November 11, 2019

Eleventh anniversary of this blog


Bonjour aux promeneurs, Hello walkers
picture of a sculpture by Fernand Châtelain
courtesy of Marcello 13 (Flickr)


Today, November 11, 2019, this blog exists for eleven years and as in previous years I will relate here some data (as of november 9 and 10) about numbers/origin of visitors and about most viewed art environments.

Number of visitors

On november 10, 2019 the all time number of visitors was 819.622. On november 10, 2018 it was 755.533, so there is an increase of 64.089 visitors, or on the average 175 visitors a day. Over the period 2017-2018 the average was 160 visitors a day.

All time page views by country

As in previous years here is the all time rank of top ten countries as regards page-views (as on November 10):

   1. United States 276448  (rank 2018 idem)
   2. Netherlands  81293 (rank 2018 idem)
   3. France 72837 (rank 2018 idem)
   4. Germany 57481 (rank 2018 idem)
   5. United Kingdom  52538 (rank 2018 idem)
   6. Russia 28851 (rank 2018 idem)
   7. Italy 26410 (rank 2018 was 8)
   8. Ukraine 22812 (rank 2017 was 7)
   9. Spain 15072 (rank 2017 idem)
 10. Poland  6237 (rank 2017 idem)

The top ten list includes the same countries as in 2018, almost in the same order, except Italy and Ukraine which changed place. Italy is on the rise: 9 in 2017, 8 in 2018, 7 in 2019 

Once more the interest from Ukraine and Poland in Eastern Europe and Russia is lasting.

Most viewed sites all time

These are the sites with the most all time views (as on november 9):

  1.  Bill and Elisabeth Charge, UK Shell garden, 6297
  2.  Robert Garcet, Belgium Tour Eben-Ezer, 5453
  3.  Jose Maria Garrido, Spain Shell decorated interior, 4902
  4.  Joseph Ferdinand Cheval, France Palais Idéal, 4748
  5.  Robert Tatin, France Singular architecture, 4532
  6.  Bodan Litnianski, France, Decorated garden, 4254
  7.  Abbé Fouré, France Sculpted rocks, 3614
  8.  Chomo, France Préludian art, 3983
  9.  Francisco Grajera, Spain Decorated house, 3683
10.  Joseph Pujiula i Vila, Spain Labyrinth, 3576

The first place for Bill and Elisabeth Charge has to do with a one time event. End October 2016 the husband of a granddaughter of Bill and Elisabeth posted a message on the Watford Memories and History page on Facebook, asking -with a link to the relevant post in this blog- if anyone remembered the sculpture garden, that was demolished by the housing company soon after Elisabeth had died.
Thousands of people did remember the site and this resulted in over 5000 hits of the post in a few days time, which meanwhile has grown to over 6200. a number that no other site has been able to surpass until now.

For the rest, the top ten list continues to contain the same names as those of previous years, compared to 2018 also in the same order. So the list of top ten sites viewed includes the same set of names as in previous years, Robert Garcet from Belgium. Facteur Cheval, Robert Tatin, Bodan Litnianski,Abbé Fouré and Chomo from France and José  Maria Garrido, Francisco Grajera and Joseph Pujiula from Spain.

On 11 and 12 the same artists as in 2018 appear: Erich Bödeker (Sculpture garden, 3505) and Karl Junker (Decorated interior, 3545), both from Germany. now followed on 13 by Willem van Genk (Arnhem bus station, 3151) from the Netherlands, by Stephen Wright (House of dreams museum, 3329) from the UK, on 14. and by José García Martin (Sculpture garden, 3252 from Spain) on 15.

Ernesto Fernando Nannetti from Italy (Graffiti di NOF4. 3231) who wasn't in the top 20 so far, is now on 16, followed on 17 by  Jean-Daniel Allanche (Decorated interior, 3153) from France. on 18 by Julius Klingebiel (Decorated hospital room, 3190) from Germany, on 19 by Raymond Isidore (Maison Picassiette, 3101) and on 20 by Robert Vasseur (Mosaic decorated house and garden, 3002), both from France.

Eastern Europe and Russia

In the autumn of 2014 I began paying special attention on tracing art environments in Eastern Europe and in Russia west of the Urals. which has resulted in sites being documented, in particular from Russia, that so far were virtually unknown in the field of art environments in Western Europe.

