pictures courtesy of Bruno Druille
As far as I know this outsider environment in the south of France has no special name, so I just refer to it as "sculpture garden". It is characterized by its large number of animals, constructed by applying concrete to a model of iron gauze.
Life and works*
The sculpture garden has been created by Hubert Bastouil, born in 1932 in a family of farmers in Saint Martin Lalande. At first he had a job as a farmer, but when he was around age 27 he went to work in a metalworking company.
He showed a lot of technical insight and was able to improve the machinery in such a way that production could proceed much faster.
At age 40 he began his own company in metal products, especially windows, running this firm together with his wife Georgette. When in later years, because of health problems, Bastouil had to restrict his activities, Mrs Bastouil would continue managing the company.
All this years, Bastouil with his outspoken technical talent, did not show any urge to make artistic creations.
This changed however when mrs Bastouil thought it would be fine to have the garden decorated with kind of a rock. Bastouil, who meanwhile had retired, tried to make one from concrete, but he had to experience this was not such a successful venture.
A garden with a zoo of sculpted animals
Then, when visiting the zoo in the Bois de Vincennes in Paris, he discovered that by applying layers of cement mixed with fiber on a model of iron gauze, one could make voluminous constructions.
Starting around 1997 it became his passion to construct life-sized sculptures of all kinds of animals.
The garden around the house meanwhile has an extensive collection. One will come along a rhinoceros, a crocodile, elephants, deer, giraffes and so on....a complete zoo...
The creations are rather naturalistic, in appearance and in the way they haven been painted. It has been reported that Bastioul uses images of animals in children's books as a model.
Within their possibilities and by appointment, the couple will receive visitors.
Notre-Dame de Bassens
From the 12th century on the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Bassens is a spot of pilgrimage, located in the fields north of Saint Martin Lalande. Working for three years with a group of friends, and using the same technique he applies for the creation of the sculptures, Bastouil has been constructing there a Lourdes grotto (from 2000 untill 2002).
Documentation, more pictures
* Regional newspaper Couleur Lauragais, nr 123 (june 2010, in french, with pictures)
* Weblog Bruno se lance (in french), with pictures of the sculpture garden and the Notre-Dame de Bassens
* Articles with a lot of pictures in the weblogs De l'art improbable aux jardins insolites (jan 2014) and Les grigris de Sophie (may 2014)
* When preparing the original version of this post (july 2011) the internet just had a few sources dealing with this environment. The best source was an article in the regional paper Couleur Lauragais, upon which I have drawn a lot preparing this post. Meanwhile this site has been decribed in the blogs of Jean-Louis Bigou and Sophie Lepetit (see documentation)
Route ancienne 113
11400 Saint Martin Lalande FR
visits only on appointment