January 14, 2019

Camille Jamain, Musée des Curiosités/Museum of Curiosities

the central driveway leading to the museum
Camille Jamain can be seen standing on the right 
behind the pedestal with a white ornament 

Some French art environments are almost exclusively known because of postcards dating from the beginning of the 20th century ¹. This also applies to a site that has existed in the small municipality of La Croix-en-Touraine, located along the river Cher in the Loire Valley, near the famous Chenonceau castle.

Camille Jamain is known as the creator of this art environment which has as its central element a richly decorated building that houses a Museum of Curiosities. 

On the postcards Jamain is presented as a painter. The internet has no biographical information about him, and it also is not known when the Museum was decorated, what kind of curiosities were exhibited inside, when the other parts of the art environment came into being and when the site ceased to exist.

Those other parts of the site were also rather curious. The second photo from above shows an entrance to a passage of the moon and the photo above is the pavilion of the lotteries and souvenirs.

The picture above shows the Facade of the castle and the one below shows the Aquarium.

The castle could be the structure that is visible next to the standing person on the right of the picture. This structure seems to be decorated with rocaille. It includes some sculptures and at the bottom there is a shrine (with a Maria statue ?). 

In the photo below there appears to be a small aquarium indeed and the person sitting at the table on the left could be Camille Jamain himself.

Considering that in the early years of the 20th century when the photos were made, people usually had to pose, the postcards show a lively and cozy atmosphere, so we could assume that this site was kind of a small-scale amusement park. That Jamain himself was the publisher of a number of postcards, that he was promoting his site as très curieux à visiter (very curious to visit) and that there was a buvette (beverage buffet), points out that Jamain had the intention to attract and entertain visitors.

On the postcards the site is mentioned as Robinson 1000 mottes, a name I did not use in the title of this post, because I have no idea how to denote that naming and it is also unclear to me what -in the context of  this art environment- a correct English translation would be for the french term motte ².

* Website Bléré-Val de Cher has a short referral to the site and a series of seven postcards
* Short referral and two postcards on website Drolatique Touraine
* Series of postcards on weblog Amboise et Touraine - Balades

¹ For example the Palais artistique by Pierre Dange
² In english motte is clod, a small piece of compact earth, as one can find in a garden for example, so the name of the site might refer to an area with a large quantity of clods

Camille Jamain
Robinson 1000 mottes
La Croix-en-Touraine, dept Indre-et-Loire, region Centre-Val de Loire, France
site doesn't exist anymore

December 31, 2018

Yuri Dunaev, Памятники из железного лома/Monuments of iron scrap

monument marking the 180ᐤ  meridian
all pictures courtesy of Andrey Shapran ¹
(click to enlarge)

This blog understands Europe in a geographical sense and so it includes the land mass west of the Urals. However, the art environment presented here is located east of the Urals, in the extreme north-west of Arctic Russia, in the district of Chukotka, an area with a harsh climate, bisected by the 180ᐤ meridian. 

Presenting here these monuments of iron scrap that together form the art environment, is not only due to their impressive appearance, but can also be based upon the various honoring references these sculptures include to European explorers and other courageous people of both Russian and Western origin

 Monument in honor of James Cook 

Life and works

The iron sculptures presented here have been created by Yuri Alexandrovich Dunaev who grew up in Tajikistan and at a young age already dreamed of becoming a pilot. He tried to enter a school for aviation to become a pilot, but could not afford the registration fee. So in Uzbekistan he did a study for air traffic controller. During his military service he was a radio-operator.

Around 1977 he became air traffic controller at Cape Schmidt airport in the Chukotka district in the far north west of Russia, a job he currently -after over forty years- still fulfills. He lives in an apartment in the small community of Ryrkaypiy, not far from the airport.

 the monument for James Cook in front of 
apartment buildings in the community of Cape Smith

When James Cook -on discovery voyage in 1778- for the first time in western history sailed past the coast of Chukotka, he named the area Cape North. 

In 1934 the area was renamed Cape Schmidt in honor of Otto Yulyevich Schmidt (1891-1956), in the Soviet Union a famous scientist and leader of expeditions, such as the North Pole expedition in 1933-1934 with the steamer Chelyuskin  (the ship crashed after being stuck in the ice for five months, after which the passengers stayed in makeshift huts, to be rescued eventually by many flights of aircraft).

