

Jargeau, dept Loiret, region Centre-Val de Loire, France

no visits, towers can be seen from the street

February 02, 2024

José Domínguez Carbajo, El Recreo / The recreation

this image and the next two from Google Streetview

Roales, a community with some 900 inhabitants (2018), is located on a pilgrimage route to Santiago del Compostela. From this town it is about a 350 km walk in a north-westerly direction to reach that destination.

Anyone who enters Roales from the south will soon pass the garden with sculptures as shown above.

the entrance of the garden
Life and works

This garden is a creation of José Dominguez Carbajo (1936-2017), who was born in a commune not far from Roales. After primary school, he went to work for a company that built roads. He married and the couple went to live in Roales. They got a number of children and grandchildren, most of whom live in Roales.

Although Carbajo enjoyed drawing at a young age, artistic pursuits did not materialize until the age of 68, when he was retired. He had a vegetable garden near the southern entrance to Roales and he gradually started to fill it with sculptures.
another view from the street of the garden

Working with cement, which he painted with striking colours, he made a series of sculptures, some of which were life-size.

Starting at the entrance on the south side of the garden, we first see two eagles guarding the entrance on top of columns and then a life-size giraffe, as can be seen in the second photo from the top. 

In addition to the giraffe, there are numerous other animal sculptures, such as a wolf, a deer and the growling three-headed dog Cerberus

this picture from Sophie Lepetit's weblog

Carbajo's  art environment also has some striking sculptures, such as St. James galloping on a white horse in a flowing robe. The image above is a close up of James on horseback and the even higher image shows him riding the horse.

Another striking sculpture in this site is the person with the backpack in the very first image which depicts a walker on the pilgrimage route leading toward Santiago de Compostela. A website of a couple walking the route shows a photo of the art environment, of which they say they passed with a smile.

above two pictures also from Sophie Lepetit's weblog

The two photos above also show a special scene, on the upper one the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and on the bottom one the serpent that tempted them to eat the apple from the tree of knowledge.

The images from Google Streetview in this post were taken in July 2023. They show that Carbajo's art environment is still in good condition after his death in 2017. This probably thanks to family members living in Roales.

* Article (2014) by Jo Farb Hernandez on the website of SPACES, with a variety of images
* Article June 2017) in Spanish newspaper La Opinion

José Dominguez Carbajo
El Recreo
83 C. Gral. Franco
Roales, dept Zamora, region Castilla y Léon, Spain
site can be seen from the road

January 26, 2024

Jim Donnelly, Outside of house decorated with protest signs

this picture (September 2021) and the next three
screenprints from
Google Maps

The Scottish art environments reviewed so far in this blog, such as those created by Alex Batchelor, Frank Bruce, William R. Bisset and the anonymous maker of the shell decorated property Shelleen, are all situated in small towns or rural areas.

However, the Scottish art environment discussed in this article, is located in the large city of Glasgow, and not in a back street, but along the London Road, one of the major thoroughfares in the city.

August 2008
Life and works

The creator of this art environment, Jim Donnelly (also James Donnelly or JD), was born in 1941. He became a trader at a market in Glasgow called Barras, a special market focused on the sale of handmade products. He also developed as an outsider artist, mainly working on a variety of paintings in a personal style.

Donnelly was probably married, because available documentation states that a daughter died when she was 26 years old. However, in the following story about the part of his life that began in his early sixties, no wife appears.

On November 8, 2002, a large group of police officers searched Donnelly's house in connection with stolen jewelry belonging to the mother of Princess Diana, who lived in a house on the island of Seil, 185 kilometers north-west of Glasgow.

The search of the house was probably correct in a formal sense, but it was based on a rather vague description of the perpetrator, in which the Glasgow police believed they recognized Donelly, who as a market trader was more or less a public figure in Glasgow. 

The raid by the police deeply affected Donnelly. As a suspected thief, he felt he was being treated very unfairly and moreover, the search of the house had caused all kinds of irreparable damage to the house.
September 2012

The police saw no reason to improve the situation with some form of compensation and continued to adopt a formalistic approach.

Donnelly, for his part and given his artistic background, saw no other way to express his disappointment and find compensation for his sadness, than by transforming the space in front of his house into an area of protest expressions.

It became a project that continues to this day and the site is regularly provided with new expressions. The first manifestation was relatively modest in size, but gradually an extensive and colorful set of signs emerged that filled the entire strip along the street in front of the house.

The protest signs include various texts that refer to the theft of the jewelry or speak of illegal activities by the police, but there are also images that express how Donelly experienced the event, for example an image of the face of a man with the word gagged between his lips, snakes wriggling on the sign, heads of men with their finger in front of their mouth to indicate that there is silence .....

July 2019

In December 2015, a petition was sent to Nicola Sturgeon, at that time political leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland, asking her to pay attention to the conflict and to do justice to Jim Donnelly, but this did not lead to action.

* Article by Katherine Sutherland in Raw Vision #116 (December 2023)
* Pictures on Instagram
* Article, August 2018, in Scottish newspaper Daily Record, with photos
* Article, February 2023, in newspaper Scottish Daily Express

* Video by Mark Gillies JD and the jewels (8.08, YouTube, December 2020) 

Jim Donnelly
Outside of house decorated with protest signs
1467 London Road, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
can be seen from the street

January 19, 2024

Oleg Arkhipov, Дом украшен большой сферой / House decorated with a large sphere

this image from regional journal Sobaka

In the Russian village of Vysokoklyuchevoyten, located south of St Petersburg, there has been a house with all kinds of decorations, especially a large sphere on the roof.

Life and works

This singular architecture was created by Oleg Petrovich Arkhipov (1939-2010), who worked all his life in St Petersburg as a machine maintenance engineer.

He was in his early twenties when Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961 made the first space flight around the world, and young Arkhipov was deeply impressed by the dawn of the space age. He collected all kinds of stamps and postcards related to space. 

this image and the next two (2021) by 
Oleg Everzov in his article about the site

When in the early 1970s he inherited from his father a wooden house in the village of Vysokoklyuchevoyten, he came up with the idea of adding an an extension that would express space travel as a new, very special happening in world history.

The idea did not let him go and in the mid-1970s he indeed started working on a construction project on which he would work for more than twenty years. Arkhipov and his wife Nina Vasilievna went to live in the wooden house that he had inherited from his father.

The structure he had in mind was a creation in which he wanted to express in his own way what kind of images space travel generated in his world of thought. It should be a house with a sphere on the roof surrounded by a large circular ribbon. 

As the very first image shows, Arkhipov indeed succeeded in producing such a representation. 

One can say that the upper part of the resulting creation evokes associations with the world as a globe as it exists in space, or also something like a capsule with which space is explored. The load-bearing substructure is made of reinforced concrete, where the design of the extensive windows, made of brick and bottle bases, is particularly striking.

He also constructed a landing site for spaceships on the area around the art environment. However, the aliens did not come.

Arkhipov, who had no training in construction or architecture, had to pay the costs of purchasing building materials from his salary and this was only possible with a small amount each time. This made it a long-term project.

His wife had no problem with her husband being so busy with his construction work, but in his family Arkhipov's efforts were seen as a waste of time and energy.

Disaster struck shortly after the construction was completed in the mid-1990s. 

A fire completely destroyed the wooden house and also damaged parts of the house with the sphere. 

Rebuilding the wooden house was considered, but in the end Arkhipov and his wife decided that it would cost too much. They found temporary shelter in a rented house and then bought their own home.

The house with the orb was left unattended and no one in the family felt like renovating the abandoned property. 

Arkhipov and his wife both died in 2010. Their son and daughter did not accept their father's inheritance and the house's decline continued.

Ten years later, in 2020, the ball fell off the roof. No aliens landing, nor happy ending .....

* Article on the website Sobaka
* Article on the website Fiesta
Article (June 2021) by Oleg Everzov on website Dzen

Oleg Arkhipov House decorated with a large sphere

Pushkinskaya Street

Vysokoklyuchevoy,  region Leningrad, Russia

January 12, 2024

Esteve Torrents Grau, La Cabana dels Nans / The Gnomes Hut

the cabin and the welcome sign
pictures are screenprints from the video in the documentation 

La  Garriga is a Spanish community with about 16,000 inhabitants in the region of Catalunya. 

Located about 42 km north of Barcelona, the little town is surrounded by a beautiful hilly and wooded area, where it is pleasant to make walks. Various routes can be found on the internet and the art environment La Cabana del Nans, reviewed here, is also located along such a route. .

a gnome still present

Life and works

The story begins with Enrico Giro, a resident of La Garrida, who owned the piece of forest where the Gnomes Hut now stands. He used the site as a place to relax, alone or with family members. To provide some shade, he stretched a cloth between some of the trees around..

One of his relatives was his son-in-law Esteve Torrents Grau, who in the 1950s would transform the place into an art environment.

Esteve was a construction worker by profession and he knew what bricklaying entailed, but above all he had a creative mind and was a dedicated person. 

He got the idea to turn the place into something special, discussed his ideas with his father-in-law, who agreed with the project that Esteve had in mind, namely a kind of sculpture park that would give the area its own artistic character and, above all, where the other family members and their children could enjoy themselves.

And so the creation of the art environment started, a project that was implemented by using no more used items and materials available in the area as much as possible.

a damaged sculpture

Esteve's first action involved the shade cloth. He envisioned that the shelter should become a real hut and starting with that, he first made a roof, as if it were a parasol, which led passing hikers to refer to the place in the forest as the mushroom.

Later, Esteve added walls to the roof and finished the rear part of the hut, for all parts using old and surplus materials. 

He then turned his attention to decorating the site. One of the first projects was to create a series of gnomes, including a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a choice that is understandable given the number of grandchildren in the family. This collection also led to a reference to gnomes in the name of the art environment.

 Nowadays there are not many gnomes left to be seen, because their manageable size made them easy to steal.

the gorilla
a totem pole

Esteve also made all kinds of creations that depicted animals, such as a variety of birds, a group of pigs, a frog, a deer, a lion, a huge gorilla, but also a fantasy creation of a huge dragon hugging trees.

In the spirit of imaginative creations, he also made an enormous structure based on a tree stump with the appearance of an angry person, with branches for arms and a face with eyes, a nose and a mouth in the bark.

And then there were special personalities on display, such as King Kong and a hunter with a bow and arrow.

The site also had two windmills, but these have now disappeared.

a lion

After Esteve Torrents Grau died at some moment (the date is not available on the internet), the art environment was less systematically maintained. The sculptures became neglected and some fell prey to vandalism and damage.

However, his family has now announced that they want to start a restoration project to revive the dart environment and restore it to how it was before. A website has been published in which this plan is explained in more detail and all kinds of information and photo material from the past are available (see below).

* Website The Gomes Hut by the family of the Esteve Torrents Grau, with info about the renovation; this website also has a series of some 50 photos that give an impression of the various sculptures that decorated the art environment
* Review of the site in Jo Farb Hernandez, Singular Spaces II(5 continents editions, 2023)
Weblog of photographer Marco Pachiega, with an article (November 2022) about the site and a series of photos 
* Tripadvisor, with a series of photos 

* Video El Bosque Encantado (YouTube, 5.45, July 2022) by Enric and Ani

Esteve Torrents Grau
The Gnomes Hut
In line with the Carrer Poatells
in the woods east of
La Garriga, dept Barcelona, region Catalunya, Spain
can be visited freely
the site on Google Maps, with a large series of photos