November 28, 2008

Fernand Châtelain, le Jardin Humoristique/the Humoristic Garden


Bonjour aux promeneurs. that text is stated on the nameplate of one of the many sculptures made by Fernand Chatelain ¹. I am fond of this sculpted little man who in my very first post welcomed visitors of this weblog.

Life and works

Born in Piacé, France, Fernand Châtelain (1899-1988) first had a job as a baker and then became a farmer. 
When he retired from work in 1962 he and his wife settled in the small community of Fyé, south of Alençon in France, where the couple had acquired a house with a garden facing Fyé's main street.

In 1965 Châtelain began making sculptures which he displayed in the garden along the street: all types of persons, a variety of animals and constructions, such as the Pisa Tower.

All together these slightly over seventy artworks constituted a lively and jolly display, a humoristic garden indeed, also because of Châtelain's funny signs he added to the exhibition.

The creations could be seen (and probably were meant to be seen) from the street, once a national, currently a departmental road. One of Châtelain's impersonations greeted the passers-bye (
Bonjour aux promeneurs) and he added signs telling them how far it was to either Alençon or le Mans.

Fernand Châtelain has been active in creating this art environment for some twenty years.

After he died in 1988 the collection was legated to the community, but for a long time the site wasn't being cared for.

site before restoration
picture (2006) from the former website "les inspirés du bord des routes"


In 2005 however, with the support of the local government, the garden and the sculptures have been restored. This was done under the supervision of Laure Chavanne, who talks about this project in the video below. In 2015 she also published an article about this renovation (see documentation) 

In his weblog of October 6, 2008 Bruno Montpied had a critical review of the restoration  (in french).

Documentation/more pictures
* Laure Chavanne, "Preserver la mémoire des âmes bricoleuses"in d'Étonnants jardins en Nord-Pas de Calais, Lyon (Ed. Les lieux-dits), 2015, pp 31-35. 
* Website Habitants-paysagistes (by Lille Art Museum from march 2018 on) has a series of pictures by Francis David (1982) and l'Aracine (1984-2008)
* Video by Vues sur Loire (3'16", YouTube, uploaded may 2015)

¹ This sculpture currently is part of the collection of the Muséee-jardin de la Luna Rossa 
in Caen, Brittany, France 

Fernand Châtelain
Le jardin humoristique
72610 Fyé, dept Sarthe, region Pays de la Loire, France
along the D 338, at the entrance of the village coming from Alençon
open june 15 - sept 15 on sundays, 14-18 hrs 


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