picture courtesy of Sophie Lepetit from her weblog
Life and works
Renée Bodin (b. 1927), who prefers to be called Hurfane, all her life had the ambition to do some creative mosaic project, probably inspired by her mother who also made mosaics.
Hurfane, who had a job in Paris as a teacher of french and classic languages, in the late 1970's acquired a house with a garden in the small community of Harponvilliers, in the Perche area in France, some 40 kms from Chartres.
And then in 1980 she started the project she had always dreamed of. Because in the first years she was still teaching, she could initially only work on the mosaics in the weekends, but once retired - in 1992 - she could full time be active in transforming the area around the house into an art environment.
Hurfane did everything herself. As she said: "I made the cement myself. I learned how to make concrete when workers came to work at my house. They made fun of me because I wanted to play the mason. The cement is not difficult, it's like a cake with flour " (Je faisais le ciment moi-même. J’ai appris à bétonner quand des ouvriers sont venus faire des travaux chez moi. Ils se sont moqués parce que je voulais jouer au maçon. Le ciment ce n’est pas difficile, c’est comme un gâteau avec de la farine)
this picture and the next one (2008) courtesy of Brigitte, Flickr
The garden got two sectors, a rose one, with mosaics of animals, flowers and all kinds of country life.
At the back side of the house is the blue one, with elements of the universe, such as the sea, the stars, the heavens (as in the next picture).
In 2000 the site was declared a monument (Patrimoine National du XXième siècle, 20th century national heritage). From 2007 on it is owned by the Association of Perche communities, that takes care of the premises. The site is also member of the Chateaux de France organisation.
In 2018, sculptor Jessica Straus from Boston, USA, visited the site and met Hurfane, who at that time was in her early 90s. Jessica wrote an impression of the site in her weblog Quirk (see documentation) and she was clearly impressed by the mosaic work in blue on the back of the house, which reminded her: "It was as if Hurfane’s vision had catapulted itself from human’s puny little concerns to the vastness of earth’s surfaces and finally to the infinite universe"
* Review and pictures (summer 2010) on the website of Sophie Lepetit: long shots and also close ups
* Article (July 2018) in french newspaper l'Écho républicain
* Article (December 2019) by Jessica Straus Creating an Ocean, One Blue Tile at a Time on her weblog
* Video by Cricrimary1 (3'32", Sept 2010, YouTube)
first published aug 2009, last revised dec 2019
Les jardins de la Feuilleraie
28480 Harponvilliers, dept Eure-et-Loir, region Centre-Val de Loire, France
can be visited in summer,
april 15 - nov 2, weekends and tuesdays, 15-19