Here are the sites with all time views above 1500 (as on november 9):

Eastern Europe
Bogdan Ziętek, Interior with sculptures, Poland, 2385
František Rint, Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic, 2541
Václav Levý, Sculpted rocks, Czech Republic, 2526
Stanislav Sartsevich, Sculpture garden, Ukraine, 2130
Nicolas Golovan, Decorated house, Ukraine, 2078
Felicja Curylowa, Decorated house, Poland, 1711
Bogusława Iwanowskiego, Sculpture garden, Poland, 1675

Russia
Alexander Emelyanov, Architectures, sculptures, 2384
Alexander Ladogina, Singular architecture, 2028
Sergey Kirillov, Decorated house, 1740
Pjotr Zhurilenko, Sculpture garden, 1649
Yevgeny Malakhin (=Bukashkin), Frescoe decorated walls, 1569

Finland

And then, especially for my Finnish friends, here are the five most viewed Finnish sites:

Elis Sinistö, Villa Mehu, 2498
Ensio Tuppurainen, Paradise, 2296
Veijo Rönkkönen, Patapuisto sculpture garden, 2068
Keijo Ikonen, Sculpture garden, 1441
Olavi Laiho, Sculpture garden, 1213

Of course, above listings are just meant to give an idea of the focus of the visitors who visit this blog.

November 06, 2019

Gerald Dalton, Gerry's Pompeii


Gerald Dalton in his art environment, July 2019
this picture and the next one courtesy of  ©️Jill Mead 

Stretching over some 220 km (137 miles) the Grand Union Canal in England connects London with Birmingham. Along the part of the canal  that leads through West London one can find a 50 meters long wall with decorations and sculptures, part of a larger art environment that also includes a sculpture garden and an interior with various creations (located at the backside and inside of the white house in the picture below)

view from the canal on the decorated wall at the rear of the houses 
along the Hormead Road West London

Life and works

This art environment has been created by Gerald Dalton, usually addressed as Gerry Dalton, who was born in 1935 in Athlone, Ireland.  Due to severe asthma, as a young boy he was often unable to attend school, so his education remained limited. 

In 1959, at age 24, Dalton migrated to London, where he worked at the postal service in the Paddington district, had a job in cleaning machines in an aeroplane factory and was employed at the cafe of a business organisation for company directors. He retired from work in 1995 at age 60

facade of Dalton's ground floor house on Hormead Road 
(Streetview, april 2019)

In the early 1980's Dalton moved into a small ground floor apartment on Hormead Road in West London. Over time, he began to provide his living environment with all kinds of decorations and creations, a project that he would continue for some thirty years.

Interior


wall decorations in the interior
this picture and the next ones courtesy of  ©️Jill Mead 

The walls of the house have been lavishly filled with framed colorful images of historic sites and personalities, interspersed with mantelpieces and wallboards filled with an abundance of small-scale, brightly colored sculptures made by Dalton, that impersonate all kinds of characters from British history, including soldiers, princes, kings ...

replicas in the interior

Then, as can be seen on the picture above, the space inside also includes a number of replicas of in particular English palaces, castles and stately homes, such as Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and St Paul's Cathedral. The front room of the flat alone contains some twelve replicas.

a look at the interior of a replica

These replicas, made from wood, paper-mâché or card, mostly painted white on the outside, are very accurately modeled after the original and often the roof can be lifted, making the indoor spaces visible.

These spaces are usually equipped with furniture, wall covering and representations of residents, everything in dollhouse format, nicely furnished and colorfully executed.

The back garden

sculptures in the back garden

As depicted in above picture, in the back garden a large number of sculptures have been arranged in rows. Dalton often used the same mold to create them, making a distinction between the figures by differences in color and variations in small details

In a thematic sense in this arrangement once more a lot of attention is paid to historical personalities, such as Oliver Cromwell and Jonathan Swift

detail of a sculpture

A large row of mainly female persons is arranged in the front or a bright red painted side wall. The picture above shows a character in detail

The sculptures are arranged on identical cube-shaped cement blocks, with texts on the front describing the person. The relative similarity of the sculptures and the arrangement in rows gives this sculpture garden a rhythmic, as well as a coherent nature, qualities that mean that this back garden doesn't include just a separate collection of objects, but rather a work of art in its own right.

