September 18, 2018

Michel Rousseau, Le jardin aux pierres perdus/The lost stones garden

pictures courtesy of Sabine Campion (Le Mille-Pattes)

Along the departmental road D 303 near Bessé-sur-Braye in the Sarthe area in France, there is a singular garden filled with a variety of meters-high cylindrical constructions with a domed top, made entirely of stacked stones.

Life and works

This art environment was created by Michel Rousseau, who was born in 1936 in Savigny-sur-Braye.

After his primary education he for some time was employed as a farm hand until he was called for military service. After this he trained and worked as a mason with the Compagnons du devoir, to finally settle in Bessé-sur-Braye in 1978, where he had job in a factory and where he met his wife.

Retired in 1996 Rousseau increasingly felt the need to fill his days with activities where he could use his manual skills and where he could feel united wit the earth under his feet.

In 2004 he bought a piece of land along the D303 not far from the house where he lives. A pile of building material left on that land inspired him to use this material to build these typical cylindrical dome topped structures.

Such buildings do not have their own name in French and may be referred to as cabanes or maisonettes. The site as such does not have its own name either.

When Rousseau was asked about this, he said that the site can be regarded as le reposoir Sarthois (the Sarthois repository). A reposoir is a place where one can rest or make a stop and the term can also indicate a place to temporarily shelter the religious icon which is carried around during a procession.

Since Rousseau decorated one of his constructions with a found street sign with the designation Rue de la pierre perdue (Street of the lost stone), the site is also named after lost stones.

The connotation of Rousseau's art environment is indeed that of stones that, after having been used elsewhere, now have a place where they can stay quietly and from an ecological point of view are not wasted.

This also goes for the various other items Rousseau uses to decorate the structures, such as pots and pans (as in above picture), but also items that have been found or bought in flea markets such as figurines, flower pots, car wheel covers or bottles.

Very characteristic of Rousseau's working method is that he simply stacks the bricks, and so does not use cement or grout to achieve the strength of the structures, the highest of which measure about 4 meters. 

In the field of art environments such a method is rather rare. In France Auguste Bourgoin's towers have been constructed in this way and in Italy Manfred Flucke makes structures by stacking stones.

Rousseau who currently (2018) is in his early eighties, is still active in adding new items to the site which meanwhile includes some thirty built structures.

The site can be seen from the street and when he is present Rousseau will be happy to meet visitors

* Article (april 2013) on Jean-Michel Chesné's weblog (includes a series of pictures)
* Article (september 2015) on website Actu France
* Article (december 2016) on website Le Mille-Pattes
* Article (august 2017) in regional newspaper La Nouvelle Republique
* Video by TV France 3 on Facebook (2018, 2'33")

Michel Rousseau
Jardin aux pierres perdus
along the D303
Bessé-sur-Braye, dept Sarthe, région Pays de la Loire, France
can be seen from the road

September 14, 2018

Emilan Grgurić, Eden, Park i kipovi / Eden, park and statues

all pictures except the last one
courtesy of Pavel Konečný

Above picture shows part of a sculpture garden in Kukljica, a small community on the Isle of Ugljan in Croatia. Although an extensive series of photographs was published in 2016 (see documentation), this art environment remained undocumented on the internet until in September 2018 Pavel Konečný for the first time reported about it.

a picture of the artist

Life and works

Currently there is no biographic information available about Emilan Grgurić, who created this site, except that he was born in 1919 and passed away in 1997.

Pavel Konečný has reported that Grgurić for some thirty years has been active in transforming house and garden into an art environment, so it might be that Grgurić began in the 1960's when he was in his forties.

Konečný has also reported that the garden of some 2000 m² includes some 35 statues made from concrete and that the interior walls have been decorated with some 20 large-scale concrete high reliefs.

Grgurić's sculptures from concrete (left above a self-portrait), which in general demonstrate a high-quality way of working in a rather classic and realistic style.  

The sculpture below with five people (a couple with children?) on an elaborately worked pedestal, shows what performance Grgurić was capable of. The garden has a number of such large constructions provided with sculptures.

The living house

The house on the property, named Villa Katarina after Grgurić's mother, has a ground plan of a four-leaf clover and was designed and built by the artist himself.

The facade of the house, as in above picture, has a rather striking design. On its top there is a sculpture that represents Grgurić's mother.

One can assume that this house can be classified as a singular architecture.

A large number of wall decorations in the interior

The interior of the Villa includes another part of this art environment, which  consists of some 20 scenes added to the interior walls.

These scenes include for the most part small-scale two- or three-dimensional items of cement, which are placed on walls of a specific deep red, green or blue color.

There are scenes in which various people can be seen in all kinds of poses, many in a certain way active mostly without any connection between these activities. These scenes may relate to biblical stories, Croatian history and Greek mythology.

Some walls have inscriptions, such as the one in the picture below, entitled Emilanovih Istina (Emilian's truth). Just to give an impression of Grgurić's thoughts, here is a (provisional) translation of the text, produced with Google Translate:

Emilian's truth
the spirit created the body 
the body overcomes the spirit
 it is true and lazy
 it is difficult to have a lucite of truth
 there is only a lie or not
 the sweetness of happiness blurs the spirit 
 the slack is sweet
 the real truth rarely when it is direct
 I learned from the truth that you have freed the spirit

this picture by Darko Grundler, 
from the series mentioned in the documentation

Other walls as well as a number of statues in the garden also are equipped with inscriptions.

It is be hoped that a documentation and description will be made of the various elements of this art environment, which can be considered as one of the important sites in Europe. Knowing Pavel Konečný he will certainly take action to that end.

* as said above with regard to this art environment, the internet until recently had no textual documentation
* however there is a public photo series available, made in 2016 by Darko Grundler
* and in september 2018 Konečný reported about his discovery on SPACES website
* in september 2018 Konečný also published two videos on Facebook, 2018. the first one presenting the reliefs on the interior walls.

And a second one presents the sculptures in the garden

Emilan Grgurić
Eden, Park i kipovi
Kukljica, Isle of Ugljan, Croatia
this art environment is not open to the public

August 21, 2018

Alexander Fateev, Скульптор из Долгопрудный/Sculptor from Dolgoprudny

 pictures from the site on VK of the community
 "Alexander Fateev, sculptor from Dolgoprudny"

In Dolgoprudny, a town in the northern part of the agglomeration of Moscow, Alexander Fateev has created an art environment amidst a lively urban area.

Life and work

Born probably in the late 1950's Alexander Fateev was trained as a cook, a profession he also practiced during his years in military service. In 1981 he started a shoe repair shop in Dolgoprudny along the Ulitsa Sportivnaya. The workshop is located on a square surrounded by trees near the municipal theater (theater Gorod).

In 2005 Fateev started a project to beautify the environment of the workshop. The beginning was that he cut colored plastic bottles into pieces which he added together into colorful flowers that were hung in the trees around the shop. 

Fateev also made colored translucent bulbs with lamps. 

Hung in the trees these creations produce an attractive illumination, which in wintertime -especially around Christmas- is an atmospheric attraction that receives a lot of interest of passersby.

However, Fateev's art environment is characterized in particular by his sculptures made of metal. Using empty gas bottles and pieces of sheet metal, he has created a variety of characters that are set up around the shop or on its roof. 

One of his first creations in metal was a tough woodcutter and then he made a woman with a youngster, as in above picture. 

And there are wizards, aliens, fantasy and cartoon characters, a variety of animals such as the cat Masha and the dog Zuzha (well known toy and fairytale characters in Russia), but also a life-size crocodile in a small pond.

Fateev also made a number of wooden structures, such as some unusual birdhouses hung in the trees. And located on the site around the shop, a small wooden building that mimics Baba Yaga's hut  can be entered by young visitors.

To counter vandalism, the sculptures on the site around the store are firmly anchored in the ground with a fastening of up to one and a half meters.

But it has happened that someone damaged a metal stork on the roof and Fateev had to work on recovery for hours.

In spite of such a happening, Fateev remains faithful to the goal he had in mind when he started his project, namely to contribute to embellishing the city. 

The local authorities appreciate his activity, as evidenced by a diploma that the city awarded to him in 2014.

* Site on VK of the community "Alexander Fateev, sculptor from Dolgoprudny"
* Interview (march 2016) with a regional newspaper on website mosregtoday
* A collection of three articles in local newspapers (May 2010, May 2012 and September 2013) on the website of the library of  Dolgoprudny
* Video (March 2016, You Tube, 0'.57")

Alexander Fateev
Sculptor from Dolgoprudny
Ulitsa Sportivnaya  (near theater Gorod), 
Dolgoprudny, Moscow Region, Russia
visitors welcome

August 06, 2018

Jean-Luc Guillou, La vie en rose/Life in pink

 pictures are screen prints from Serflac's video 

Above house, exuberantly decorated in a various ways, is located along the D787 departmental road in Brittany, France, near la Villeneuve (a community of Calac).