In the 1980's Dunaev began making sculptures, mainly using iron scrap he collected at the local dump.  The local authorities gave him a permit to search for useful items at the dump, friends helped him to transport large material, and it also happened that he got help from the army, for example by making a crane available to install a high rising monument.

the monument "The spit of two pilots"
located near the community of Cape Smith

Over the years, Dunaev has created some twelve large-scale monuments, which are interconnected by an overarching theme, that includes remembering specific characteristics and (sometimes dramatic) events of the area of Cape Schmidt and honoring those involved in these events.

One such characteristic is that the 180ᐤ  meridian runs over land in this area. And its special that there are the only two spots in the world where this meridian goes over land, namely Cape Schmidt and the Fiji Islands Otherwise the meridian runs over the oceans.The monument was erected in September 1980 and is 12 m high. The numbers 1, 8 and 0 are executed in triplicate, each set forming a triangle, with each triangle painted in its own color, white, blue and red.

The monument for James Cook  (1728-1779), honors the British explorer who in 1778 was the first European to map the North Cape. It is three meters high and it was installed in 1998 in the community of Cape Smith, which is some six km from Ryrkaypiy, where Dunaev lives.. The guns left and right, which rest on aircraft landing gear, initially could fire salvos during festivities, but because of safety that capacity has been removed.

The Spit of two pilots, installed in 1987, is a monument in honor of the American pilots Ben Eyelson en Earl Borland, who in 1929 crashed with their plane while rescuing cargo from a ship stuck in the ice. It is located near the community of Cape Smith.

The sculpture is decorated with a propeller of an airplane and an image of a flag that combines the flags of Russia and the United States. At the top of the creation an iron flame includes a bell that rings when the wind rises, a quality that can serve as a beacon for ships in fog.

Monument  Ilyushin IL 14 

The plane pictured above is an Ilyushin Il 14, in service from 1954 on in civil and military aviation. It was installed in 1991 as a Monument in honor of civil aviation  It was donated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation with thanks for Dunaev's perseverance in creating kind of a museum and preserving the memory of civil aviation

 Monument in memory of an accident 
during an international expedition in 1993

The monument pictured above was created in memory of an accident during an international expedition  in Chucotka in 1993. when a helicopter with French researchers on board crashed, which resulted in the death of eight people.

Installed in 1995 the monument includes eight polished semi-precious stones behind an armored windscreen of a TU-16 plane.

Pictured below is the monument in honor of  Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld  (1832-1901), who was a geologist and Arctic explorer. He was born in Finland but spent a large part of his life in Sweden. He became known from his expeditions to Greenland and Spitsbergen,1872-1873 and the expedition of 1878-1879 when he was the first to discover and sail the Northeast Passage.

Near the North Cape the ship was caught in ice that drifted away. Only later, when the ice became thinner, the ship was released.

The monument, surrounded with anchors, includes a globe that shows the continents, the various seas and the Arctic area with the trajectory of the Northern Sea Route. Nowadays, because of the changes in the climate, the northern route is a large part of the year free of ice, so it becomes more attractive for commercial shipping.

 Monument in honor of Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld

Currently Dunayev still is considering plans to expand the acreage of monuments and he also active in the maintenance of the current monuments.

* Andrey Shapran, "Duneav. History of the Arctic air traffic controller-sculptor", article (July 2018) on website LES Alpha (with photographs by the author)
* Evgeny Basov, "Cape Otto Schmidt.The man who erects monuments", article (November 2017) on website Live Journal
* Odynokiy, "Autodidact sculptor from Cape Schmidt ...", article (July 2016) in Life Journal
* An article (July 2016) in Life Journal about the crash of the two American pilots in 1929, the search for their bodies and their funeral
* Article on the website of a Chukotka travel agency about travelling to and in Chukotka

¹ Andrey Shapran is a well known photographer in Russia. To get an impression of some specific aspects of the area where Dunaev's monuments are located, take a look at his series photos Cape North (2015, about living conditions in Cape North) and First Uranium (2015, about a remote penal camp (1950-1953) where prisoners worked on the extraction of uranium)

Yuri Dunaev
Monuments of iron scrap
Cape Schmidt (Ryrkaypiy), Chukotka district, Russia
monuments situated in the open air

December 24, 2018

Alphonso Calleja, Bestiaire de ciment/Bestiary from concrete

pictures (1990) courtesy of photographer 
© Francis David and the © Lille Art Museum

In the field of french art environments it was assumed that the creation Bestiaire de ciment (Bestiary from concrete) had been completely lost after the death of its maker, Alphonso Calleja.

