Paris 9 May 2010

We arrived in Paris and were met by Gabe and ned - then later we all had dinner at Ned and Suze's place



Ned and Tess on the balcony of one of the flats we stayed in  

I met up with the people from jardins de Babylone who do vertical gardens and have worked with Patrick Blanc - they were just setting up their offices so it was all new - but we exchanged ideas for an hour or so – there are some images attached - they had a huge installation of Till Usneoides ( a Bromeliad)  in the centre of the floor not sure how it will go seemed to be permanently drenched in dripping water with no time to dry and no sun just indoor light which is the opposite to what the plant likes? But the clump was huge and impressive - The mayor has given permission for them to do a large wall next to their office. They were very taken with my work and said no one here is doing work like it- they were totally blown away with the concept of the airplane work.


Also visited the largest Patrick Blanc vertical wall  to date - 40,000 plants but it needed a bit of maintenance with many plants dead - maybe it was the winter and they replant in spring summer - seems the maintenance is quite high to keep the walls alive- (unlike the plants I work which need very little maintenance and minimal infrastructure).  So I can see the imagined problems with plant works like this that some architects have. I gained quite an insight into how they are doing it and that while my work offers less diversity of plant structure and texture my approach has very few maintenance issues which is a great advantage.The critical debate over Patrick Blanc's wall is growing here  - with many questing the use of chemical based water feeds to drive the work.


Ned decided to take Tess and I - 2 vegetarians - to the Hunting Museum Musee de la Chasse
Looks like Neds in for the kill
From Anne's flat that we stayed in for a few days - the place over looked a community garden - they also had a roof top garden on a long walk way.

Friends in Crest
Out to the Chateau de Blacons to meet up with Cédric, Beatrice and Celeste


Vertical wall garden out side Lyon



In Lyon there is was an exhibition of Luc Schuiten, an artist architect – Cites Vegetales at  - La Sucriere – Lots of drawings and movies of an imagined ecco-village covered in plants, and more vertical gardens, but no actuation just a fantastic imagination.  There is a real sense that plants in up and on cites are in the contemporary French psyche. 

Citès Vègètales Exposition de Luc Schuiten


27 April 27 June 2010

La Sucrière Lyon, France


Michel Francois

a Plans d' èvasion

Institut d'Art Contemporain Villeurbanne/Rhône - Alpes, France


19 May 2010

Musee Lumiere, Lyon

Musee des Beaux-arts de Lyon - Bram et Geer Van Velde


Tess In Lyon  

Back to Paris

Ned and Tess raid the garbage skip a


well old Paris town was swinging with plants the other day  as part of Nature Capitale they closed the Champ Elysees for 1km and filled it with plants  - a huge green initiative where people could buy the trees etc- thousands of people -we saw them setting up the day before 100s of truck full of plants – trees, vegetables, even pineapples  and bananas

As an artist working with plants, one of my goals on a recent trip to Paris was to see first hand the vertical gardens of Patrick Blanc.  Confronted by his largest garden on the rue d’Alsace, a narrow Parisian street that runs alongside the Gare de l’Est, I was surprised by the impact of an immense vertical green wall, like a huge ocean wave it towered above me surrounded by an unsympathetic environment. Blanc remembered thinking that it was “the worst-looking site and a place where nature would never want to come.”  But despite the difficulties he succeeded in producing a wall about 65 feet high and 220 feet long, that runs the length of one side of the complex.
However, a few days latter, it was an even bigger surprise to cross the Champs Elysees from the Grand Palais where we had visited an exhibition on the TAO and discover rows of semitrailers loaded with plants that were about to be installed for 1km on the busiest road in Paris. Paris was about to engage in a grand experiment with Nature Capitale where the hard tarseal of the Champs Elysees would become a huge garden from May 22 to May 24.
On the evening of May 22, International Biodiversity Day, Nature Capitale turned the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe to the Rond Point into a green oasis where carbon absorbing plants replaced roaring carbon emitting engines for a night and 2 days.

Gad Weil, creator and director of street art, who 20 years ago turned the Champs-Elysées into a huge field of corn, conceived “Nature Capitale as a new green monumental and festive work. Working with landscape artist Laurence Medioni, Weil had the avenue closed to traffic and the 3-hectare space filled with plots of more than 150 varieties of plants, a testimony to biodiversity in France, to produce a living green mosaic the public could stroll through, stop and admire nature. The Jeunes Agriculteurs (Young Farmers) union, representing 55,000 farmers under the age of 35, installed mini-fields the size of six soccer pitches along a km stretch of the avenue to showcase farm production from lavender to livestock. This ephemeral botanical work allowed agricultural and forestry professionals involved in the installation to not only put the spotlight on “Nature fashioned by Man” but also on the fragile balance between human beings and their environment.
The two-day event, timed to coincide with a holiday weekend, attracted about 2 million people. The team who transformed the Champs-Elysees in Paris into a strip of farmland at the weekend to heighten awareness of the agriculture sector plan to take the concept overseas, the project's designer said. "We want to take "Nature Capitale" to New York (to work with) the farmers and woodmen of New York state, to Istanbul with their farmers, Berlin and other cities who want to welcome us," Gad Weil, who created the concept, told France Info radio. ( I wonder if it will happen in Melbourne)
Deciding to arrive at the Nature Capitale installation on dusk, we (Tess, Ned, Gabe and Lloyd) emerged from the dark depths of the metro to an enchanting landscape. Despite the seductive scene of the immense Arc de Triomphe gold lit against the ambient Parisian twilight, the compelling swath of luxurious green of Nature Capitale turned us around 180 degrees and drew us in for a walk through the transitory forest. It was an enthralling sea of people and plants.

The audience was obviously as enchanted as we were. The plants had been grown in boxes about 3m square and placed with narrow walk-ways between them to allow people to walk freely across and up and down the strip. The diversity was huge; crop plants included wheat, carrots, lettuce, pumpkins, zucchini, tobacco, bananas, pineapples etc. Trees of every description lined the edges.
At the end of our walk were countless stalls by farmers from various areas offering samples of their produce. By the time we traversed the site to this point, it was near closing and the Jeunes Agriculteurs were in full party mode, drinking wine, beer, dancing singing, laughing etc. Conversing with some this was their first tip to Paris and they felt they had succeeded in touching the Parisian hearts with a little bit of natural soul from the French country side. It was a means for them to reach out to the Capitale.

Farmers angered by a sharp fall in revenues have used Paris to stage protests, including a tractor-led demonstration and a protest in front of the presidential palace in December. The weekend event was reminiscent of a display 20 years ago in which farmers on combine harvesters cut a field of grain on the Champs-Elysees. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla made a surprise visit to the event on Monday, partly to ease tensions with the farming community. Such a visit "is always fun, but what's needed is that he listens to us and our demands," said one farmer. "The first message was to gather people around road art for something that concerns all the French ... the link man has with nature and to make a huge crowd smile with no incidents despite such a difficult time in the world," Weil said.
French farmers have urged the European Union to maintain a strong regulatory framework for farming as the bloc debates the future of its Common Agricultural Policy, under which France receives the most subsidies out of the 27 EU countries.



Friends at Friends meeting Paris

Monday 24 May, Silvi a friend of Tess’s who is editor of French Cosmo  took us to  the gallery at Halle Saint Pierre – 2 Rue Ronsard - it's a great gallery and bookshop  its located to at the bottom of the street looking up to Sacre Coeur go to the far right side – not many people know of it  - they had an interesting show Art Brut Japonaia

Before this we had lunch