December 10, 2019

Józef Lizoń, Skansen monumentalnej rzeźby/Open Air Museum of Monumental Sculpture

Lizoń's house decorated with wooden sculptures
pictures of the site: screenprints from the video in the documentation

In Rogi, a small rural village located in the south of Poland not far from the border with Slovakia, there is a house referred to as Skansen monumentalnej rzeźby (Open-air Museum of Monumental Sculpture). Not only the house is decorated with sculptures -on the outside and the inside-, the large area around the house is also full of such sculptures.

Welcome to Józef Lizoń's art environment !

a decorated wall of the house

Life and works

Born in Rogi in 1949, Józef Lizoń after his primary education took a training to become a  carpenter in nearby Stary Sąc, but in the process he judged making windows and doors too simple and monotonous. 

So he decided to focus on wood carving, a decision undoubtedly influenced by the feeling he got after a visit to he parish church of nearby Podegrodzie, where he for the first time in his life saw sculptures in reality. 

He thought these sculptures were beautiful and felt inspired to make such creations himself. 

In 1967 -when he was in his 18th year- Lizoń's career as folk artist began. 

Lizoń  prefers to sculpt in lime, oak and birch, less often in stone, and thematically his religious representations take an important place (the Christ -as in he picture above, situated in a living room inside the house-, crosses, saints, angels, devils).

In addition he has also made many creations that depict people and scenes from life in the Polish countryside (as in the picture below a craftsman with a millstone). 

When in 2017 his 50-year artistic career was celebrated with an exposition, Lizoń could look back on a career as a folk artist in which he had made around a thousand (mainly wooden) sculptures

Initially, Lizon had to become known. He first worked for an intermediary and made small wooden plates and statuettes, which were sold in souvenir shops.

But then he met someone who provided a permanent sale of his work, in particular realistic sculptures of eagles with spread wings and a crown on their heads, which were purchased by Poles living in America as a souvenir from their home country.

As a folk art artist with a religious approach, he also got commissions. For example, in the course of the years he has manufactured some ten altars for churches in Poland and over a hundred wooden crosses, often some meters high.

In this way Lizoń and his artistic work gradually became known.

Creating an art environment

The creation of an art environment started at the end of the 1970s. The actual beginning was when Lizoń placed a large sculpture in front of his house of Polish Cardinal Wojtyla, who was elected Pope (John Paul II) in October 1978.

He then began to add more and more sculpture to the walls of the house and of other buildings on the site, and as the pictures above show, the walls are completely filled with his creations. Incidentally, the same also applies to the rooms indoors.

And then, the area around the house, 1000 m2 in size, gradually became filled with sculptures placed in rows, often covered with a red roof consisting of two roof shields

In the 1970s Lizon had already traveled around Poland and had seen open air exhibitions of sculptures elsewhere. In this way he got the idea to make an outdoor exhibition himself. 

He described the arrangement of his sculptures between apple and plum trees in the orchard as an open-air museum of monumental sculpture.

For the inhabitants of Rogi, such a use of the space around a house was something entirely new, just as it had happened that the village now housed a museum.

The quartet of images above gives only a limited picture of Lizon's creations in the area around the house. 

In addition to a large sculpture of the Christ present in the area and sculptures with a religious character, the other creations often refer to values such as family, motherhood and attachment to Poland. But there are also creations through which he shares his own opinion, like there is a sculpture entitled Babska Wladza (Girls Power).

Jubilee 50 years of artist in 2017

On the occasion of Lizoń's 50-year artistry, the exhibition Józef Lizoń. Sculptor from the village of Rogi was held in 2017 (28/4 - 17/9) in the Nikifor Museum in Krynica

An album about Lizoń was published in 2018

In September 2018 an album entitled Józef Lizoń, Rzeźba (Józef Lizoń, Sculpture). It was presented for the first time during a meeting at the Cultural Centre in Podegrodzie.

* Article (April 2015) in regional journal Gazeta Krakowska, with a series of pictures
* Website Polska Niezwykla with an article about and a series of pictures of the site
* Article (April 2017) on website Dobry tygodnik sądecki (A good weekly from Sądecki) at the occasion of the exposition in the Nikifor Museum
* Article (April 2017) on the website of the Muzeum Okręgowe in Nowy Sacz, also in relation with the exposition
* Video about Lizon by regional TV MTV 24 (July 2017, YouTube, 11'13")

Józef  Lizoń
Open-air museum of monumental sculpture
Rogi 57, municipality of Podegrodzie, district of Nowosądecki, Poland 
can be visited 

December 01, 2019

Marcel Marionneau, Facade with texts and decorations

this picture and the next one (probably around 2010) 
by Jean-Pierre Faurie as on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit 

Regional newspaper Ouest-France has reported that Marcel Marionneau from the community of Le Bourg-sous-la-Roche in the Vendée department, who was known locally as the author of the texts and decorations on the facade of his house, died early November 2019.

