this picture and the next two courtesy of
herbaltablet (Flickr, august 2009)
Séraphin Enrico's Jardin de l'Eden, an art environment with a variety of colourful sculptures from concrete, doesn't exist any more.
Just some sculptures have been saved, like a group of bathers around a small pond, currently exposed in the Musée-jardin de la Luna Rossa in Caen.
Olivier Thiébaut, who in the 1990s was behind the initiative to start this private museum, is also closely related to the unearthing of some of Enrico's dumped sculptures.
Unearthing? Dumped sculptures?
The story has been told by Thiébaut himself on Bruno Montpied's weblog (march 23, 2008, text in french).
What follows is a resume.
Cariatides et Ste Vierge (avec coquille)
Séraphin Enrico (1898-1989) was born in Mongrando, Italy. After the first World War 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 his house and garden, a creative activity he continued for over ten years.
The site became a popular place to visit and in the 1960s and 70s it attracted a lot of people.
picture from magazine "Vie Mancelle et Sarthoise"
However, when Enrico became older he had to leave St Calais for reasons not listed in the available documentation, but probably against his will. He joined other members of his family, who lived in Divonne-les-Bains.
That was in 1972. Enrico died in 1989 and it is presumed that he has never been in St Calais again..
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 art 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 might have been dumped.
And bingo, Thiébaut and the friends who helped him, discovered a number of buried sculptures, most still with the lively colours Enrico had used to paint them. Moreover, Enrico had constructed his sculptures so robustly, that they emerged out of the dump in their entirety.
The rescued sculptures currently are out in the open again, facing the skies, displayed in the garden of the Musée de la Luna Rossa in Caen.
* Entry on the website Habitants-Paysagistes (by Lille Art Museum), with photos by Francis David of details of the sculptures
* Olivier Thiébaut, "De l'art chéologie" pour l'art, in Gazogène, nr 20
* Articles by Bruno Montpied in his weblog (march 2003) and in his inventory of folk art environments in France Le gazouillis des éléphants, 2017 p. 666-668
Jardin de l'Eden
(in the 1960's and 70's in) St Calais, dep Sarthe, region Pays de la Loire, France
(some recovered sculptures currently in) Musée-jardin de la Luna Rossa,
Caen, dept Calvados, region Normandy, France
the museum can be visited on Sunday afternoons, April-October
first published April 2010, revised January 2018