Indeed, the sculpture garden as such doesn't exist anymore, but in 2018 reports have appeared which show that a large number of works have been preserved.

Life and works

Alphonso Calleja (1915 - ?) was born in Santiago du Chili, the capital of Chile, South America. In 1920 he moved with his family to France, where as an adult he worked in the paper mill Cellulose de Pin in Biganos, while he lived in the nearby community Gujan-Mestras.

These places are located along the Bassin d'Arcachon, a bay connected to the Atlantic Ocean, about 50 km south-west of Bordeaux. The bay is well-known because of its oyster culture and its surrounding area welcomes many holidaymakers.

As the pictures show, Calleja's house, Villa Soleviento, had a fairly large garden.

In 1969, when Calleja was age 54, he started to decorate the garden with sculptures made of concrete, especially depicting animals, but also certain personalities, such as Charlie Chaplin.

The depicted animals are mainly of African origin, such as zebras, tigers, a panther, a rhinoceros, or a springbok. but Calleja also depicted some prehistoric animals.

The pictures show how the garden looked around 1990. These photos were taken by Francis David, a lover of art environments who between 1978 and 1992 traveled France several weeks a year to photograph these sites. Part of his large collection was published in march 2018 in the documentary website Habitants-Paysagistes edited by the Lille Art Museum.

During the years Calleja actively worked on the production of his bestiary, namely the last decades of the 20th century, the site received little publicity in what was then the literature of researchers of art environments. And when around 2008 writers about these sites became active on the internet, Calleja's sculpture garden already had ceased to exist.

In which year this happened, it was unclear for a long time, but it has recently become known that in 2008 the antiquarian Georges Schellinger, who is established in the region, bought Calleja's collection of sculptures. This sale undoubtedly took place because Calleja was deceased (in which year is not known) and the house probably was sold by the heir(s).

some smaller sculptures

In 2010 antiquarian Schellinger sold the collection of sculptures to an inhabitant of Lège Cap-Ferret, another community located along the Bassin of Arcachon.

When in 2015 the new owner sold his house, Schellinger bought the collection back. It is now located on the densely wooded grounds around the branch office of the antiquarian on the avenue de la Vigne in Lège Cap-Ferret, where it can't be visited.

* "Monsieur Calleja" in: Bulletin de l’Association Les Amis de François Ozenda, n°45, 1992.
* Series of pictures by Francis David on website Habitants-Paysagistes. Cartographie des jardins et maisons singuliers (edited by Lille Art Museum, France)
* Article in regional newspaper La Dépêche du Bassin, nr 1160, August 2018, p. 10 (This publication has been reported by Bruno Montpied in his weblog of December 11, 2018)

Alphonso Calleja
Bestiaire de ciment
(until 2008) 33470 Gujan-Mestras, dept Gironde, region Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
(currently) avenue de la Vigne, 
33970 Lège Cap-Ferret, dept Gironde, region Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
no public visits

December 20, 2018

Roger Petit, Jardin avec des installations de fer/Garden with iron installations

pictures (2017) courtesy of Sophie Lepetit
The picture above shows a backyard located along a street in the community of Couture d'Argenson in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in France. It's a small community with some 400 inhabitants ¹.

Life and works

This.backyard, which is mainly decorated with a variety of items and installations made from discarded ironware, is a creation of Roger Petit, about whom not much biographical data are known.

He was born in may 1951, was enlisted with the French Foreign Legion and joined the French Marine, Never married, he has no children.

Since French soldiers after about 25 years of service may retire when they are in their mid-forties, it is very well possible that Petit in the middle or late 1990's got retired and then settled in Couture d'Argenson. 

And maybe once settled or some years later, he also began decorating the backyard of his house, that is located on a corner, the front side facing a main street while the backyard is adjacent to a side street, separated from that street by a somewhat messy built-up brick wall.

Some stones in this wall are marked with inscriptions, such as le triple fer (the triple iron), la commanderie (the commandery), la plantation (the planting), cedre (cedar) or rouge (red), while there also is a marble nameplate with the name of the resident/creator of the site.

The wall at the rear of the house (actually an assembly of the main building and an adjoining smaller building) is decorated by three large-scale compositions of iron elements.  The picture below shows one of these creations,  a more or less haphazard combination of all kinds of iron rings, rods and objects. probably just meant as a creation with a decorative function.