Decorated wall and arrangement of sculptures along the canal

some sculptures of female persons lined up 
in front of the decorated wall along the canal

The back gardens of the houses on Hormead Road are separated by a wall from a small strip of bank  alongside the Grand Union Canal. The strip is property of the housing company. It has a double row of conifers and it was quite messy before Dalton figured out that he could turn wall and strip into another part of his art environment. With permission of the housing company Dalton cleaned up the area, which took him a couple of months. 

The side of the wall facing the canal is covered with white plaster, which contains numerous individual decorative elements, such as tiles, busts and plaques, but also handwritten informative texts about the sculptures arranged in front of the wall.

These sculptures, neatly emplaced along the wall, have for the most part the same design as the sculptures in the back garden, but there are also a number of sculptures, especially of female characters in classical poses, executed in classical white.

sculptures of female characters on the strip along the canal

One would say that a strikingly decorated wall with a parade of sculptures in front of that wall does not go unnoticed and receives some publicity in the local press. But apart from the locals who in general appreciated Dalton, both because of his personality and his creative activities, outside of that group it remained silent around the self-taught artist and the way he embellished the public area along the canal, let alone that his indoor creations got public attention.

In July 2019, as part of a personal project freelance photographer Jill Mead, who works for various London newspapers and had tracked down the garden, interviewed Dalton and photographed his art environment. Publication of her photos might have led to a broader awareness of the site, but before it came to that, Dalton, aged 84, became ill and died in August 2019 in a London hospital.

Action and publicity after Dalton's death

After Dalton died, Sasha Galitzine, a friend of Dalton and current custodian of the property, took the initiative to start an action to preserve the site. The house and garden were opened to visitors, not just local residents, but also well-known people were deliberately invited, including Jarvis Cocker (well known in the field of art environments for his TV series Journeys into the Outside, 1999), influential people from the museum world, and of course TV people and journalists.

This opening up was a great success in terms of publicity, because, as can be seen in the documentation below, many large news media paid attention to Dalton's art environment and its future.

In this respect there is a major problem, Dalton rented the house and the rules for these homes include that the rented property must be vacated fairly soon after the tenant's death. a rule that does not allow that the house becomes a small-scale local museum. The housing company is willing to discuss the situation, but at the time of writing this article, there was no news about an outcome.

Documentation
* Website Help us save Gerry's Pompeii, edited by the action committee
* Alys Fowler, Hidden treasures: a statue-filled canal garden, article with a lot of pictures by
Jill Mead, in newspaper The Guardian, October 26, 2019
* Digby Warde-Aldam, What happens when an “outsider artist” dies, and who decides their legacy?, article with photographs by Miguel Santa Clara in Elephant Magazine, October 2019
* Various newspapers in October 2019 had articles about Dalton's art environment and its future, such as the Times, the SUN, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard
* In its next issue Raw Vision will have an article about Gerald Dalton and his site
Videos
* short video by Raw Vision (0'59", October 2019, You Tube)



* Video by BBC (October 2019, 1'34")


* Video by RTE News on Facebook (October 2019, 1'44")



Gerald Dalton
Gerry's Pompeii
34 Hormead Road, W9 3NQ
London, England, UK
the decorated wall
along the canal can be seen
from the road
streetview (2017)


November 01, 2019

Armando Baigorri, La casa del sol naciente/The House of the rising sun


the fully decorated house in 2016
the pictures are screenprints from some of the videos 
in the documentation

The picture above shows a property in Monteagudo, a small community of some 1100 inhabitants in the province of Navarre, Spain. that in recent decades has been transformed into a singular architecture. with a surrounding space that includes a variety of iron structures.

Life and works

This Casa del sol naciente (House of the rising sun) has been created by Armando Baigorn, also called Armando Rustigenio. He was born in Aragón in a family with a very creative mother, but spent most of his life in Navarre, where he had a bakery in Monteagudo.

the house around 2010

Baigorri might have inherited his creative abilities from his mother, for when he had built a house on a piece of land where there used to be a plaster factory, he began to decorate the house and the surrounding space in an extraordinary way.

Baigorri's decorative work has two distinct perspectives, firstly the often high-rise creations of recycled iron and furthermore the covering of the walls of the house with creatively arranged stacked stones.

The documentation available on the internet has limited information about the artist in terms of years. For example, it is not stated when he was born, nor is it known around what time he started creating the art environment. The picture above depicts the house as it was around 2010. The wall that is visible, is only partly covered with stones, and iron creations can already be seen.

