December 09, 2008

Gabriel Albert, Le jardin sculpté/The sculpture garden



This art environment in Nantillé is one of the classics in France

Life and works

Already as a young boy Gabriel Albert (1904-2000), who created this sculptures garden, wanted to be a sculptor. But, as it can be in the life, reality was different and he had to earn his living as a manual worker, eventually being a carpenter.

Finally, when retired at age 65 Albert could give way to his passion and he began making sculptures, using the technique of adding layers of cement on an iron frame. All his works were displayed in the garden around his house in Nantillé, a community in the department Charente Maritime in south-west France.

For some twenty years, untill 1989, Albert continued making sculptures, all together some 420 creations. He depicted men and women, political personalities, famous people, angels and so on.


Before he died Gabriel Albert sold the whole collection for a symbolic amount to the community of Nantillé.

The site is saved for the future

A group of friends of the garden has been active for many years to promote that the garden would be saved for the future.

Eventually, in march 2012 a regional journal announced that the site in various ways would get a protected status: on the departmental level it was added to the list of Monuments Historiques, the sculptures were added to a national list and finally the site was added to a national list of historical monuments. In this way, depending upon further plans and decision-making, it would become possible to allocate money to maintain the site.

The group of friends has become a more formal Association des Amis du jardin de Gabriel,  in which the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles DRAC (the regional cultural authority) participates.

The garden is not open to the public on a regular basis, although occasionaly visits have been possible, for example during the Journée des Jardins when many (private) gardens in France are open for the general public (around end may, early june).

But one can also see the garden from the road.

Documentation
* A series of pictures by Apolline Lepetit on Facebook
* Weblog of Bernard Maingot with many interesting photographs of an Open Day on June 1, 2008.
* Article on Wikiwand
* Fabrice Bonnifait, "Reconnaissance d'un site touristique en voie de patrimonialisation: le jardin de Gabriel à Nantillé", in Gilles Ferréol, red., Tourisme & Patrimoine, p 199-212, Bruxelles, 2010 (Ed E.M.E), 2010, 298 pages.(source: weblog de Belvert, in french)
* The Regional Council of Poitou Charentes is doing inventarisations of the cultural heritage of the region; in 2011 it published on the internet an inventarisation of Gabriel Albert's works (in french). Following the link you will arrive on a webpage with a plan of the garden, an illustrated inventarisation of the sculptures, and a lot of factual information.
* Video by the Service de l'inventaire du patrimoine culturel (5'58", Daily Motion, 2011)



first published dec 2008, last revised feb 2017

Gabriel Albert
Le jardin sculpté
Hameau de "Chez Audebert"
17770 Nantillé France
only occasionaly open for visits,
but can be seen from the road

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