La Vallee des Saints

I came across La Vallee des Saints near Quénéquillec in Brittany when looking for something to take my sister to see when she came to our house for the first time. Not that she’s particularly interested in statues or saints, it just sounded interesting and isn’t very far away.

Calling the location “The Valley of the Saints” seems odd to me, it certainly feels like more of a hill – at least you walk up to the statue park. When you get there, it’s pretty impressive. Large statues are scattered around, generally towering above the onlooker. Apparently they’re saints although I don’t know their history. They’re all made from local (Breton) granite of different colours. They’re all made on site using industrial machinery.

The finish they achieve is really interesting. I’ve never thought about sculpture in any great depth before (I’ve been to Rodin’s museum in Paris, and yes, I’ve seen the very public stuff that has been there for years in London and other cities. I’ve just never really thought about them, and how they’re constructed. Here though, you can see (from a safe distance) the creation of a monolith using angle grinders and pneumatic jackhammers, smoke pouring out from the stone. From rough and raw granite through to a polished, glass-like surface, the statues were very tactile. They weren’t purely visual.

The interaction with the landscape was also worthy of appreciation. Brittany is quite a rugged land, hilly but not truly mountainous as you might consider the Alps or Pyrenees. In many ways it reminds me of the Pennines or Cumbria. These statues are within this landscape, tall but not competing with it. Pathways have been forged through the tall moorland grass but without recourse to tarmac. It’s an “outdoors” space. It works for me.

In terms of taking some photographs of the place, the day was one of those with bits of rain and a totally flat white sky that is often a bit of a bummer in terms of photography (depends what you want of course). The weather introduced its own interactions (half dry, half wet statues for example), and it would be good to go back again when the weather is different to see how the space works then.

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La Vallee des Saints website - http://www.lavalleedessaints.com
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