My life here took a break when, in April, we went on a brief visit to the Aveyron, a very hilly French department about 400 kilometres to the south-east of here. Distances there are measured by time, not kilometres, as the narrow and twisty roads clinging to valley sides are best navigated slowly!! Our car's satnav (GPS) route to one of the many beautiful villages in the region led us through Les Costes-Gozon, a fairly remote and isolated hill-top village. A series of arresting metal sculptures at the roadside gave us good reason to stop and look. They proved to be the work of renowned French sculptor André Debru, whose workshop there is surrounded by dozens of his metal artworks. Sadly for us the workshop was closed at the time, for health reasons, we understood from the chalked notice at the front door. We hope he will soon be back at work.
André's father and grandfather were farriers, and from a very young age he learnt the blacksmith's trade. When only 11, he started making sculptures of his comic book heroes. He then started collecting bits of iron and steel, some very small and intricate, ranging from screws, nuts and bolts to sheet metal and wire coils. He has produced some most amazing work over the years, all life size, some of which you can see in my photos below.
The little tramp - Charlie Chaplin
A giraffe with Popeye.
A very large elephant, note the stork perched on its trunk. A reminder that Hannibal passed through here on his way to the Alps.
Outside the Mairie in the village is this stunning proportioned sculpture of a knight on horseback.
In 1889, the centenary of the French Revolution was celebrated with the erection of a replica of the Statue of Liberty in the main square of the local town of Saint Affrique (Nice name!). That bronze original was removed and melted down in 1941 to help the war effort, but only in 2005 was Andre Debru commissioned to make this replacement in iron.
The farrier :-)))
Rhinoceros also with a small bird on its back, possibly intended to be an oxpecker. Astonishing anatomy, all in stainless steel!
Having a laugh! A joke speed camera. Doucement can imply slowly, but cabourd isn't in my dictionary- it may be a dialect word, but this is great use for an old washer! "Clous" are nails.
A dancing bear, with Tintin and his dog Snowy in the background.
Camel, a long way from water!
Cow, not forgetting the cow bell, and a view of the spectacular but hazy Aveyron countryside in the background.
My favourite is this family of three horses. So brilliantly made!
Thanks once again to Nigel for his research.