Land Art, Burgundy Style / by Jeannine Cook


That’s life for you, isn’t it!  All of a sudden, there is so much of fascination to blog about and share with the world, and at the same time, there is the quandary of what to do… blog or draw?  And there are only those twenty-four hours in the day, alas.
Nonetheless, I will burn the midnight oil a little to celebrate a wonderful event that I was privileged enough to share this weekend.  In a green and harmonious forest, deep in Burgundy, France, there is now a magically glowing Green Giant, a living forest sculpture created by Alain Bresson, a noted French artist.
Alain Bresson at the Forest Inauguration (image courtesy of Michelle Anderson Binczak)
Alain has been creating imaginative sculptures that celebrate the world around us for a long time, with work exhibited in notable venues in Paris, as well as Africa and other parts of Europe.  His land art is increasingly welcomed in exhibitions that draw attention to our environment, and in the case of the inauguration I attended, his imaginative empathy and understanding of the forest was clear.

Le Geant Vert 2, Alain Bresson, living sculpture
(image courtesy of Michelle Anderson Binczak)
The Green Giant came about almost by chance – as Alain laconically and self-deprecatingly recounted at the inauguration, deep in the lush forest surroundings, he was walking in the local community forest.  He suddenly saw the two strangely configured maples growing together and realized their possibilities.
He had already had troubles with his own village. The authorities there made him destroy a previous Green Giant sculpture, but happily, in the case of the adjacent community of Argentenay, near Tonnerre,  the Mayoress, Catherine Tronel, was more than receptive to having him create a living sculpture in the “forêt communale”.
So Alain covered the trees with yet more moss, which glowed luminously after all the rain we have had, and added delicious touches of scarlet to make the Giant gloriously jaunty.  Moss globes, also with flamenco-style flowers tucked in to add allure, were hung from other trees to add depth to the scene.  At the inauguration, as Alain explained, we could not yet see the total scene as he had planted different seeds in the moss and in the Giant’s foreground.  They will germinate and change the effect, and make the Giant an evolving sculpture that will continue living for years to come.  Much more fun than a sculpture that is created and then, that’s it, once it is placed in its official position…
As you parked by burnished pale gold grain fields and then walked into this cool forest, where birdsong is the only sound you normally hear, it was like entering a magical green world. 
Burgundy fields, Argentenay,
(image courtesy of Michelle Anderson Binczak)
Then suddenly this hugely tall green presence arrests and surprises, then delights.  There is power and whimsy, and ultimately, a deep respect for our oh-so-important forests.
Alain Bresson has travelled a long and successful route since he first went walking in the local countryside as a small boy on a school outing.  While all the rest of his class brought back bunches of poppies and daisies to the teacher, he brought back branches, sticks and nettles.  The teacher was horrified and reduced the eight-year –old to tears with his reproaches.  Now, I suspect, were that teacher to see The Green Giant, he would be of a different mind about Alain’s selections and skill.