Herculean, Pharaonic and other Garden Superlatives


Tree ferns growing in the tropical greenhouse, Château du Champ de Bataille, Normandy, France.

Herculean, Pharaonic and other Garden Superlatives One of the Seven Wonders, for which the specific location has never been established, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are said to have contained a large variety of trees, shrubs and vines planted in tiers on raised terraces in an extraordinary feat of engineering. While visiting the Remarkable Gardens (see other garden studies with this label) of the Château du Champ de Bataille, I drew a parallel with these mythical gardens, beginning with the symbolic notion that they are said to embody: The Seven Degrees of Creation from the Mineral, Vegetal, and Animal to Humanity, Conscience, Light and Spirit, in that order. Jacques Garcia, renowned decorator, acquired the château in 1992. Working with landscape architect Patrick Pottier, they carried out the herculean task of conceiving and planting more than 240 acres of formal gardens consisting of groves, French parterres, boxwood topiary, basins, terraces, steps and fountains complimented by temples, theaters and sculptures. Hidden at the end of the garden is the “pièce de résistance” (flourish); a genuine 18th century Indian palace, reconstructed stone by stone, complete with an artificial lake: the Palace of Dreams. From the Material to the Immaterial, visitors pass from the … Read More

A Woodworker’s Dream

Architecture, Articles, Blog article

Benoit Lechevallier starting the Ruston & Hornsby motor of Saint Gabriel Flour Mill.  Restoration of the Saint-Gabriel Flour Mill, Saint-Gabriel-Brecy, France.

A Woodworker’s Dream | Visiting the Saint Gabriel Flour Mill Contemplating current trends in gluten-free bread, flour-less cakes and slow food, it was thought provoking to step back to post-war France and learn about technology and engineering during the industrial revolution.   This opportunity arose during a weekend visit to the town of Saint Gabriel de Brécy, Normandy. The Saint Gabriel Flour Mill, now inscribed into the Industrial Patrimony of the Calvados region, is a magnificent example of a once-working flour mill that is being carefully restored by its owners.  Closed permanently in 1975, the mill was purchased in 2012 by Isabelle Laïlle and Benoît Lechevallier (carpenter/cabinet maker).  Isabelle and Benoît have rallied local inhabitants, many of whose family members once worked at the mill, to revive the memory of this working environment and an association has been created for this purpose.  The diverse professions of this group have enabled the successful restoration to impeccable working condition of a hydraulic turbine engine fabricated by Ruston & Hornsby (UK), of which only two remain in the world, regulated by a Watt Ball Regulator. It is interesting to read in Flour Milling, A Theoretical and Practical Handbook of Flour Manufacture by Peter Kozmin … Read More

A Garden Party at Brécy Castle

Articles, Events coverage

Garden Party during Patrimony Day 2018 to commemorate Barbara Wirth at Brécy Castle Gardens, Saint Gabriel Brécy, France.

A Garden Party at Brécy Castle Patrimony Day in France happens once a year and enables curious visitors to see and experience treasures of French patrimony that are not typically open to the public.  This year, I had the pleasure of experiencing several special places dressed for the occasion under beautiful blue sky of mid-September all in one weekend.  The first and foremost is Brécy Castle Gardens, which I had already photographed in 2012 with a large format film camera. This year, a private invitation was launched to commemorate the fifth year of the passing of Barbara Wirth.  Gardener extraordinaire, she and her husband Didier orchestrated the restoration of the gardens of Brécy from their purchase of the château in 1992. We learn, in reading the marvelous and freshly published Florilegium of Brécy Garden by Béatrice Saalburg and Catherine Watters, that the key to the elegance of this garden is a striking harmony of “just enough” in Barbara’s selection of plants.  To complement graphically dominant yew, hornbeam and boxwood topiary, of which an intricate parterre de broderie on the ground level sets the stage for the terraces, Barbara added a savvy selection of roses, clematis, hellebore, lily and iris.  She … Read More

Sands of Time | Exhibition at Nordkraft Concept-Store in Paris


Sands of Time |  Exhibition at Nordkraft Concept-Store in Paris The exhibition Sands of Time at Nordkraft Concept-Store runs from 4 – 29 November, on the occasion of the Rencontres Photographiques du 10ème.  The selection of analog 8×10″ contact prints, as well as larger format 50×60 cm archival quality digital prints, can be purchased by contacting Elise Prudhomme directly. Nordkraft – 20 rue Lucien Sampaix – 75010 Paris

Sands of Time, a series of large format pinhole photographs

Exhibitions, Texts

Jardin d'Acclimatation and lodging house, Tatihou Island, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, France. 2014 (series Sands of Time) by Elise Prudhomme.

Sands of Time In recent photographic studies, I have been exploring the theme of the sentiment of nature. Raised in a family of architects and passionate gardeners, I am interested in an art of nature capable of encompassing both garden and landscape.  This new series of large format pinhole photographs, Sands of Time, excerpt from an ongoing project on the development of the cultural landscape and the emergence of a new picturesque in the Cotentin, includes work done on historic Tatihou Island*, where layers of symbolic material trace the constant evolution of man in his environment. * Tatihou Island, owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral, is managed by the Conseil Général de la Manche. Sables du temps Récemment, j’explore le thème du sentiment de la nature au travers d’études photographiques. D’une famille d’architectes et de jardiniers passionnés, j’étudie l’idée d’un art de la nature en mesure de rassembler à la fois le jardin et le paysage.  Extrait d’un projet en cours sur l’évolution du paysage culturel et l’émergence d’un nouveau pittoresque dans le Cotentin, j’expose aujourd’hui une série de sténopés, intitulée Sands of Time, qui inclue le travail réalisé lors d’un séjour sur l’Ile de Tatihou*, où les couches de … Read More