Incidentally, the wall also contains smaller items, sometimes textual in nature, but mostly with a decorative character.

Most of the iron items that Petit uses in his installations come from the dump, although he also buys these nowadays.

In the back of the garden there is an installation consisting of an accumulation of both large and smaller iron items such as corrugated iron, fences, rings and a street sign, a constellation that a lot of people will not regard as a creative construction. 

Indeed, the local authorities are not so happy with the site, but Petit has a good relationship with the local residents.

* Entry (march 2018) on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit
* Two pictures (2014) on the weblog Pedalons
Video by Bogey Bogey (1'43", You Tube, nov 2016)

¹ I like to acknowledge that this post is based on an article in the weblog of Sophie Lepetit, which as far as I know is the only available source on the internet discussing this site.

Roger Petit
Jardin avec des installations de fer
2 route Gours
79110 Couture d'Argenson, dept Deux-Sèvres, region Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
can be seen from the road

December 06, 2018

Timo Teittinen, Veistoksia talon ympärillä/Sculptures around the house

this picture and the next four (2018)
courtesy of Kimmo Heikkillä

Kuosmala is a small community in the Southern Savonia region in Eastern Finland.

Life and works

It is also the place where Timo Teittinen, born in August 1964, is so active in the production of wooden sculptures, that it can be said there is an art environment in development. 

Creating wooden sculptures with the help of a chainsaw for Teittinen is an adventure that he has started only relatively recently.

Initially he worked as a farmer, especially in the livestock sector, but at a certain point this business was only profitable with further expansion of the livestock, a development Teittinen did not opt for. 

So probably around 2015 he chose another professional activity, which he found in timber construction. among other things the construction of log cabins.

On You Tube one can find a video from early 2016 that shows Teittinen active in building such as log cabin, with a lifting device, a chainsaw, a ruler, a spirit level and a hammer as the only tools.

Around the same time he also began making wooden sculptures with a chainsaw. It has been reported that especially in winter 2016/2017 he worked with a big commitment.


In Finland people love to decorate the garden or driveway of their house with a wooden bear and Teittinen obviously creates bears (also on order), but the remarkable thing about his creativity is that he also depicts other ("non-commercial") characters in wood. These creations have a specific expressiveness, which testifies to an expert signature, sometimes with references to old sagas and legends.

Although Teittinen is only relatively briefly active as a self-taught artist, he has already produced a relatively extensive collection, which is displayed near his house, an art environment in an early phase.

this picture (2017) from newspaper Länsi-Savo

Teittinen now already participates in an exhibition, an overview of ITE art in Southern Savonia, which can be seen in the Finnish Forest Museum in Lustå in Punkaharju (April 27, 2018 - January 6, 2019)

* Article (July 2017) in regional newspaper Lansi-Savo
* Article (August 2018) by Minna Tuuva and Kimmo Heikkilä on ITE Kartoitukset weblog
 (This article also appears in the book ITE Samaalla, a report of the Rural Education Association about its research of outsider art (ITE art) in the Southern Savonian region, published december 1st, 2018) 

* Video (2'10", August 2018, You Tube) by Maaseudun Sivistysliito (series of photos by Kimmo Heikkilä)


Timo Teittinen
Sculptures around the house
Penttiläntie 36
51780 Kuosmala, Southern Savonia region, Eastern Finland
visitors welcome

November 26, 2018

Vladimir Buyvol, Скульптури навколо будинку/Sculptures around the house

pictures from journal Na Pensii

In Ukraine Oleksandrivka is a popular name for populated places. Some 100 communities are named this way. The following article is about an art environment in the small community of Oleksandrivka (some 5000 inhabitants), located nearby the Black Sea, just south of Odessa (a large city with over a million inhabitants).

Life and works

Vladimir Pavlovich Buyvol was born in 1929 or 1930 in Odessa. He would live there his entire working life.

Already at primary school his talent for drawing was evident and he got the advise to take an art course. So in 1946 he enrolled in the Odessa Art School, where he probably got a training in decorative and applied art, in any case not a training in visual arts, because it has been reported that he could only realize his wish to be a sculptor and make sculptures after his retirement.

The job Vladimir Buyvol got after the Art School also indicates a training in applied arts, because he went to work at an organization in Odessa that took care of the maintenance of large public buildings in the city. In particular, Buyvol participated in the restoration of  buildings such as the Odessa Opera House, the Philharmonic Society and the train station, probably especially with regard to the decorative elements in these buildings.

