December 30, 2008

Rémy Callot, Palisade avec frescoes / Enclosure with frescoes

this picture and the next three (2010) courtesy of Sophie Lepetit 
from her weblog

This art environment was a hidden treasure until it was discovered after its author had died and the city wanted to demolish house and garden to construct a roundabout.

Life and works

Rémy Callot (1926-2001) lived in the industrious community of Carvin in the north of France, where he had an administrative function at the office of a mining company.

Due to an accident in his youth he had lost his left forearm, but this didn't stop him making paintings and mosaics as a self-taught artist. 

When Callot in 1966 moved into a house, actually a kind of barrack, with a plot of land of some 400 m² at the rue Michel Montaigne in Carvin, he surrounded the site with a palisade and then, in the late 1980s, when retired, he began decorating the enclosure with colorful frescoes and mosaics.

It took him various years to complete this project, which resulted in 19 decorated panels with a total surface of 56 m².

After Callot died in 2001 his house remained uninhabited and his art environment remained unnoticed.

However, this changed in 2006, when the city had developed plans for a new layout of the street to make a roundabout (or maybe a parking). At the moment the house had to be removed, the frescoes were discovered. The authorities made the wise decision to postpone the public works and preserve the artwork.

The city's cultural center, Centre Jean Eiffel, was actively involved in this decision.

Future of the site

Currently the frescoes are on display on the enclosure walls of Callot's plot. Kind of an open air exhibition.

The Cercle des amis de Rémy Callot, established in November 2008, started a discussion to generate ideas about the future of the site. Maybe it could become kind of a musée jardin, an open air museum.

It would take time to develop plans, but end November 2013 the newspaper Voix du Nord reported that a plan had been made to transform the site into an artist's residence with a workshop, annex to a room for conferences, an exposition room and a café. Now funds have to be acquired.

Expositions 2011 and 2018 

In September 2011 the Centre Jean Eiffel in Carvin had a first exposition of Callot's ceramics, entitled Les mondes de Rémy Callot (Rémy Callot's worlds).

picture courtesy of Center Jean Eiffel

It turns out that some two hundred ceramic creations were part of his legacy which was donated to the city by the family. This collection, mostly in a rather good condition, gives a good impression of Callot's artistic potential.

Pictures of exposed ceramics on the FB-page of the Cercle des Amis de Rémy Callot (Group of Friends).

In January 2018 another exposition was held, showing -often for the first time- drawings and ceramics by Callot (jan 12-feb 21, 2018, l'Atelier Média, Place de la Gare, Carvin)

Renovation of some mosaics and the area around the site

In March 2020 it was announced that the city will enhance the area around the site, which will become a Rémy Callot Square, by transforming it into a public square, enhanced by adding vegetation and installing benches and tables. The project includes the restoration of mosaics that were badly damaged during the last two winters.

Documentation/more pictures
* Website of the association of friends
Véronique Moulinié, Comment naissent les œuvres des singuliers? (How is the artwork of singular artists born?). A propos de quelques sites dans le Nord-Pas-de-Calais et ailleurs, in Heinich, Nathalie et Shapiro, R. (Eds), De l’artification. Enquêtes sur le passage à l’art, Paris (Eds de l’école des hautes études en sciences sociales, EHESS, Collection Cas de figure), 2012. pp 63-79.
This study (for a large part available on Google Books) describes the way Callot's creation was discovered and how various actors in the public domain dealt with the artist and the artworks.
The author compares these developments with those around the discovery of the artworks created by Jean Smilowski who lived in the city of Lille, also located in northern France:
* L'inventaire général du patrimoine culturel, Région Hauts-de-France (Official inventory of french cultural heritage)
* Series of pictures on the city's Flickr page 
* Elodie Guillaume, La conservation des mosaïques de Rémy Callot, un habitant paysagiste.(Dissertation in contemporary art history, University Lille III Charles De Gaulle, 2005)
* Tiphaine Kempka, La découverte du jardin secret de Rémy Callot, in: d'Étonnants jardins en Nord-Pas de Calais, Lyn (Ed. Lieux-dits), 2015. pp. 32-35
* The internet has a dynamic representation by Typhaine Kempka of the plan of the Fondation Callot
* Website Habitants-paysagistes (by Lille Art Museum from march 2018 on) has a variety of pictures from their own archives
Article about the site by Sonia Terhzaz on her website Cartographie des Rocamberlus (environments d'art singulier), reporting the visit she paid in June 2021

first published December 2008, last revised April 2023

Rémy Callot
Palisade with mosaics
Carvin, dept Pas de Calais, region Hauts-de-France,  France
on the corner of the rue de la Gare and the rue Michel Montaigne 
mosaics can be seen from the street

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