Based on this state of development, it can be assumed that Baigorri started in the early years of the new century, if not earlier.

the site in 2010

Metal structures

As above picture shows, already in 2010 the outside area was equipped with a large number of metal structures. Baigorri used all kinds of discarded material to construct these metal creations, such as old farm implements, horseshoes, chains, wheels, wrought iron, parts or plows and so on.

One of the larger structures is a ten-meter cross made from more than 4,000 horseshoes, a creation that took Baigorri about two years to complete.


The picture (2016) above gives an impression of the various iron structures Baigorri created. At the left the 10 meters high cross.

The picture below (also 2016) shows more details.


Stacked stones

By decorating the living house with a variety of stones which differ in size, color and form, Baigorri has created a specific singular architecture that's rather unique in the field of art environments in Europe ¹.

There are no other examples where a house, so to speak,  has been encased in a large quantity of stacked stones, which, moreover, are arranged in a decorative manner, such as the flower-like upper left configuration and other arrangements (picture -2016- below).


The picture (2016) below shows a fragment of the wall, wherein a round (mill?) stone is placed in the middle of horizontally situated flat stones.


Both with regard to the iron structures and the stacked stone, it appears that what at a first glance seems to be a chaos, on closer consideration is a thoughtful and deliberate arrangement of found stones and recycled materials.

As formulated in the weblog Donde me lleven mis bottas (see documentation): "......cada piedra, cada una de las obras de forja están colocadas según un escrupuloso motivo, y lo que, a a simple vista se antoja un caos y un descontrol de restos de forja y metal, como el propio Baigorri explica, con la apropiada luz del sol, cobra sentido y muestra toda su belleza ...." (....each stone, each one of the wrought iron works is placed according to a scrupulous motive, and what, at first glance, seems to be a chaos and a lack of control of wrought iron and metal remains, as Baigorri himself explains, with the appropriate sunlight, makes sense and shows all its beauty .....)

Other elements 

In addition to the two main elements that determine the design of this art environment, namely the stone-packed house and the iron structures in the surrounding space, the site has some smaller-scale items, mainly made from stacked stones, such as an archway, some sculptures and a cave.

Documentation
* Article (August 2012) by Joseba Ayensa in his weblog
* Article (December 2013) on weblog Donde me lleven mis bottas
* Article (April 2015) in regional journal Heraldo
* Videos
* Video by Paeando Espana (around 2010, 4'13", You Tube)


* Video by Angel JJ (April 2015, 1'28", You Tube)


* Video by Lasotube El arte del Armando Rustigenio (July 2016), 3'27", You Tube)


* More videos:
Rustigenio, by Anandor Producciones on Vimeo,
- Esta casa es mía, by Decasa TV
- Casa del sol naciente by AngelJJ

note
¹  Other currently existing sites in Europe with built structures of stacked stones (not as bulky as those of Baigorri) are: Michel Rousseau, Garden of lost stones, France and Devan Manfredo, Dreamwoods, Italy. An older site including towers built with stacked stones, currently not existing anymore, is the one by Auguste Bourgoin, Public ruins end of the (19th) century

Armando Baigorri
The house of the rising sun
Monteagudo. region Navarre, Spain
can be seen from the street

October 23, 2019

Georges Maillard, Jardin des pierres Rocamberlus/Rock garden Rocamberlus


this picture and the next three courtesy of the 
© Laurent Kruszyk, Région Île-de-France

Osny is a community in France, located some 30 km northwest of Paris, which currently is part of Cergy-Pontoise, a suburb of the capital that began to emerge in the 1970s.

Life and works

When in 1964, Georges Maillard (born in 1932) bought a piece of land of some 1000 m² in Osny, the community was surrounded by an area with a rural and woody character, because at that time the urbanization had yet to begin.

He bought the site to establish there a country cottage (in French a cabanon), a place for relaxation. Later, in 1968, he decided to locate a house on the property. He started living there in 1972.


Maillard was a postman with an artistic slant. He loved photography, the theater and writing, but making sculptures became his favorite activity, in such a way indeed that he transformed the undeveloped, partly upwards inclining part of his property into an art environment.

The available documentation does not state when Maillard started working on his art environment. It is possible that it was when he moved into the house in the early 1970s, because it has been reported that one of his first creations included a letterbox, and then a box that was decorated in a special way.

