a town hall
pictures courtesy of Annie Fortin
This miniature village is located outside St Michel-Mont-Mercure, a community of some 1700 inhabitants in the Vendée area in France. Its name refers to a 288 m high hill on the spot, the highest of the region.
Life and work
The mini village, a project begun 2006 and still under construction, is a creation of Gilles Rantière, born in 1948 and a mason probably during all of his life.
The mini village, still modest in size, currently includes a town hall, a school. a church, a mill, a wash-house (a lavoir in french), a barn and a little bridge. To construct these small structures Rantière would mainly use granite stones from nearby Haute Bocage, a hilly area with deep valleys interspersed with rocky ground and granite hills.
the church with the priest in front
The small constructions are finished in detail. For example, the inside of the church pictured above is equipped with benches and a priest at the altar. The school (second picture from above) has tables and a teachers desk.
And in the town hall (first picture from above) the mayor is present, as well as a bride and a groom, both dressed festively for their wedding day.
Rantière would place these characters before installing the roofs of the buildings.
Those who are familiar with the field of French art environments might think that the characters in the above photos in some way feel familiar.
And right they are. These small scale sculptures have been created by Vivi Fortin, who is already in this weblog.
a miller in front of a flour mill
Above picture shows this clearly. The miller carrying a bag of flour (= former french president Nicolas Sarkozy) is typically in Fortin’s style.
Rantiére and Fortin live close together in neighboring villages. Their continuous collaboration not only adds an extra charm to this art environment, but is also quite unique in the field of art environments, which in general mostly knows isolated working self-taught artists.
Rantière in front of the flour mill (february 2018)
Incidentally, the flour mill is also a recent creation, completed early 2018.
* Entry with pictures in Vivi Fortin’s weblog Sculpture du pas
* Article (june 2014) in regional newspaper Ouest-France
Lieu dit la Girauderie
St Michel-Mont-Mercure, Vendée, Pays de la Loire, France
visitors welcome in summer months