Life and works

This art environment has been created by Jean-Luc Guillou, about whom no biographic information is available, except that his job involves making music at regional markets with a classical street organ (a Limonaire).

Judging by the colorful decorations and the accompanying texts Guillou could be a lively person. The recommendation in above picture says Vie donc joyeux. Qu'importe l'avenir. Rève (Live happily. What does the future matter. Dream).

And a decorated cabin around the house is referred to as La vie en rose (Life in pink),  what could be a suitable name of this to my knowledge nameless art environment.

The decorations have been added to the walls by paint and they may represent flowers or all kinds of small motifs. Attached to the walls there are also various smaller items, such as jars, moons, faces, washers, usually vividly colored.

Apart from the decorations and texts on the walls, Guillou has been making various constructions from metal items such as old oil drums, drain pipes and garden tools, which depict a light house, a play set or a funny character. as in the picture below.

Facing Guillou's house, on the other side of the road, there is a topiary hedge in the form of two large snake-like creatures that look at each other, as in the picture below.

Compared with the way in which the house is decorated, the making of such a topiary seems to be of a quite different nature. so it's not obvious that Guillou is it's author. The internet does not provide any information about this.

* Entry (september 2015) on Sophie Lepetit's weblog
* Video by Serflac (1'03", You Tube, may 2018)

Jean-Luc Guillou
"La vie en rose"
Callac, dept Côtes d'Armor, region Brittany, France
can be seen from the street 
(along departmental road D787 at the exit to La Villeneuve)

July 27, 2018

Ernest Wahr, Trpasličí skála / Dwarfs rock

 pictures by Pavel Konečný

Czech Switzerland, also known as Bohemian Switzerland, is a touristic area in the north west of the Czech Republic, north of Prague,  characterized by a a lot of natural beauty, in particular rocks of sandstone.

A specific touristic spot is the art environment named Trpasličí Skála, an ensemble of sculptures of dwarfs carved into the rocks in a rocky area high above the road between Jetřichovice and Rynartice.

This art environment originated in the 19th century but the available sources on the internet give different information about who created the site and when it was started. Some sources mention that Eduard Vater was the creator, starting the work either in the early 1830's or in 1870, other sources say it was Ernest Wahr, who began in the early 1830's.

Following Andrea Svitáková who in her doctoral dissertation about Stanislav Rolinek (see documentation) sideways mentions the Dwarfs Rock, in all probability a native stone mason named Ernest Wahr in 1833 created the rock sculptures, while a local farmer named Eduard Vater around 1870 has been working with the rock, probably taking care of maintenance and repairing the path that leads to the site, a project that later was completed by his son Ernst, who died in 1882.

In making his creation, Wahr may have been inspired by a local legend concerning an old poor woman collecting wood in the forest, who got into trouble and was rescued by a number of dwarfs popping up out of nowhere.

The art environment includes a number of separate sculptures in relief of dwarfs in various poses, such as reading a book, crawling up on hands and feet or just sitting. A relation with the fairytale of Snow White and the seven dwarfs seems also obvious.

For decades the site was only known locally. Not much attention was paid to it and the sculptures became covered with moss.

In the 1980's, especially because of increasing tourism, the significance of the site was recognized. In 1989 the sculptures have been cleaned and repainted and the access stage of the site has been improved.

This art environment has now also been included in a list of protected monuments.

Andrea Svitáková, Stanislav Rolinek a sochartstvi v prirode (Bakalářská diplomová prác. Masarykova univerzita. Filozofická fakulta), Brno, 2010.The relevant text is on p. 40 and footnote 146
* Documentation of the site as a cultural monument
* More pictures by Pavel Konečný on Facebook
* The internet has a variety of sites about this art environment, which in general refer to the creations from a touristic point of view, for example vybezek and Turistika Ceské Syýcarsko

Ernest Wahr
Dwarfs rock
along the road from Jetřichovice to Rynartice, not far from Rynartice
Děčín district, Czech Republic
the spot is marked with a small sign on a pole along the road

July 15, 2018

Paul and Réjane Aucordonnier, Jardin décoré/Decorated garden

Verdille is a rather small community with less then 400 inhabitants in the Charente area, France. In this village there is an art environment, which so far has received very little attention on the internet, although it is an interesting site with a large and varied number of creations.

Life and works

This site was created in the garden of their home by Paul Aucordonnier (1934-1997) and his wife Réjane (b. 1934), who both were employed in agriculture. 

It all probably started when in the mid-1960's they built a well in their garden and felt inspired to continue making all kinds of constructions and decorations to beautify their garden. During walks in the area the couple collected stones and other materials, with which they went to work at the weekend.

