November 21, 2008

Franck Barret, la Ferme Musée / the Museum at the Farm

pictures from the website of the Musée du Pays Foyen

At his farm, located near Sainte-Foy-la-Grande in the Aquitaine area in France, Franck Barret (1909-1988) had a museum where he exhibited his sculptures. 

Life and works

Born in the community of Saint-Antoine-de-Breuilh in a well to do family of farmers, as a young man Barret was a fan of cycle racing and he wanted a career in this sport. However, due to an accident, in 1934 he had to abandon this ambition.

So he focused upon farming and became the owner of a farm near Sainte-Foy-la-Grande.

After World War II, when he was in his late thirties, Barret got dreams and visions, which may have troubled him, but which anyway led him to depict in sculptures what he saw in his dreams.

Jeanne d'Arc

Untrained in making sculptures, Barret looked around for some material he could use, ending up with clay that could be found in the neighbourhood of the farm. So his sculptures became rather massive and heavy.

They represented all kinds of holy and famous persons, but Barret also created monsters, a Martian, a Cro Magnon man and other characters.

 the Martian

Many of these characters, dressed in imaginative outfits or painted in appropriate colours, were rather terrifying.

Barret for some forty years has been making these creations, which he displayed at the farm in barns adjacent to the farmhouse.

In the 1960s and 1970s local people used to make a Sunday-afternoon trip to the farm to view the sculptures.

Franck Barret died in 1988.

Part of the collection has been saved

After his death the collection became neglected, remained forgotten and since sculptures from clay are rather vulnerable, the collection was in danger of decay.

However, when around 2005 the farm had to be sold, the family looked around for ways to save the creations or at least some of them. They contacted a local group of volunteers who were active in realizing a local museum.

In 2007 this group, presided by Pierre Lamothe, removed the sculptures from the farm, a job of many months, both because of the condition of the creations after all the years of neglect and because of their weight (the largest ones weighed some 300 kilos).

The idea was to show (a selection of) the creations in the local museum. This project required a lot of time, since most activities had to be done by volunteers and many sculptures had to be restored.

In September 2010 however, at the occasion of  the Heritage Night, the museum had a first exposition of some of Barret's creations as reported in the newspaper Sud Ouest of September 22, 2010.

In December 2010 the website of the Musée du Pays Foyen published a new, illustrated page, dealing with life and works of Franck Barret ¹.

Website Habitants-Paysagistes with a series of photos (1988) by Francis David
* Website of the Musée du Pays Foyen  (2010
* Article in regional newspaper Sud-Ouest September 2010
* Jeanine Rivais, "Le monde oublie de Franck Barret, sculpteur", article (1997), on her website

first published Nov ember 2008, last revised February 2021

¹  I like to acknowledge that I could update my original post of November 2008 thanks to the information on the museum's website (December 2010)

Franck Barret
la Ferme Musée
33200 Sainte-Foy-le-Grande, dept Gironde, region Nouvelle Aquitaine, France
site doesn't exist anymore 
creations have been transferred to the local museum. 
visits of the museum on appointment only (see website)

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