He worked for 53 years at this (in the soviet time public) organization. After he retired in the early years of the 21st century, he moved to an old house in Oleksandrivka he had to renovate. 

Buyvol's always dormant desire to make sculptures got a big boost when during a walk with his grandchildren, he saw a swan carrying a weakened newly born youngster on her back. The grandchildren asked grandfather to depict that scene in a sculpture.

What Buyvol did indeed, as can be seen in the first picture where a swan sits on a balustrade with a little one on the back, followed by three other youngsters. 

Some ten years later, in 2014, at the time a regional newspaper interviewed Buyvol, the surroundings of his house were full of sculptures. Working with concrete  Buyvol had created a a large number of sculptures mainly in a classical style, which depict goddesses, mythical heroes and other classical characters, standing on water bassins or pedestals, or resting on balustrades.

At the time of the interview, Buyvol was in his mid eighties and he already had reduced the amount and pace of his sculpting. Moreover there wasn't much more room available around the house for new sculptures. so Buyvol now also had begun creating sculptures on order..

Currently there is no information on the internet about further developments of this art environment. 

* Article (2014) in regional newspaper Na Pensii

Vladimir Pavlovich Buyvol 
Sculptures around the house
Oleksandrivka, Odessa region, Ukraine
actual situation not known, 
but if site still exists it can be seen from the street

November 21, 2018

Manuel Palomares Félix, Villa Pechina

pictures are screen prints from the video by Serflac, 
published here in agreement with the author

Tavernes de la Valldigna is a community of some 17000 inhabitants located along the Spanish Mediterranean coast, about 55 kilometers south of the regional capital Valencia. When editing this post about Villa Pechina in November 2017, the region was hit by flooding caused by heavy rainfall, which is a curious coincidence with the fate that hit this art environment in 1996,

Life and works

Manuel Palomares (1924-2004), born in a modest family in Tavernes de la Valldigna, wouldn't enjoy much education because of the the Spanish civil war in the 1930's.

After World War II, in 1950 he moved to France to work there until in 1960 he returned to his birth town. Here he found a job in construction and he married in 1961. The couple would get three children.

In 1974, at age fifty, Palomares got a traffic accident. He was declared incapacitated for work and received an invalidity allowance.

Owning an inherited piece of land, he decided to use the free time he now had, to construct a building on this site, initially intended as storage for the garden tools.

But then he took a completely different direction. Although before he had no connection with creative activities at all, Palomares got the idea to decorate the construction with shells.

It would become a lifetime project

The house got a steel infrastructure and was bricked up with elements of reinforced concrete. Both the outer and the inner walls were covered with bivalve shells, which Palomares collected on the local beach, selecting especially the small and round ones named pechina shells. Palomares preferred to use white shells to decorate the larger parts of his art environment and maybe that's why he was nicknamed Pepe Blanco.

An outer staircase decorated with shells, flanked above and below by a couple of decorated columns, led to a rooftop that had been transformed into a terrace with various departments, each with its own capacity.

These structural parts were supplemented with a variety of shell-decorated elements standing on their own, such as a roof table sheltered with an umbrella, all kinds of lamps, flower pots, benches, a large freestanding sun dial and also a dog house with a saddle roof.

In the early 1990's Villa Pechina had become a beautiful, harmonious site, but then Palomares became ill and could not properly maintain his creation.

In September 1996, the region was hit by heavy rainfall and strong winds, which caused a catastrophe with a widespread deal of devastation. Villa Pechina was also destroyed. The site was left for what it had become after the storm, a situation that continues until the current decade

Manuel Palomares passed away in 2004.

* Francisco Javier Pérez Rojas, “Villa Pechina en Tavernes de Valldigna (Valencia)”, in Juan Antonio Ramirez (Ed) , Escultecturas margivangentes. La arquitectura fantástica en España. (pp. 308‐318). Madrid (Siruela), 2006 (on Google books a small passage)
* The site got a scholarly review in: Jo Farb Hernández, Singular Spaces. From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, Seattle, 2013 (ISBN 978-0-615-78565-3). A shortened version of this review is available on SPACES website
* Video by Serflac (1'23", feb 2016, You Tube)

Manuel Palomares Félix
Villa Pechina
Tavernas de Valldigna
site in decay, exact location unknown