The garden includes a variety of replicas of famous places and buildings, such as the cave and the Notre Dame in Lourdes, the cathedral in Chartres and the Mont Saint Michel.

Due to the frequent use of pebbles for finishing the exterior of the buildings, the site has been given a specific, realistic appearance.

Besides the replicas of famous buildings, the garden also includes smaller structures, sometimes decorated with sculptures with a classic character or with types derived from fairy tales, as in the above illustrations.

The couple has been active in constructing and maintaining this art environment for about thirty years.

Paul Aucordonnier died in 1997. Currently (2018) Réjane is in her early 80's and she is no longer able to take care of the site. It is not known if there are initiatives to maintain this art environment for the future.

* The only source on the internet about this art environment is Sophie Lepetit's weblog, with articles on May 7, 2018 and May 8, 2018.

Paul and Réjane Aucordonnier
Jardin décoré
16140 Verdille, Charente, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
can be seen from the road

July 08, 2018

Raimo Flink, Keksintöjen puutarha/Garden of inventions

picture from website Keksinnöt

Located in a protected area near Lempäälä, Finland, this fairly recently created art environment is characterized by an approach that includes both creative expression and research into new, sustainable lifestyle and methods of production.

Life and works

Born in 1940 in Pukkila, Raimo Flink after his primary education, went to the Technical School in Helsinki. Graduated in 1965, he had various jobs and then went to work for many years at the telecommunications company in Tampere, not far from Pukkila.

In the many years he had this job Flink wrote various manuals on technical subjects. Due to a restructuring of the company in 1993 he was fired, after which as an independent entrepreneur he started several projects.

In 1998, for example, he set up an environmental science park connected to the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, that became a beloved destination, visited by many school classes and their teachers

overview (2003) of the park (from ekoinfo website)

Due to a heart attack he had in 2003, Flink left this project in 2005, to focus on writing books, both novels and non-fiction in the field of ecological lifestyle and ways of production .

Over the years Raimo had developed interest in ecology, which he expressed by conducting research into practical tools and materials, but also by making a variety of inventions in this field.

Some of those inventions are very suitable for use in gardening. In this regard Raimo points in particular to an installation for the purity of domestic waste water and to niksibetoni, as it is called in Finnish, a specific mixture of water, cement powder and mechanical shredded textiles.

In the garden of Raiko's summer house in Lempäälä various items demonstrate the practical application ofniksibetoni as regards paths, bridges or edges of flower beds. In 2014, to share his experiences with the items he had invented and had used in the garden, he published a book entitled Keksintöjen Puutarha (Garden of inventions).

Apart from practical items Raimo also made some special creations from niksibetoni he installed in the garden, which in this way was transformed into an art environment.

cactus garden (from ekoinfo website)

The cactus garden is an ensemble inspired by a journey which had conducted Raimo to Mexico. It consists of a collection of different cacti, performed in niksibetoni.  One of these cacti, partly visible on the right site of above photo, is about 5,5 meters high.

picture courtesy of Sophie Lepetit 

Completed in January 2017, the mammoth of some 4.5 meters high is a most impressive creation.

Constructing this homage to an extinct animal took up a couple of months and hundreds of bags of niksibetoni, but it was not necessary to use molds or reinforcement.To do the casting sheet metal was used. The sculpture is hollow inside and there is a bench to sit on for those who enter through a ladder.

picture from website Keksinnöt

The high rising palm tree, left on above picture, was completed summer 2017. It is a tribute to people who have died of cancer and with this sculpture Raimo wants to warn people who are engaged in making constructions to use safe and non-toxic materials. A special feature of this palm tree is it's ability to blow out vapor.

Apart from the above-mentioned creations, there are other, smaller sculptures, some depicting animals or human characters. and there is also a construction which is related to the cultivation of strawberries.

* Flink's website Eko Info
* Article (July 2017) by Lauri Seppä  on website ITE Pirkanmaala
* Article (January 2017) in newspaper Aamuleehti with pictures of the site in wintertime and of the interior of the mammoth
* A series of photos (2018) by Sophie Lepetit in an albumoin Facebook

* Video (June 2018)  by Maaseudun Sivistysliito (Association for Rural Education) (You Tube, 8'30")

* Video Betonimammuttimies by Yle Areena (2017) published on Facebook

Raimo Flink
Garden of inventions
Lempäälä, Pirkanmaa, Central and Western Finland, Finland
to visit the site consult website Ekoinfo