Life and works.

Marionneau, who was born in 1943, in his youth was attracted to making art, in particular sculpture, and when he was in his mid-twenties he took lessons with artists in Paris and Angers .

In May 1968 he returned to his native region and settled in Le Bourg-sous-la-Roche, part of the municipality of La Roche-sur-Yon in the French department Vendée, a place where he would spend his entire life.

His house on the rue Emile Bauman has undergone various changes during the fifty years that Marionneau has lived there, both on the inside, where Marionneau installed his workshop and situated his sculptures, paintings and books, and on the outside, where he added decorations and texts to the exterior walls, which changed over time and eventually almost disappeared.

An article in the regional journal Ouest France of May 2019, written by Patrick Guyomard, who met Marionneau at home, tells that at that time the interior wasn't only filled with sculptures and canvasses with paintings, but also with books, documents and archives. which testified to the search that the artist undertook for what he referred to as "the intellectual synthesis of human knowledge".

One of the themes Marionneau reflected on was the volume courbe (curved volume) ¹, which has to do with the perfect beauty. Just as the circle and the square and their spatial equivalents the cube and the sphere can be seen as ideal shapes, one can reflect on and theorize about the shape of the ideal curve and in particular how this would manifest itself spatially as a volume.

Marionneau has devoted himself a lot to this theme in theory, but also in his practice as a sculptor.

The wall decorations

Regarding the decorations on the facade, it is not known in which year Marionneau started this project, but its quite possible that he already began in the 1970s.

The artist did, however, indicate something about his initial intentions. They had to do with a card game known in the Vendee called Le jeu de l’Aluette. It has been played for centuries in groups of four people, two against two, with a set of cards that includes all kinds of images and symbols.

By making frescoes on the outside wall in such a familiar pattern, Marionneau wanted to communicate with the other residents.

Around 1990 the entire facade was decorated with a beautiful set of frescoes.

However, when a television crew would visit the site to make recordings for a broadcast about the now well-known art environment, Marionneau panicked and replaced part of the frescoes with texts.

The two pictures above show both the part with the frescoes and the part with the texts.

Around 2005 a new moment came in the development of the art environment.

Marionneau then decided to focus his attention on painting and sculpting. This also included that he abstained from further development or maintenance of  the decorations on the facade and the side walls. In the course of the following years this would lead to their gradua decay.

streetview June 2018

The pictures above show that in June 2018 the left side wall still included the (meanwhile affected) texts.

The left part of the facade still had a number of (faded) frescoes, but the right part of the facade and the side wall at the right had been washed with a gray paint.

Marionneau in the artworld

On the internet virtually no information is available about Marionneau's position in the art world. An entry on the Art Insolite website suggests that his artistic work isn't part of French mainstream art, but belongs to what is referred to in France as art singulier (singular art),

This indication is also used in an announcement of an exhibition of his drawings and sculptures in June 2018 in Galerie Monier in La Roche-sur-Yonne.

* There was a website by or about Marionneau, but this one isn't available anymore
* Article (November 2019) in regional journal Ouest-France announcing Marionneau's death
* An earlier article (May 2019) by Patrick Guyomard, also in Ouest-France with a report about a visit to Marionneau's house and workshop
*Some pictures on website Art Insolite, with a text by Jean-Pierre Faurie, republished on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit (October 2010 and September 2017)

¹ Volume Courbe is also the name of a London-based band around singer/songwriter Charlotte Marionneau, who comes from France and is referred to as a friend of Charles Marionneau

Marcel Marionneau
36 rue Emile Bauman
85191 Le Bourg-sous-la-Roche, dept Vendée, region Pays-de-la-Loire
what currently (2019) remains of the 
wall decorations can be seen from the street

November 21, 2019

Valery Gavrilov, Освобождение человека/Liberation of Man

Herodotus, father of history
pictures from photo-website Instazu

One of the more than twenty parks in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, the Foresters Park (Лесники Парк) in the south-eastern part of the city, includes an ensemble of trees transformed into sculptures. 