The pictures in this post demonstrate the specific character  of the sculptures Maillard created. In the fields around Osny, but also on chalk cliffs along the  coast of Picardy and Normandy, he went in search of stones, especially sandstone and sometimes millstone, and especially those with a special shape or profile, so that, when combined, they get kind of a human or animal look,

Because the stacking consists of around two or three stones, the sculptures appear in a modest size, which also adds to their charm.


In addition, Maillard treats the creations with humor and playfulness by providing some with attributes such as a baking pan as a helmet, a flowerpot, a funnel or a scarf.


Looking at the accompanying photos, it is striking to see how naturally the various sculptures take their place and relate to their neighbors, as if they were not grouped by human hand, but are a collective of personalities, busy with all kinds of activities, stiffened for a split second in the click of a camera. Incidentally, here is also a relation with Mallard's love of  photography and the theater, in particular the aspect of staging amidst sets.

In the available documentation, published around 2012, it is stated that Maillard has also made some wooden sculptures, one of which still existed at the time, while he also must have made concrete sculptures. However, it's evident that around 2012 the stacked stones already form the dominant aspect of this art environment.

Actual situation (2019)

As said, the (in itself limited) documentation on which this article is based, was published around 2012. The internet hasn't more recent info and the site also hasn't been described in the overview of art environments in France that Bruno Montpied gives in his standard work Les gazouillis des Éléphants (2017).

However, relying on the image that Streetview in 2019 made of the garage of the house, with  unscathed sculptures on its roof, it seems that the site is still in its original state.

Documentation
* Entry about Georges Maillard on the website Inventaire du Patrimoine, Île-de-France (file about Maillard realized in 2012)
* The above Inventaire includes an  article (2012) by Sophie Cueille, Entretien insolite avec le facteur Maillard  (can be downloaded as a document)

Georges Maillard 
Jardin des pierres Rocamberlus 
16 rue des Marines
95520 Osny, dept Val-dÓise, region Île-de-France, France
can (partly) be seen from the street

October 06, 2019

Anatoly Serebrennikov, Музей-усадьбу “Улыбка”/Museum-Estate “Smile”


 pictures are screenprints from the video in the documentation
facade of the house (click to enlarge)

Nizhne-Ivkino, a small community with some 2000 inhabitants in the Kirov region in the central-eastern part of European Russia, is not only known as a health resort, but also because of one of its inhabitants, the self-taught artist Anatoly Anatolyevich Serebrennikov.

Life and works  

Born in 1948 in Mukhino, also a community located in the Kirov region, Serebrennikov had a difficult childhood because his father died at an early age and as a young boy and only child he had to help his mother with obtaining income. After his military service he studied at the Kirov Agricultural Institute and worked for 25 years as a director of one of the subsidiary companies.

When a project started to re-forestize the Nizhne-Ivkino area, he became involved because of his expertise and went to live with his wife in the village. Later he got a job at a health resort in the village where he took care of the gardens.

a detail of the picture above 
with an arrangement that depicts a domestic scene

From childhood on Serebrennikov had a love for the Russian countryside and the Russian culture, which manifested itself in various ways. such as a preference for reading Russian classics, but also in all his life collecting utensils that shaped peasant and country life, such as barrels, pods, spinning wheels, tumblers ......


Nowadays, many such attributes are attached to a side wall of his house, as in above picture.

The facade of the house has left and right a wooden caryatid and an atlantid, both made from one piece of wood. These two creations seem to support the scene right under the roof, a scene that depicts a domestic situation, with a mother sitting on a spinning wheel, a father working on a painting, a samovar in the middle and above that a basket/crib with a baby.


The space around the house is richly decorated with all kinds of sculptures and structures

There are various sculptures that refer to people who are known from Russian classical painting, such as Ivan Tsarevich on the gray wolf, after the painting from 1889 with the same name by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov.

There is also a reproduction of the noble lady Praskovya Morozova, depicted on Boyar Morozov, a famous painting created between 1884 and 1887 by Vasili Surikov.

Other creations refer to Russian classical literature, such as a mermaid, a goblin and a cat on a
chain -characters from the work of Pushkin- added to a tree near the entrance of the site.


Then there are ensembles, such as the one shown above. The two enlargements below give an idea of how Serebrennikov portrayed the characters.

Serebrennikov also became known for his monument to the potato, which he began to make around 2005.  It's an ensemble of a white stone with the words Make a deep bow to the nurse, a pot with baked potatoes and a branch connected with a shovel and a pitchfork. A man with a staff, in a padded jacket and bast shoes kneels in front of the ensemble. 

