March 08, 2024

Abbé Clovis Vannobel and anonymous workmen, Décoration du pavillon des Iris / Iris pavilion decoration

this image and the next two as on the website
Habitants-Paysagistes, published here in agreement with the
photographer Francis David

The facade decorated with a tree as shown above can be seen in a street in the municipality of Steenwerck, a little town with some 3400 inhabitants, located in North West France, near the border with Belgium. 

In the field of art environments the town is known for Arthur Vanabelle's La ferme aux avions (The airplane farm), a site located in the outskirts of the municipality until around 2015. The local Musée de la vie rurale (Museum of rural life) was donated a representative number of creations after Vanabelle's death.

The building with the decorated wall was built on the site of a hotel that was destroyed during the First World War. Subsequently, two breweries were built on the site, which went bankrupt during the Second World War. A director of one of the breweries had a country house there.

After the war, the complex was purchased by a social organization led by Abbot Clovis Vannobel, in order to establish there a rest home for women, initially only in the director's house, then also in one of the breweries after it had been renovated.

the abbot is depicted among the branches

The part of the rest home in the director's house was named Les Iris, referring to the numerous flowers of this species that bloomed in the nearby park-like grounds.

Restoring the facade

In the early 1970s, the facade of the Pavilion Les Iris was restored. Then it was given its characteristic decoration with a tree, an idea by Abbot Vannobel who saw the shape in his imagination.

Two workers, who did maintenance work for the rest home, helped realize the idea. The wall was treated with linseed oil and zinc white was used to make the wall nice and smooth. After the preparatory work, a sketch of the tree was drawn on the wall and colored in a dark shade against a light blue speckled background.

It turned out to be a successful project that is still present today.

After the rest home closed in 1976 due to financial problems, the municipality of Steenwerck became owner of the buildings. Some were converted into apartments and other accommodations. 

The Pavillon des Iris was completely restored and refurbished. Since 2010 it houses the regional tourist office.

Abbé Clovis Vannobel and anonymous workmen
Iris pavilion decoration
3 Grande Rue
Steenwerck, dept Nord, region Hauts-de-France, France
can be seen from the street

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