June 09, 2023

Albert Flament, Maison et cour décorées / Decorated house and yard

photos by Hubert Bouvet, published here with permission
of the Inventaire général du patrimoine des Hauts-de-France

Liévin is a town of about 31,000 inhabitants, located in the French department Pas-de-Calais. The town and its surroundings used to be part of the northern French mining area, a past which is once again emphasized by the above image of a stylized man (or boy) who transports a load of coal.

Life and works

The character with the coal cart in the very first photo above is a creation of Alfred Flament, born January 24, 1947 as the son of a miner who died of silicosis, a disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust particles in the mines. 

After primary school, in 1962 as a 15-year-old boy, Flament went to work underground in a mine, responsible for all kinds of supporting work such as sorting coal and providing lighting with lamps. So the man with the coal cart in the very first photo might be a representation of Flament's memory of the work in the mines he did in his younger years.

A few years later, in 1965, Flament was injured in an accident, in which he also lost five toes. 

Recovered from that, he got an internal training as a boilermaker and welder. Then he could work for the mining company for many years above ground. In December 1990 the mines in the Nord Pas de Calais region were closed.

In 1970 Flament settled in Liévin and in 1975 he started a project aimed at decorating the exterior walls of his house, the fencing and the yard with a variety of self-made items. He was now married and his wife took care of decorative arrangements of flowers that would be part of the decorations.

Through his internal training Flament had developed technical skills, which were important in the manufacture of the decorative items. Become familiar with working with metals and welding, he made a lot of creations from iron wire and sheet iron. 

The images above give an impression of this, with on the left a voluminous assembly of curved iron wire filled with arrangements of flowers and on the right a plate-carved depiction of a leaping deer, amid an arrangement of yellow painted iron wire.

The creations of iron wire and sheet iron, which he made in his own forge at the back of the yard, can be seen in many places in this art environment, such as the jumping deer on an outside wall in the image above and the fencing of airy rotating iron wire.

The letterbox was also decorated and in memory of his work at the mining company, wrought iron profiles of miners were attached to the walls.

The white-painted facade of the house, located along the street, is decorated with geometric patterns on both sides of the window on the ground floor. Google Streetview shows that in earlier years the window on the first floor was also decorated with similar decorations, even more lavishly. Why this change was necessary is not known.

The metal decorations in this art environment have a fresh look, which must be because Flament and his wife repaint the decorations every year.


* Article by Sonia Terhzaz on her website Cartographie des Rocamberlus with a report of a visit she paid to the site on February 2020
* Review of the site on the website Inventaire général du patrimoine des Hauts-de-France

Alfred Flament
Decorated house and yard
13 rue Jean-Baptiste-Greuze
Liévin,  dept. Pas de Calais, region Hauts-de-France, France
can be seen from the street
Google Streetview (April 2022)

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