The monument is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Russian victory over Germany in World War II.

The news about this creation spread and Serebrennikov was invited to participate in a much-watched Russian television program about a healthy lifestyle. 

He traveled to the studio in Moscow with three kilos of potatoes, dressed in an old-fashioned peasant's shirt, which he had put together himself (Serebrennikov likes to make clothes with his own hand and without sewing machine, also special ones, such as a dress á la Pushkin, with a long black suede coat and a top hat).


Paintings of nails with a head

Around 2000 Serebrennikov saw a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, made by a medieval master who used nails instead of paint. This inspired him to make such creations himself.

In the meantime, Serebrennikov has made a number of portraits of this kind, including one of Putin and another of the Patriarch of Moscow.

In January 2018 he showed in a local museum a nail portrait of the in Russia famous opera singer Fedor Chaliapin (1873-1938). The portrait includes 7465 nails, placed on a 2 m long and 95 cm wide panel of lime wood

In the video below (2'28", You Tube, March 2018), Serebrennikov shows and discusses this creation. The portrait of Putin can also be seen


Serebrennikov is currently working on a portrait of the Russian cosmonaut Viktor Savinykh who will turn eighty in March 2020

Documentation
* Evgeny Demikhov, Article (February 2019) in regional newspaper Komsomolka Pravda
Ekaterina Ponomareva, Article (February 2019) on Kirov News website, with info about Serebrennikov's making  of clothing
* Mikhail Smirnov, Article (undated) in Liga Press, with info about the monument to the Russian potato
* Larisa Yuzhanina, Article (March 2008) on website malahov-plus, especially about the TV performance
Videos
* Video by Russian TV 1 (3'40", You Tube, around 2014), with an impression of the creations in the garden around the house


Anatoly Serebrennikov
Museum-Estate “Smile”
Solnechnaya Street
Nizhne-Ivkino, Kirov region, Russia
can be seen from the road

September 23, 2019

Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, Hrafns hreiður/Raven's nest


this picture from  website Atlas Obscura
contributed by an unknown photographer
click to enlarge

The picture above shows an art environment facing the Atlantic Ocean, located in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik. This is Raven's Nest, a site created by Hrafn Gunnlaugsson.

Life and works

Gunnlaugsson, born in Reykjavik on June 17, 1948, after his primary education studied in Stockholm, Sweden, both at its university and at its Dramatic Institute where he qualified in film making and directing. 

In the 1970s he became a well known film maker, who made the Icelandic film industry internationally known by his films, some set in the Viking era, others in modern Iceland.

this picture and the next two by Kirill Voenbrand, Instazu

Gunnlaugsson married Edda Kristjánsdóttir and the couple would get four children.

In 1977 he bought the house and the surrounding terrain that he in the course of the years would transform, into an art environment. The property is located on Reykjavik's edge, a spot with a lot of history, as it once housed a hospital, a cemetery and the barracks of the British Army during World War II.

Due to the purchase, the municipality's plan to demolish the building was canceled.


Gunnlaugsson likes to collect all kind of things. In an interview he said: “I was given the name Hrafn. That means raven, I think it goes with the name: Ravens like to collect things. Maybe I can blame the habit on my name.

So, this art environment is a multifaceted collection of all kinds of collected items. 

A rusty Viking warrior, standing on a corner, greets the visitor, a raven on the roof keeps an eye on things, there are Norse gods, Christian deities, and Buddhist icons, there are also sculptures made from old ship parts, some 160 massive stones from various regions in Iceland lay around, iron installations with large round balls stand between the plants and decorate the roof and a balcony ......

It is a collection which is constantly evolving and changing in composition, difficult to describe thematically. but one in which each item indeed has its own place and is part of all those things with which Gunnlaugsson has a trusted relationship.


The residential home is in the center of the site. Its outer walls are decorated with tribal masks and religious talismans.

The ground floor of the house has no interior walls that divide the space, a remnant from earlier times that has remained unchanged. 

So kitchen, dining room and sitting area are all located in one space, which of course also includes various collections, such as an an array of antique collectibles in the kitchen, canvas paintings of ravens, reproductions of French painters, all sorts of things made by the children in their early years, and lots of books and films.


