Les Lapidiales, the Magic of Stone

Macroramphosis

Jack of Spades and an unfeasibly large wheelbarrow
Joined
Oct 29, 2018
Messages
2,203
Location
Charente Maritime, western France
Real Name
Roddy
1 (24).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


In a post earlier this year I put up a couple of photos of some local sculptures here in south-west France, and I promised then that I would take you on a more detailed journey into their whereabouts and provenance. I’m done with the building work at home after our April move (yes, the guest cottage is finally finished) and I’ve had a couple of days off for the first time in weeks. And so yesterday I took daughter no.3 up to the Les Lapidiales for an autumn visit. I’ll start with some background to this most intriguing of artistic projects. The photos are typical of the route through the quarry, where one first goes down to the underground galleries and the return to the workshop area.

There is a forest glade about ten minutes from me by bike, where leafy oaks, ash and stands of hazel stand tall above indentations in the ground, all that remains of a limestone quarry from an antiquity long gone. Over twenty years ago, a French sculptor called Alain Tenenbaum had the idea of creating a living workspace in the old quarry, where both French and international sculptors could come each year to work and make art for travelling visitors. He found funds from interested partners and bought the land and set about creating his vision of a sculptor’s heaven. It’s an outdoor studio in the style of a cathedral mason’s stone-yard, where time is of no consequence and a passerby may stand, mouth agape, and pick up a mallet and chisel themselves, to see if any craftsman’s DNA lies dormant within them.

1 (5).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (8).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


At first the art was created on and inside the living rock, and currently there is a project to make 365 monumental sculptures out of sandstone blocks - a project that has yet to reach maturity. Invited sculptors arrive in the summer between May and September, and work ‘

’ in front of enchanted visitors.

1 (6).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)



1 (9).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (10).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Each season is a time for art, love, food, music and a delving into that special ambience that happens when many artistic people gather in one place.

1 (12).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (14).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Sculptors stay in the village, often in homes that have welcomed them for years. Each year new, bolder sculptors seem to appear, and the work grows exponentially better, or perhaps, more varied and fantastic.

1 (11).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (15).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Entry and parking to the spectacle is free, but a donation box is always rattling to the sound of coins.

1 (16).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (18).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (17).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Music nights, sculpture demonstrations and workshops also occur, and at weekends hundreds of people gather to pass the dark hours away amongst the stones and tree-trunks, mini folk-festivals where the artists reign supreme.

1 (20).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (21).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Les Lapidiales has grown in numbers and in importance over the years, and at last the Departmental powers in France have sided with this extraordinary fairground of stone, chisel, proud souls and a magical air of creativity.

1 (22).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (25).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


It is a fascinating place to visit if you are into form, line and soul. My photos do no justice to the works, and cannot replicate at all the magical air that surrounds the visitors as they arrive, cautiously inspect the first works, and then sink into the ground to arrive with heads spinning on the far side of their Bosch-like entry amongst sculptures that were created two decades ago.

1 (26).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (30).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


(cont'd)
 
Last edited:

Macroramphosis

Jack of Spades and an unfeasibly large wheelbarrow
Joined
Oct 29, 2018
Messages
2,203
Location
Charente Maritime, western France
Real Name
Roddy
erfrf.jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


I have visited Les Lapidiales many times, and I never cease to be amazed at not just the art on display, but my reaction to it. It’s an atmosphere best explained by the way in which unruly, noisy children spill out of parked cars and slowly subside into a state of awe, with mouths agape and eyes aglow.

ff).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


It affects adults the same way, I hasten to add. Celebrity gawkers need not visit; this is a place for souls who long for the world to be put to rights, who embrace family, kinship, and venerate the elderly, and who put the planet before much else.

eqrffr.jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


You don’t have to be a hippy to be part of it, but if you are a photographer you will see what I mean. There is little substitute for art that is created by hand, perhaps with just a handful of sand and a pointed stone to make details that cannot be measured in typefaces or pixels. To see the craftsmanship, and then be touched by the creativity of artists from so many countries, is food for the soul.

1 (32).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Each time I visit with a camera I feel like a cheap relative, a feeling only expunged when I reach out and touch the same moulded rock that others have touched, a following and sharing of the same shaping of figure or skull that the original artist first created.

1 (29).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (31).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


It’s a special feeling, matched perhaps by the insertion of one’s shoe into the indentation of a Roman footstep on a step, or perhaps the touch of a chiseled bowl on a rock surface that ancient peoples once drunk from.

1 (33).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


fqf.jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


The quarry is also a place where I always imagine the souls of Hieronymus Bosch and Salvador Dali visit each special night, when music from a dozen countries spills out over the galleries and rock faces and when all manifestations of art are open for discussion. If you choose to visit, come in the off-season and sit amongst the sculptures in the quiet hours. Let the forest grow green on your sleeve and touch you with the magic that exists here.

1 (27).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


1 (13).jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


My apologies that some of the photos have been shot at 2500 ISO for a reason only known to a fumbling fart deep in the darkness, I’ll have words with him later, my apologies. They do not affect the story, just the eye of a proper photographer who might wince……sigh)

3e2r.jpeg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Last edited:

Ghostbuggy

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 13, 2020
Messages
574
Location
Hoher Fläming, Germany
Real Name
Phill
Very impressive, thank you for sharing the story with us. While you said your photos aren't doing the place and the art justice, I beg to differ, even if it might be you feeling, I was mesmarized by the art many of them showed. The variety, creativity and quality seems to be impressive just from the images alone and it must be a teuly marvelous place in person.
 

Latest threads

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom