L’interdit damoclèse by André Fournelle at the D’Arts et de rêves Park

By Liliane Lessard

From a museum to our Cultural Park

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The photos in this article were taken by Lise Ducharme, André Fournelle, and Liliane Lessard.

A story worth sharing..

Take a close look at the photos in this article; they illustrate the work that preceded the unveiling of L'interdit damoclèse, the monumental sculpture donated by André Fournelle to the D'Arts et de rêves cultural park.  But how did André Fournelle and this magnificent sculpture end up in our Park?  Let me tell you a story, one of friendship, talent, generosity, volunteer work, effort and pleasure...

Friendship and talent

André Fournelle and Lise Ducharme met in September 2018, during the Champ de Mauve exhibition organised by Muriel Faille*.  André had been invited by Muriel to participate in this collective of artists and Muriel had asked Lise to host a few exhibitors.

On the first day of the exhibition, while walking around the Champ de Mauve site, Lise, drawn to André's works, immediately "zoomed in" on his booth.  She introduced herself, they talked, discovered common interests, chemistry, went for a beer, or two, had lunch.  In short, let's just say that André spent more time that day chatting with Lise than at his booth... and that's just how this beautiful friendship began.

Even though André lived in Montreal and Lise in the Sutton region, they talked often, had fun, laughed, and enjoyed the fact that they were both curious, on the same wavelength...

A gift

Then André gave Lise a signed copy of a book that summarises his career and presents his work  (Publisher: DEL BUSSO; publication date: 04 January 2016; ISBN: 9782923792774).

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  • Fascinated by everything she discovers, Lise immediately thinks of the D'Arts et de rêves Park and asks André if he would donate one of his works to this cultural park.  Lise lives in the region and is familiar with D'Arts et de rêves, its history, the artists' residence, the park, and the trails that allow one to discover monumental works of art in an enchanting environment... André is tempted; he doesn't say no.
  • Lise then contacts Nicole Côté, founding president of D'Arts et de rêves, and asked her if she would like to welcome a work by André Fournelle in the cultural park.  A gift from André Fournelle, an artist she obviously knows by reputation, delighted Nicole, who immediately responds that she would be more than interested!

Spring 2019, Lise goes to Montreal and comes back with André.  They walk the trails of the D'Arts et de rêves Park and look for the location that could best host and showcase one of his works.  As they walk through the park, three works come to André's mind, but the choice has yet to be made, although André knows full well that he will indeed donate one of his works to this park.  As the days go by and the exchanges between André and Lise increase, the choice becomes clear: L'interdit damoclèse will be moved to Sutton.

Project

L’interdit damoclèse had always been exhibited in galleries or museums, sheltered from the elements, and therefore had never had to face the rigours of the climate.  So how could it be adapted to "live" outside, showcasing it while protecting it from the elements?

That's when the talents of Lise Ducharme, architect and artist, came into play.  Her concept: to create the impression that the three plates of L'interdit damoclèse float above pedestals.

Lise wants to integrate the work into its environment, to give it body, to enhance it―because the environment is vast―by raising the three elements, so that each one rests on a base made of crushed stones with low walls made of stones from the region.  A work in situ, in and with nature, the harmony between modern art and nature, a perfect example of Land Art.

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For this ensemble not be static, Lise proposes pavements so that one can walk around the three elements of the sculpture as one wishes and thus admire it from different angles.

Lise successfully sold her concept to André and it only took a few phone calls and two face-to-face meetings at André's workshop for the plans to be finalized.

A few challenges:

  • The terrain is uneven.
  • The finishing of the various components needs to be touched up since it must withstand the rigours of the Quebec climate, coats of paint and resistant sealant will be required.
  • The materials... will require significant sums of money (as of July 2021, no subsidy had yet been granted for this project, André Fournelle having agreed to bear the costs).

With the concept defined, the plans drawn, the challenges identified, it is time to make it happen.

Making it happen

Here are the main steps from the drawing board to the installation:

  1. Mark off the area.
  2. Install the infrastructure, i.e. the membrane and the gravel.
  3. Build the stone pedestals under the supervision of an expert.
  4. Complete the landscaping on the ground and around the three pedestals.
  5. Paint and protect the metal parts of the three elements to make them watertight.
  6. Install the three elements of L’interdit damoclèse.
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Micheline Bélanger thought she would paint for half a day and ended up working for three days.  Jean Laberge also collaborated in the painting effort, but unfortunately we don't have a picture of him.

Photo essay

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First, the site had to be marked out, then weeded and levelled...

10 pallets of stone from the region were ordered.

Ron Lauzon had the responsibility and necessary experience to operate the excavator.

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Nicole Côté and Lise Ducharme at work.

This was a large area to cover with geotextile.

The excavator was used a lot, amongst other things to transport the rocks.

