Un Jardin à Saint-François

Last week we were sitting in the shade in Place Saint-François in Lausanne, whiling away half an hour before going off to catch a train. We were intrigued to observe a notice attached to the church door. It said, ‘Un Jardin à Saint-François’.

IMG_1637Place Saint-François is a paved area, a busy pedestrian precinct adjacent to a noisy road in the heart of Lausanne. There was plenty of city noise and activity but no sign of a garden. We went over to look inside the 13th century church.

IMG_1626 It was much quieter inside though you could still hear the traffic. At first glance the nave, indeed most of the church, seemed empty.

IMG_1629However when we looked more closely at the empty space we could see hundreds of dried leaves seemingly floating about an inch or so off the floor. It was quiet and calm but also rather weird.

IMG_1627Further inspection revealed that each sun dried evergreen magnolia leaf was attached by very thin copper wire to a wooden structure a bit like a wheel, that hung just below the ceiling, turning slowly.

IMG_1628The leaves, arranged in a spiral pattern, moved so gently that we only spotted it when we stopped and watched.

Chairs had been placed around the installation so we could sit and look and listen. When we were very still we could hear little sounds like rustling leaves or a small water source, a spring or stream, or maybe a tiny animal in the undergrowth. The feeling was of a garden at dusk. We no longer noticed the noise of the traffic in the city outside. It was easy to sit quietly and listen for minutes on end.

So, yes, un jardin à St-François. Enough of the elements to suggest a garden and to produce the contemplative mood that you might find in a garden. It was quite magical.

The installation will be there until September 28th 2014 and runs alongside a garden festival in Lausanne which seems not unlike the Chelsea Fringe. The artist is Rudy Deceliere www.rudydeceliere.net

And the sound? That comes from an electric current that passes down the copper wire. There are magnets on the floor and the resulting electromagnetic disturbance causes the leaves to vibrate, like the membrane in a loudspeaker, making a very quiet rustling noise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *