February 03, 2023

Tiziana Busi, Decorazioni natalizie all'uncinetto in una cappella / Crochet Christmas decorations in a chapel

this picture and the next one (December 2022)
by Barbara Busi (as on Google Maps)

The picture above shows the Christmas decorations in the Cappella Di Santa Chiara in the old center of Pieve di Cento, a community of about 6800 inhabitants in Italy, 30 km north of Bologna.

This Christmas scene is a special one, not only because, at 100 m², it is among the largest in Italy, but also because of the crochet work that has been done to create the variety of characters.

Life and work

There is virtually no biographical information available on the internet about Tiziana Busi, the artist who made these special Christmas decorations. She lives in Pieve di Cento and was probably also born and raised there.

When exactly she started making crocheted characters for a Christmas scene is not clear, but it is known that in December 2022 the exhibition took place for the seventh time.

This for the chapel annual event, entitled Gaudete et exultate: nato per farci santi (Rejoice and be glad: Born to make us saints), usually takes place from Christmas Day in December to mid-January, 
this picture and he next four courtesy of Francesco Galli,
from his website

Apart from the traditional figures included in a nativity scene, such as Joseph and Mary with the newborn Jesus, shepherds from the area and the three kings from further afield, Tiziana's creation is populated by all kinds of characters who go about their daily activities, inserted in urban and rural and scenes.

The site includes creations that depict famous people from the Roman Catholic world, such as Mother Teresa (1910-1997), Pope Francis (appointed 2013), Cardinal Giacomo Biffi (Archbishop of Bologna 1928-2015). 

And there are creations depicting well known people from a completely different world, such as the Italian boxer from Pieve di Cento  Franco Cavicchi (1928-2018).

Seen from the field of art environments, this Christmas scene is special because of the various buildings that are part of it. 

At first glance it may not be so clear, but the outside of these buildings is covered with crocheted material, designed in such a way that windows and doors, but also columns and roofs, appear realistic. This also applies to the pavement. 

For residents of Pieve di Cento it must be a nice experience to see replicas of the local parochial church Santa Maria Maggiore and of the four gates that mark the main access roads of the city, the Porta Asia , Porta Cento, Porta Bologna and the Porta Ferrara.

And there are also buildings further away such as the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and churches from nearby Bologna, such as the Santuario di Madonna di San Luca and the Saint Petronius Basilica.

Article on the website of photographer Francesco Galli, with pictures

* Video
On Facebook Watch there is a video (11'16") with scenes from this art environment. Although it can be shared, after sharing the video appears as inaccessible.

Tiziana Busi 
Christmas decorations in the Cappella Di Santa Chiara
22 Via Luigi Galuppi

Pieve di Cento, dept Bologna, region Emilia-Romagna, Italy

freely accessible between December 25 and mid-January

Google Maps

January 27, 2023

Rodney Sjöberg, Betelhöjdens Minikyrka / Betelhöjden's Mini Church

pictures are screenprints from the video
referred to in the documentation

Along the Kobergsvägen road, between the communities of Koberg and Upphärad in Sweden, a self-built church, probably the smallest in the country, rises on a wooded hilly terrain.

Life and work

This singular architecture was created by Rodney Sjöberg (1929-2020), who lived in Trollhättan, a community slightly north of the small church. He was a son of the local pastor, was trained as a teacher and had a job as such. In addition to his work as a teacher, he was very interested in musical instruments, which he not only played, but also constructed or renovated himself.

On his initiative, the Nordic Psalmodicon Association was founded in 1993, an association of lovers of a string instrument known in Sweden, which is struck lying on a modified ironing board.

The terrain that houses this little church, was originally owned by a couple living in a nearby community. It was used for religious purposes, like a mission house was built in the 1940s that was managed by the Sollebrunn mission community.

When the missionary congregation became inactive in 1997, after some time the site was put up for sale and Rodney Sjöberg and his wife Lisbeth bought the property. 

Initially their idea was to use it for a summer residence, but since the land was originally used for spiritual and religious activities, they eventually decided to continue that tradition, maybe also because Rodney Sjöberg one night had a dream about building a small church. 

After reflecting on that dream the next morning he made a small cardboard model of the church as it had appeared in his dream. In 2000, in his early seventies and retired from his job as a teacher, he actually started building the little church he had dreamed of.

It became a structure with a floor area of 1.5 m² that can accommodate up to five people. The interior has a pulpit, a baptismal font and there are candleholders.

The dedication, attended by 80 people, took place in 2004 on the evening of Ascension Day. The bell in the bell tower on the roof of the small church was rung, Sjöberg played a hymn on a soprano saxophone and clergymen from nearby congregations blessed the church.

The church is always open and can be used for individual devotions, but also for other ceremonies such as baptisms and weddings.

A side note is that a neighboring motorcycle club has designated the church as their church. This has spread to other motorcycle clubs and they also visit regularly.

It has been said that Sjöberg had the intention to make a small organ with wooden pipes as was done in the Middle Ages, but there is no further information on this.

Rodney Sjöberg died in 2020 when he was in his early 90s. It may be assumed that a local congregation takes care of the maintenance of the small church.

* Article (September 2007) on Ttella website
* A variety of photos on  Picuki website

* Video by Susann Engeling (YouTube, 2022, 2'25")

Rodney Sjöberg, 
Betelhöjdens Mini Church, 
Kobergsvägen, Koberg, Sweden
can be visited

January 20, 2023

Mario Goldoni, Maison dite "Soleil sans fin" / House called "Soleil sans fin" (Endless sun)

view of the garden around 1982, courtesy of Francis David,
as on the website Habitants-paysagistes
© Lille Art Museum 
© Francis David

On April 23, 2011, this weblog had a post entitled Visiting some environments in northern France with Laurent Jacquy. This post listed a number of art environments in Northern France, based on the information collected by Laurent Jacquy in his weblog Les Beaux Dimanches.

Among the sites reviewed in this article are those by Joseph Meyer en Monsieur Goldoni. It so happened that at the beginning of September 2014, Joseph Meyer, who built a castle in the outer space of his house in Berck-Plage, got his own review.

And now it's Monsieur Goldoni's turn to get his own review.

decorated exterior of "Soleil sans fin"  in 2011
this picture and the one  of the left below 
courtesy of Laurent Jacquy

Life and work

Mario Goldoni (1922-1994) was born on January 16, 1922 in San-Possidonio, a city in the north of Italy. 

He became a craftsman, mainly working as a mason, and emigrated to France in his mid-20s, after the end of the Second World War when France could use a large workforce.

His permanent residence in France became Quesnoy-sur-Airaines, a small commune with 475 inhabitants (2005) in the Somme area in Northern France. He married a French woman and had six children. His wife died before all the children had grown up and Goldoni was largely responsible for their upbringing.

the same scene in 2022
detail of the garden (2011)

In 1965, when Goldoni was in his early 40s and had become a widower, he began to transform the garden on the street side of his house into an art environment by placing all kinds of creations there, both made of wood and cement.

The very first image in this post, made around 1982 by Francis David and published in his book Guide de l’art insolite Nord/Pas-de-Calais (1984), gives an impression of the nature and extent of the decorations that were added to the site over the previous 15+ years.

We see a variety of wooden creations, such as a windmill and some houses and tower-like small buildings, there is a scene with snow white and gnomes grouped in front of two cylindrical towers. Goldoni was busy making the creations in the evenings, when the children were asleep.

After Goldoni died at the age of 72 on August 29, 1994, the size of the art environment, which had already existed for almost thirty years, began to decline. Due to lack of maintenance and vandalism, the wooden structures disappeared and small sculptures were also stolen.

The second photo from above, which presents the situation of garden and house in 2011, shows how little had remained of the originally lavishly decorated garden. 

However, the decorations above the door and on the facade of the house are still untouched and the sculpture of a young lady is unmistakably present (although the color of her clothes has changed).

the entrance of he house in 2022
this picture and the next ones
courtesy of Sonia Terhzaz

The latter also applies to the situation in 2022 when Sonia Terhzaz visited the site. 

The decorations around the entrance door, the sculpture of the young lady and the characters standing in the background were still in good condition.

This also applies to the decorations in the interior of the house, which, as it turned out, was inhabited by Marie-Hélène, a daughter of Goldoni, 64 years old in 2022. 

Sonia was welcome to visit the interior and take pictures of paintings and decorations made by Goldoni, 

It turned out that Marie-Héléne, who was still saddened by the passing of her father, in many ways was involved in the maintenance of the artistic legacy, for example, by recoloring items whose paint has faded.

The floors of the house were apparently paved by Goldoni himself, using dissimilar cement tiles, which gave the house a special atmosphere of its own.

The five surrounding photos give an impression of Goldoni's decorations as they are in the interior, with in the top right photo not only a painting, but also a collection of miniatures with the same appearance as the castle-like structures that decorated the garden.

Then, pictured above, there is a decorative mantelpiece, surrounded by smaller creations.

Below are two small paintings in a round frame, which seem to evoke the atmosphere of a cozy family gathering, perhaps for Goldoni a reminder of earlier times.

* Entry (April 18, 2011) about Soleil sans Fin on the weblog of Laurent Jacquy
* Entry (January 28, 2023) about he site by Sonia Terhzaz on Facebook
Entry on the website Habitants-Paysagistes by Lille Art Museum, with a series of photographs of the site (around 1982) by Francis David 

Mario Goldoni
Maison "Soleil sans Fin" (Endless Sun)
1 place Clémenceau
Quesnoy-sur-Airaines, dept Somme, region Hauts-de-France, France

January 13, 2023

Monsieur David, Maison de conte de fées / Fairytale house

pictures from the video in the documentation

 Actually, it is not a fairytale house, but the shelter of a homeless man who has found a pitch in a wooded greenbelt along a river to live in. The structure is so imaginatively put together that it evokes the endearment of walkers and people in the area.

More about this site

The fairytale house is situated along the River Touch, which flows through Tournefeuille, a commune of about 28,000 inhabitants in the south of France, bordering Toulouse.

The extraordinary structure was created by Monsieur David when he was in his early 50s. For privacy reasons, his full name has not been disclosed. He worked as an animator in campsites and recreation centers.

The story begins in 2021 when Monsieur David, upon returning from his seasonal work, discovers that squatters have taken up residence in his house (which in all probability is located in the city of Toulouse). He is a tenant himself, but does not want a fight, leaves the house and ends up on the street.

He then built a first hut near the Garonne river, a wide river that flows through the city of Toulouse. When the river jumped out of its bed in January 2022 due to ever-rising water, he had to look for another place, which he found along the river Touch.

The most striking elements of the exterior of the structure he erected on the new site, are the gray tinted plates that cover walls, roofs and small towers. They look like they are made of slate, but the material used is foam rubber, which he found in a dumpster. This material was carefully cut out in the form of strips or tiles, depending on the place of use, and finally gray tinted with acrylic paint.

The roof of the house with turrets, windpipes and chimneys has an undulating allure, which can be seen in fairy tale books, but rarely in the reality of a wooded area

The fairy house has intricate skylights from which cobwebs fall, and it is surrounded by a picturesque imitation wooden fence, lined with 2 meter high lampposts to the left and right.

The project was completed in April 2022 and Monsieur David was able to move into the house.

Monsieur David is quite a discrete person and he is rarely seen around the house during the day. However, it also has been reported that in the summer of 2022 he organized workshops for children on Sundays in making figurines.

At the end of the year 2022, after the municipality understood that someone was living in the fairytale house, Monsieur David got a formal notice that he had to leave the building, also due to the risk of fire, a notice that will not be implemented for the time being, pending further consultation between Monsieur David and the municipal social service.

* Article (January 2, 2023) in regional newspaper La Dépêche, with video
* Article (December 28, 2022) in local newspaper Actu Toulouse

* Video by Manon Haussy, published in above article in La Dépêche

Monsieur David
Fairytale House
on a spot along the river Trout in Tournefeuille, dept Haute-Garonne, region Occitanie, France
can be seen from the road

January 06, 2023

André Muetton, Ensemble architectural / Architectural ensemble

this picture and the next three are screenprints from Google Streetview

An interesting art environment to start the new year. 

The image above shows a site that doesn't appear in French publications with an inventory character and, as far as can be ascertained, it also hasn't been mentioned in the local and regional press.

This art environment, located in the small French commune of Lapeyrouse-Mornay, was discovered by Sonia Terhzaz from Paris, about whom more in the documentation at the end of his post

Life and works

André Muetton, who created this art environment, was born in the mid 1940s as the son of a farmer. After primary school, at age 16, he started working as a mason, a job he held until his retirement in 2004.

In the 1950s and 1960s, he and his wife lived in a fairly small farm some 15 km from Lapeyrouse-Mornay, the community where he lives today, in the immediate vicinity of his creation.

He told Sonia Terhzaz, who interviewed him, that as a bricklayer he enjoyed being engaged in making built structures. Building was a pleasure for him. So, the first years of his retirement were spent renovating the house in Lapeyrouse-Mornay.

Near Muetton's house, along a through road, there was a piece of land, unused, except for the occasional rubble and other rubbish people deposited there. After he had renovated his house Muetton decided to embellish this site with some brickwork, a project he started in 2013.

He cleaned up the mess and on the now level lawn he built in a V-shape, the open side facing the road over a length of some ten meter, an ensemble of about ten self-contained but interconnected small facades, all with about the same height, but different in shape and design..Muetton did not make any sketches beforehand, because what he wanted to make was in his thoughts, as is the case with many non-professional artists.

Stones and other building material were found in the area, which is also rich in pebbles that were used as decorative items. Each of the facades was given its own design and was decorated in its own specific way, for example with niches with seated characters, small turrets at the top, columns, arcades, colored tiles.

A striking form of decoration, not yet found in art environments elsewhere, is the decoration of some facades with large letters, such as C, V, S and others. These letters stand for certain values that are dear to Muetton. They are written out in the caption of the photo below

The art environment is now considered completed (2022), also because Muetton is hindered by arthritis from doing heavy work. He limits himself to carrying out maintenance.

Each letter has a meaning:
C for courage, V for truth (verité), S for solidarity, J for justice,
P for sharing (partager), R for respect, G for generosity

The only available source about this art environment is an article (December 20, 2022) by Sonia Terhzaz on the FB page of  the French Association Patrimoines Irréguliers de France (PIF)
- Sonia Terhzaz is manager of the Parisian cafe Chair de Poule and arranges the musical, cultural and sporting events that take place there. She is active in the inventory of art environments in France and has already provided several articles to PIF with a description of a site and an interview with the artist or artists who created it (for example Henri GaltierLa ferme aux épouvantails et Utopix).

Andrew Muetton
Architectural ensemble
201 Route du Châtaignier, Lapeyrouse-Mornay, dept Drôme, 
region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France
can be seen from the road

December 23, 2022

Yuri Sidorov, Экстерьер, украшенный куклами / Exterior decorated with dolls

pictures (2021) from the website Tutu Art

Nevelsk is a port city in the Far East of Russia with about 12,000 inhabitants (2010), located on the southwestern coast of the island of Sakhalin ¹

Along a busy road just outside the city, there is a special creation in the form of an extensive collection of dolls arranged along the street, in the yard and in the trees belonging to the house located on the plot.

Life and works

This collection was created in 2014 by Yuri Vladimirovich Sidorov, who was born in 1955 and all his life has lived in Nevelsk. 

He had a job as a chief engineer on ships and then until his retirement he was an electrician in the company Rostelecom.

Sidorov acquired what would later become the house with the dolls in the early 1990s as a summer cottage. Around 2012, he and his wife Vera decided to live there all year round, because due to back surgery she had trouble climbing stairs in the flat where they lived.

The couple had four children and (in 2017) six grandchildren.

Decorating the house with dolls started in 2014. A grandson was found to have an allergy to a dust mite who loved soft toys and on medical advice all toy bears and dolls had to be removed from the house.

At first it seemed a good idea to donate the dolls to an orphanage in the area, but that was not possible because of hygienic standards.Then grandfather Sidorov came up with the idea of giving the dolls a place on the fence at the front of the summer house.

The collection of dolls, initially small in size, grew to about a hundred in 2021. Local residents and people from the city brought surplus toys. Sometimes they threw seven dolls at a time over the fence.

The collection, which includes all sizes of dolls, is not only displayed on the street side, but also on the fence along the side of the front garden. There is also a tree in the front yard, which is filled from head to toe with dolls.

Besides dolls there are also very large teddy bears and -lying on a fence- there is a large spotted dog, .

A lady from Japan brought a lion cub and asked to place it as high as possible, because after all, a lion is the king of animals..

* Article and pictures (2021) on the website of Tutu Art
* Article (2015) on the website of ASTV
* Article (2017) on the website of Sakhalin Media
* Article (2019) on the website of newspaper BezFormata

¹ The reviews in this weblog relate to  art environments in Europe. Nevertheless, characteristic sites in the Asian part of the Russian Federation are also included, this in order to give a balanced and coherent picture of the entire field of Russian art environments.

Yuri Sidorov

Exterior decorated with dolls

Nevelsk, Nevelsky-district, region Sakhalin, Russian Federation

can be seen from the road

December 16, 2022

Tracey "PicaPica" Shough, Jardin de Pies / Garden of the magpies

this picture and the next five 
from the video on Tracey Slough's  website 

The creative arrangement pictured above, gives an impression of the kind of artwork Tracey "PicaPica" Shough produces and shows in a variety of places in an around the French department of Creuse, where she lives in the small community of Chabrais, north-east of Clermont-Ferrand. The four images around show parts of an installation at a festival Les Sarabandes in Charente

Life and works

Tracey Shough was born in Birmingham, a city located in the Midlands in England. After her primary and secondary education she attended Dartington College of Arts near Totnes in Devon, South West England where she studied art from 1989-1992

From 2001 to 2007 she was affiliated with the Scottish organization Wild at Art which allowed artists from elsewhere to work and gain further experience in Scotland. Here she collaborated with schools and associations to create large-format artworks and other forms of art.Together with groups of children, she carried out projects in which walls were provided with colorful paintings.

For example, in 2007 she made a mural called The Long Goodbye, decorating the walls of the entrance and the platform buildings in the station of Invergordon, a small community along (an inlet of) the North Sea, in the north of Scotland. 

The mural depicts the story of the Seaforth Highlanders, 51st Highland Division, who left for France in World War II, fought there and, on retreat, ended up in St. Valery-en-Caux, where they were unable to make the crossing to England and were captured. A beautifully illustrated description of the project can be found on this 

a decorated wall in Tracey's garden 

A crossing to France

After her activities in Scotland, around 2008 Tracey Shough left for France, where she would live to this day, displaying an extraordinary creative entrepreneurial spirit.

In doing so, she took a different direction artistically. In Scotland she made realistic murals and paintings, in France she started making art inspired by the series of TV broadcasts in 1998 by Jarvis Cocker entitled Journeys into the Outside in which he visited art environments, mainly those created by outsider artists. Tracey Shough herself also visited a number of art environments in and outside France.

Although Tracey is a professional artist, her distinct affinity for outsider art and her involvement in the creation of art environments warrants a review of her creative work in this weblog. Not only the interest in outsider art is characteristic of her further development as an artist, also the reuse of objects and the reduction of waste became an important theme in her work. From 2009 she took part in the collective Pica Pica that focused on these items.

Over the past around thirteen years, besides decorating the backyard of her house, Tracey Shough has created an extensive collection of artworks, ranging from assemblages and installations to smaller items, such as small art in boxes,  necklaces and bags.

The four images around give an impression of these creations (photos from her FB page)

In addition to Tracey's activity as a visual artist, it is also an important part of her activities to organize expositions, motivate others and help them making artworks without using new materials.

The sculpture garden of the Association Pica Pica

A  recent initiative taken by Tracy and some of her friends in the field of art, such as the artists Adam Varley and Ann Hollande, is the founding of an association that manages an art environment in the quality of a sculpture garden, called Jardin de Pies (Garden of the magpies).

this picture and the next three 

The sculpture garden, currently in a first stage of development, is located in the hamlet of Peyroux-Vieux, a few km from Saint-Cabrais. Although the backyard of Tracey's house will also contain various creations, this is the garden she focuses on for the coming years

And of course, the sculptures are made of all kinds of materials that are no longer used or have become waste, in France often referred to as récup.

Located in a beautiful setting, he garden is surrounded by hedges and meadows, which are disappearing at a worrying rate and this is what the designers of the garden also want to draw attention to.

* Website and FB page of Tracey Shough
* Weblog of the Association Pica Pica, with a page about the Jardin de Pies

Video (YouTube, 3'40") of an exhibition (February 2021) in the Creuse Confluence media-library, with commentary by Tracey Slough

Tracy Picapica Shough
Decorated garden (of the magpies) in Peyroux-Vieux  
Creuse area, dept Haute-Vienne, region Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France