This artistic project, started in the late 1970s, came about through the cooperation of two employees from a forestry institute and an artist named Valery Gavrilov, whose creations contributed significantly to the specific character of this ensemble of sculptures.


Life and works of Valery Gavrilov

Gavrilov was born on September 10, 1948 and at a young age it already was clear that he had great artistic skills, so he went to an art school in Yekaterinburg and became a drawing teacher at a school.

He did not join the official Union of Artists, so in the 1970s his artistic activities took place in the non-official artworld of Yekaterinburg

It has been said about him that he wavered on the thin line between genius and madness and that he had an enormous inner strength. In his relatively short life Gavrilov produced thousands of paintings, tens of thousands of graphic sheets, hundreds of photos and numerous wooden sculptures. His house, considered suitable for demolition, was a place for discussion and festivities for many from the non-official art world.

This non-official underground group of artists in Yekaterinburg in the 1960s and 1970s was searching for new forms in art. In those years, Russia still had the Soviet regime, and these artists did not have the opportunity to raise their views in public (art) magazines or to show their work at official exhibitions.

Only in the years of perestroika would underground art become public. In Yekaterinburg in 1987 the first uncensored art exhibition, Surikova 31, was held and in the 1990s a new turn would take place with the group of artists around Bukashkin, the self-taught artist who proclaimed Paint the garbage.

Gavrilov tragically died because of a choke in 1982, just a day after he turned 34.


Creating an ensemble of wooden sculptures

In the context of an art world ruled by the government it is quite special that in 1976 Valentin Chernov and Gennady Povod, employees associated with the Forestry Institute, together with Gavrilov, unhindered by censorship or other government involvement, were able to start an art project in the Forestry Park. Povod was the head of the wood processing department and Cherov was deputy dean of the faculty of mechanical wood processing ¹.

But so it happened. The three started the project, this with the agreement of the director of the Institute, and also with the cooperation of the local authorities, who welcomed and facilitated the addition of the sculptures to the public space the park is (such as other sculptures by Gavrilov would embellish other places in the public space, such as school yards and children's playgrounds).

Valentin Chernov was the leading person in terms of developing the overall theme for the set of sculptures. Following his passion for the history of the Urals, the sculptures would especially tell about the ancient peoples who inhabited the territory of this area, such as the Issedon and the Arimasp.

Chemov would also make sketches which Gavrilov used to make his sculptures.


Liberation of Man

The art environment initially included 18 sculptures, one of which -The fear of dispense- has since disappeared ¹

It has been said that currently the ensemble is somewhat in decay, and indeed some sculptures are overgrown, but considering that they were placed some forty years ago and that the collection is not an official monument and therefore enjoys no protection from local authorities, it seems rather special that nowadays so much of the creation is left.

Starting with a sculpture of Herodotus, the Greek historian living 500 years before Christ, the sculptures show the development of humanity as expressed in myths and legends, with struggles between ancient peoples (the fabulous Issedon and Arimasp), images of former gods, but also of a young woman protected by a man.

In 2019 Stanislav and Irina Shminke, artists from Yekaterinburg, re-installed signs with explanatory texts at the bottom of the sculptures, so that they now each have a name and description. Irina also contributed an article about Gavrilov's wooden sculptures to the Uralnash website that includes articles and documentation on interesting and unexpected issues in Yekaterinburg (see documentation).

* Irina Shminke, Wooden idols of Yekaterinburg, article (October 2019) on website Uralnash (a richly illustrated text about Gavrilov's sculptures in the Forestry Park and on other places in 
Yekaterinburg). Anna Sitnikova provided a translation of this article into English
* Maria Bogacheva, Idols of the Siberian tract, article (March 2015) on website Uraloved (illustrated text about Gavrilov and the sculptures  in the park)
* Website Museum of the Tree, with an undated series of photos of the sculptures
* A series of photos on the website photo-history.livejournal  of some of the sculptures, taken rather soon after the were installed
Video by Uralnash (2'05", July 2016, YouTube)

¹ I am indebted to Stanislav Shminke for this information

Valery Gavrilov 
Ensemble of wooden sculptures Liberation of Man 
Foresters Park
Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk region, Russia
can be visited freely

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 it now includes descriptions of more than 460 art environments in Europe. 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

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


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.


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.

* 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
* 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.

* 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

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.

* 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