April 26, 2024

Guy Souhard, Créations sur la haie, dans le jardin de devant et à l'intérieur / Creations on the hedge, in the front garden and indoors

all pictures courtesy of Sophie Lepetit 
from her weblog 

The decorated hedge pictured above could be seen in Saint-Berthevin, a municipality with around 7400 inhabitants, in the Mayenne department in France, bordering the large city of Laval on the west side.
This hedge was part of a larger art environment, created by the resident of the house behind the hedge, Guy Souhard (1932-2020).

Life and works

Guy Souhard. born in this area, after primary school became a carpenter, working in Laval. 

He retired in 1992 and a few years later, in 1997 when he was 65 years old, he started decorating the front garden of the house in Saint-Berthevin where he and his wife were now living. Their house was located on a corner where two streets intersected. 

As the images above show, it's a special feature of Souhard's creation that he provided the semi-circular cedar hedge around the house with bas-reliefs. This is a way of decoration that has not yet appeared in this weblog and also in France such a decoration occurs very rarely. 

Souhard initially performed the operations with a hand scissor, later he used an electric tool.

The front garden, which could be reached via a gate in the hedge, was decorated with colorful creations, many of which depict all kinds of personalities known in France. such as Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, but there are also international characters, such as Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.

There was also a meters-high giraffe, made entirely of aluminum. And the ostrich in the image below was made from 1,200 individual feathers, a creation that took 240 hours of work. 

There were two horses made of metal, dolls in trees and a monkey climbing on a deer.

the ostrich

The interior was also full of all kinds of things, mostly from flea markets or found somewhere by chance. 

All kinds of items were gathered together on shelves and on the furniture, such as dolls, toys, a collection of telephones and cameras, and so on......

In 2018, when the art environment had been a familiar phenomenon in the municipality for some twenty years, a representative of the city council reported that a complaint had been received about the hedge

The rules had been checked and Souhard was asked to reduce the height of the hedge to 1.60 meters as permitted in the regulations. Since that would mean that most of the greenery would be lost and mainly the wooden trunks would remain, Souhard decided with a heavy heart to remove the hedge.

Souhard himself was too old to do such a job, but his son and grandson offered a helping hand. The hedge was removed and (with the cooperation of the municipality) a white fence replaced it.

Rather shortly after all this, on November 28, 2020, Guy Souhard passed away, aged 88.

The decorations in the front garden have now been removed.

* Article (November 2012) in newspaper Ouest-France
* Article (April 2015) and an update (April 2018) on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit

Guy Souhard
Creations on the hedge, in the front garden and indoors
rue Madame de Sévigné, corner avenue du Maréchal Leclerc 
53940 Saint-Berthevin, dept. Mayenne,  region Pays de la Loire, France
the site doesn't exist anymore