July 02, 2021

Laurent Delion, Maison decorée / Decorated house

this picture and the other ones published here with friendly
permission of photographer ©Vincent Clémot

The photo above shows a nameplate attached to the left of the entrance door of a house in Saint-Jean-d'Assé, a French municipality with about 1000 inhabitants, located 20 km north of the city of Le Mans. 

The other parts of the house and the associated buildings are just as lavishly decorated. 

Let's go take a look

the house as seen when approaching it from the D338
©Vincent Clémot

Creating an art environment

The house is located on the left side of the D338, a few kilometers north of the center of Saint-Jean-d'Assé. 

When Laurent Delion, a former painter in construction, and his partner Jeannine in 1997 moved into the property, both the living house and the accompanying barns had been plastered almost entirely white.

a closer view of the house, seen from the D338
©Vincent Clémot

Once settled, Delion soon started decorating the walls of his new home and when he was interviewed by Radio France in October 2016, the exterior walls were already heavily decorated with all kinds of items, but no mosaic had yet been applied. 

These mosaic applications were added in the period after 2016 and are present in later photos, such as the ones in this post.

front view of the house
©Vincent Clémot

Viewed from the road, the site now comprises a first section with a decorated barn and a fence, this section merging into the main house with decorated front and side facades. Then the main house has a decorated extension again.

The decorations are of three kinds: numerous colorful items, mosaic decorations and textual elements.

A large variety of decorative items

As for the various items that act as decorative elements, Delion has said it all started with a scooter, a simple wooden object, placed on the edge of the roof. 

To obtain more objects, Delion visited garage sales, thrift shops and similar places where old things can be obtained for little money. Over the years, his passion for collecting these items has resulted in an extensive collection of  all kinds of objects, such as dolls, buddhas, columns, statues of saints, milk cans, toys, just to name a few. 

In addition, Delion also manufactured certain items himself. Everything that has been made of iron or concrete, such as structures of chains, iron uprights, tubular pillars or concrete pedestals with birds, comes from his hand.

Placed on the roofs, hung on the outside walls and gathered on the tiled strip at the front of the barn and the house, the items lose their functional meaning and merge into the whole that as such acquires its own identity and appearance.

Mr Delion welcomes visitors 
©Vincent Clémot
Mosaic decorations

The mosaic decorations have been applied in recent years, especially on the left side and the front of the house. 

In part, these mosaics fill the white space between items previously mounted on the wall, but to a greater extent they have an autonomous decorative function, for example when arranged around a newly applied image of a person's face, a piece of heraldry or a Madonna. 

The items and images around which the mosaic decorations have been grouped are so numerous that almost every piece of wall displays its own theme, such as in the image below, for example, both a milkmaid and a crocodile decorate the wall (the other animals are in front of the wall).

©Vincent Clémot

This way of arranging implies that these themes can only be observed up close, and that their specific meaning disappears and merges into a broader view if the decorations are looked at from some distance,
Most of the images in this post present the decorations from that broader view, which is a conscious choice, because this is the best way to give an impression of the design of this art environment as such.

Visitors of this blog who want to see the details of the decorations can check out the website with photos that can easily be enlarged, as referred to in the documentation below.

some textual elements in the front part of the site
©Vincent Clémot

Textual elements

In Delion's art environment the textual elements are rather common, so they deserve separate mention as an image-determining element.

There are posters with practical notices, saying, for example, that visitors are welcome, are allowed to take pictures, are asked to respect the times when the meal is consumed and not to turn their car in view of the neighbours. 

But there are also textual expressions with a more aphoristic meaning, such as this one:

  Avoir une pair de mains, c'est bien. Mais savoir s'en servir, c'est mieux, n'est ce pas ? (Having a 
  pair of hands is good. But knowing how to use it is better, isn't it?)

Or this one:

  Je suis comme le bon vin, je vieilli bien (I'm like good wine, I age well)

Some decorative items have been provided with an explanatory text, such as an image of a rooster, which states Je suis le coq du village (I am the rooster of the village) or the explanation on a sign with a key, saying La clé du paradis (The key to paradise).

And, characteristic of the years 2020 and 2021, there is an inscription in which the healthcare staff of hospitals is thanked.

view of the site from the rear part
©Vincent Clémot

The image above completes our tour of Laurent Delion's art environment.

And, by the way, speaking of "complete", Delion has recently indicated that by now he considers his creation to be more or less complete.

* Article (October 2016) in French journal France Bleu (Ed. Sarthe)
* Article (October 2019) in French journal Ouest-France (nice photo, but most 
of the text only for subscribers)
* A series of photos (August 2020) on the website of photographer David Legoupil

Laurent Delion
Decorated house
along the D338
Saint-Jean-d'Assé, dept Sarthe, region Pays de la Loire, France
can be seen from the street
visitors welcome

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