November 24, 2023

Robert Lemaire, Jardin avec constructions cinétiques et autres décorations / Garden with kinetic constructions and other decorations

all photos (by Hubert Bouvet) published here in agreement with
the Inventaire Générale région Hauts de France

On the front of a house along the Rue Nationale in the commune of Sains-en-Gobelle in Northern France, about 40 km south-west of Lille, decorations can still be seen that refer to the years 1980/1999, when particularly in the backyard a special art environment was created,

The surrounding images show the striking feature of this site, namely a number of kinetic constructions in the shape of multi-colored windmills.

Life and works

This art environment was created by Robert Lemaire (1924-2010), who was born in Hersin-Coupigny, near Sains-en-Gohelle, in a family with parents and a brother who were familiar with technology. His mother owned a hardware store, his father was a farrier and his older brother was a plumber.

So it is understandable that young Robert also went in a technical direction. At around 20 years old, he entered the training center of a mining company in Noeux-les-Mines. also near Sains-en-Gohelle, where he received technical training, such as how to work with a lathe.

Lemaire got a job at the mining company as a fitter, in which he worked for many years. He liked to that job because of its precise and meticulous nature, but also a bit because of the noise that came with it. 

When the mining company was closed in the context of the general cessation of coal mining in Northern France, he went to work as a metal worker at a fertilizer factory, where he was granted early retirement in 1979.

Creating colorful windmills

Now 55 years old, Lemaire wasn't the type to take it easy. He started using his skills in working with metal to decorate his living environment with beautiful kinetic constructions in the form of colorful windmills. 

He had bought the house in 1954 and renovated it to live there with his wife from around 1955, but he had not yet paid any attention to the garden. So decorating the garden became his project for the 1980s/1990s.

Using all kinds of everyday items, such as bicycle wheels, iron bowls, rubber balls cut in half, plastic bottles, and the like, he made an ensemble of artistic windmills. all with their own design and with component parts welded together where necessary.

All creations were vividly painted with bright colors.

Other decorations

To the kinetic constructions that give the site its special character, Lemaire also added all kinds of decorations, such as animal figures standing in the garden, some of which were not made himself but purchased.

The above red-colored ladybug with many white dots, is one of the first stand alone creations of an animal that Lemaire made.

Elsewhere in the garden are welded metal roosters, one formed from iron chains, the other from metal discs.

Using other metal items, like hubcaps from cars as shown in the image above, Lemaire also made decorations. This image was added to a wall of a shed at the edge of the garden.

The person with a hat is Subito, a cartoon character known in France, created in 1936 by the cartoonist Robert Velter (known as Bozz).

In the image above there is a small figure in the upper right that appears to reside in higher realms, (birds, space vehicles} and sends a lightning bolt to a structure of yellow and green stripes below.

Current situation

Robert Lemaire passed away on October 7, 2010

Today, (2023) a daughter of Lemaire lives in the house along the Route Nationale. She makes every effort to maintain parts of the art environment, but it is not always possible to prevent parts of the site from deteriorating.

* Article on the website of the Inventaire Générale région Hauts de France (I would like to acknowledge that the above post is based largely on the information available in this article)

Robert Lemaire
Garden with kinetic constructions and other decorations
8 route National
Sains-en-Gohelle, dept Pas-de-Calais, region Hauts-de-France, France
part of the decorations can be seen from the street

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