The two images above (left some wooden sculptures, right the Viking Warrior) and the two below were made in September 2019 by Tiramisu Bootfighter, a Frenchman who traveled through the United Kingdom and Iceland with a Galerie Ambulante (that is, his suitcase) for a many weeks in search of unusual places.



Every year the site attracts a variety of visitors. A side road of the main road Laugarnestangi leads to  the house along the coast.

Documentation
* Gabriele R. Guðbjartsson “For Hrafn Gunnlaugsson There Really is No Place like Home” The Reykjavik Grapevine, Sept 7 2007
* Photos op Atlas Obscura
* Lauren Razavi, article,Vice Motherboard, aug 2015 
* Wikipedia

Hrafn Gunnlaugsson 
Ravens nest 
along a side road of main road Laugarnestangi 
Reykjavik, Iceland
can be seen from the road
streetview


September 16, 2019

Juris Audzijonis, Dieva dārzs "Jūras" / God's Garden "Jūras"


entry gate of the park
this picture and the next one from Facebook

Vecumnieki is a community in Latvia of around 2100 inhabitants, located some 50 km south of the country's capital Riga. In the rural area north-west of the community a collection of wooden creations catches the eye. This is Juris Audzijonis' art environment generally known as Jūras, God's Garden, a park with a variety of single handedly made wooden and metal creations.


Life and works

When he was in his early fifties the life of Jūris Audzijonis, who was born in 1942 or 1943, took a special turn. During a cardiac arrest that had hit him, he had a beautiful vision that he experienced as the divine light that brought him back to life.

Prior to this experience he was not a believer, but now he was converted to the Christian faith, and moreover, he also felt inspired to propagate that belief by making and installing creations that reflected that belief.

In 1996 Audzijonis started a project that has kept him busy until now (2019) and that has resulted in a park-like art environment that includes single-handedly crafted wooden sculptures, metal assemblies and singular architecture in various forms.

a sculpture of Our Lady
this picture an the next ones screenprints from the video 
referred to in the documentation

As the picture of the entrance (at the top of this text) shows, Jūras is the original name of the site. However, after a journalist, with the approval of Audzijonis, designated the site as God's garden, this name was widely used in addition to the original name.

The most pronounced reference to the Christian faith in this art environment is the life-sized sculpture of Jesus on the cross, placed directly next to the main entrance of the site.

Then there is a wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary, also life-sized, about which the story goes that a miracle happened with this sculpture when two holes in the wood near the heart opened and resin began to flow out of those holes.


The Christian character of the site is also expressed in the built structures Audzijonis created, first of all a number of churches or other places of worship, such as the one as in above picture with towers at the front- and backside, that are covered with hexagonal spires.

One of the built structures is a small wooden prayer house where at most one visitor can sit on a chair (that turns around three times) to pray or meditate.

One day a number of students came to visit the garden, waiting patiently in a row at this prayer house. Audzijonis wondered what happened, but it turned out that the students had to take an exam the next day and came to ask for a blessing.


Among the buildings in the capacity of a church there are large ones such as the aforementioned church with the four towers, but also small ones, such as the one in the picture above built by  Audzijonis for his granddaughter Freya on the occasion of her fifth birthday.

Freya lives in Vienna and does not speak Latvian, just as Audzijonis does not speak German, so her mother, Audzijonis' daughter, has to assist as interpreter.


Other striking wooden constructions in this art environment are an above pictured elongated bridge that crosses a pond ........


..... and a large-scale seesaw pictured above, suitable not just for two children, but also for two adults, a device that when used exerts a calming effect on the participating persons.


Above picture shows the spire of the tower of the large wooden church with four towers crowned with an installation formed by rotating metal items, typically assembled by using leftovers, in this case metal pans

The site has a variety of such mobile items. For example, there is a high rising towery structure with an immobile pedestal and an upper part - provided with metal protrusions in the form of blades - that can rotate in its entirety.

And there is a wooden gazebo that also can turn around in its entirety.


Above picture of an all metal windmill with blades that turn in the wind, shows that Audzijonis who in reviews is mostly presented as a woodcrafter, also knows about handling metal parts.

Documentation
* Account of the site on Facebook 
* Article (August 2016) by Antra Gabre on website NRA.LV
Video
Video (September 2017, 3'19", You Tube) by Latvian Time 


Juris Audzijonis  
God's Garden "Jūras"
on the P89 road, just outside the community
Vecumnieki, Latvia
streetview
the site can be visited on appointment (see FB account)
donation welcome