April 05, 2010

Séraphin Enrico, Jardin de l'Eden/Garden of Eden

all pictures courtesy of
of herbaltablet (Flickr, august 2009)

Seraphin Enrico's Jardin de l'Eden, a wonderful garden with all kind of colourful sculptures, does not exist any more.

Only some of its sculptures have been saved. Like this group of bathers around a small pond, that nowadays is exposed in the Musée-jardin de la Luna Rossa in Caen.

Olivier Thiébaut, who was behind the initiative to start this private museum -in the nineties of the former century- is also closely related to the unearthening of some of Enrico's dumped creations.

Unearthening? Dumped sculptures?

The story has been told by Thiébaut himself and it has been made available for the public in the weblog of Bruno Montpied of march 23, 2008 (text in french).

What follows is a resume.

Life and works

Séraphin Enrico (1898-1989) was born in Mougrando, Italy. After WWI he left for France to find a job as a mason. From 1925 on he had a house in the community of St Calais, in the Sarthe area, east of the city of le Mans.

In 1959, when he was in his early sixties, he began making sculptures as a decoration of the garden around the house. Enrico continued this creative activity for more then ten years and the garden became a wonderful place to visit. In the 60's and 70s of the former century it attracted a lot of people.

Cariathides et Ste Vierge (avec coquille)

However, when Enrico had become older, he left St Calais, to go to another part of the country (Divonne-les-Bains), where he went to stay with other members of his family who lived there. That was in 1972.

Enrico died in 1989, and it is presumed that he never has been back to St Calais.

Soon after he left, the site must have been demolished, although it is not quite clear to me how and by whom.

Digging for buried sculptures

Anyhow, in 1995 Thiébaut. who was very interested in outsider environments in western France and who was preparing a book about the subject, got the idea to ask permission to do some digging on a plot, an old pond, where as some inhabitants of St Calais said, items of the garden could have been dumped.

And bingo, he and some friends helping him, discovered a number of buried sculptures, most of them still with the lively colours Enrico had used to decorate them. The explorers researched the plot for nearly two weeks, and revealed some interesting sculptures.

These sculptures nowadays are out in the open again, facing the skies, displayed in the garden of the Musée de la Luna Rossa in Caen.

* Olivier Thiébaut, 'De l'art chéologie' pour l'art, in Gazogène, nr 20
* Article in the weblog of Bruno Montpied (march 2008, in french)

Séraphin Enrico
Jardin de l'Eden
(in the 60s and 70s of C20) St Calais, dep Sarthe, FR
site demolished
(some recovered sculptures) Musée-jardin de la Luna Rossa, Caen, Normandy, FR
the museum can be visited on sunday afternoons, apr-oct

1 comment:

  1. Like a real work of archaelogy. What a look that somebody take the job to look after those great sculture pieces and a luck that they successfully managed to find them. And it makes me think if it could be possible that several many others art works like that may be now lying under the earth, without we having any news about their existance. Hope at least that some curious archaelogist or researcher from nowadays or from the future, got to bump with them once.