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Stakes marked the location of the pedestals and pavements.

Volunteers worked hard to select, place, and arrange the stones on the pedestals and pavements.

We can see it taking shape, André Fournelle and Ron Lauzon contemplate the work accomplished.

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Martin-Hélène Laliberté, Mélodie Couture, and Pierre Auger work on the stones for the pavements.

Father and son, and working partners, Ron Lauzon and Darryn Grandbois both invested a great deal of their time in this project.

The pedestals increase in height a little each day.

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Lise Ducharme, a smiling and tireless site manager.

Onlookers mingle with volunteers to see the progress of the work.

The base of the third and final pedestal to be mounted.

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And the sides go up slowly and surely.

For each pedestal, several layers of geotextile are installed to hold everything in place and keep vegetation at bay.  Ron Lauzon verifies the installation.

The three pedestals are almost finished.

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Darryn Grandbois and Anick Cromp work around the base of the pedestal and Andres Velilla ensures the rock is spread evenly.

Maxime Tremblay and André Fournelle install the base of the first element of L'interdit damoclèse.

The site manager ensures that everything is in accordance with the plan.

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The work is progressing well.  The base of the second element has been installed on the pedestal.

Lise Ducharme "joins" the stones on the ground with 0-1/2 gravel. Rock dust and water are used.

Ron Lauzon levels the surface of the third pedestal.

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Darryn Grandbois checks that the Styrofoam panels fit tightly together.

Each Styrofoam was covered with geotextile.

André Fournelle and Gilles Lavoie move components of L'interdit damoclèse.

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Gilles Lavoie and André Fournelle clean the pieces before placing them on the geotextile; they are very very heavy.

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Once the artwork is in place, everything around it must be cleaned.  The unveiling will take place in less than 24 hours.

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Anick Cromp

Gilles Lavoie

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André Fournelle is happy.  All the steps planned by the architect and site manager have been completed within the prescribed time.

A well-deserved rest.

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A photo of people happy to be part of André Fournelle and Lise Ducharme's team.

From left to right: Anick Cromp, Darryn Grandbois, Micheline Bélanger, Lise Ducharme, André Fournelle, and Ron Lauzon.

Workforce

D'Arts et de rêves and Lise called upon volunteers, including several of Lise's friends, to transform the concept into reality.  André says that Lise had the “bad boss” role, that her task was not easy: she was the site manager, the coach, she pushed while encouraging and reassuring her people, she had to, and knew how, be rigorous so that the concept was respected.

The lunch breaks were very pleasant: we ate in the DAR residence, often eating the good food prepared by André, a fine chef in his spare time.

All those who gave their strength, their arms, their sweat, and their good humour said they were happy to contribute to the installation of L'interdit damoclèse in the D'Arts et de rêves Park.  Volunteers included:

  • Frédéric Arsenault, La Roche Posée: loan of machinery
  • Pierre Auger: installing stones on the ground
  • Micheline Bélanger : painting
  • Mélodie Martin-Couture: transporting gravel and installing stones on the ground
  • Anick Cromp: installing stones on the ground
  • Darryn Grandbois: mounting stone pedestals
  • Jean Laberge: painting
  • Hélène Laliberté: installing stones on the ground
  • Ron Lauzon: transporting stones and gravel, mounting stone pedestals, cleaning the site
  • Gilles Lavoie: transporting stones and sculpture components, cleaning
  • Liliane Lessard: installing geotextile, cleaning, photos
  • Zina Mecelis: installing boundary markers
  • Maxime Tremblay: assembling the steel parts of the sculpture
  • Andres Velilla: site preparation, i.e. cleaning the ground surface, levelling, and marking

Lise and André really worked hard during those twelve days (June 21 to July 2 2021).  They were role models, an inspiration to all those who dared to brave the heat of those long, hot June days.

To conclude...

At a meeting following the unveiling of L'interdit damoclèse on July 3, 2021 at the DAR Park, André and Lise recalled that even though this project was done in a hurry, it still brought together competent, generous people, hard-working volunteers, punctual and enthusiastic helpers who wanted and enjoyed being part of their team.

André summed up the experience by saying that he was happy to have been able to give new life to his work by integrating it into such a bucolic environment.  Lise said she was honoured that André accepted her concept and agreed to work with her.  André readily acknowledged and appreciated the talents, determination, effectiveness, and efficiency of his architect friend.  It was a big and beautiful project that quickly sealed their friendship.

You can admire L’interdit damoclèse seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset, at the D'Arts et de rêves Park, 57, North Principale Street. Sutton.


*Muriel Faille: Visual artist who participated in the 2018 interdisciplinary residency project at D'Arts et de rêves: Creation around a bubble -  La Fabrique culturelle


N.B.: La Voix de l'Est published an article on the reopening of Studios DAR Sutton and the unveiling of L'interdit damoclèse, a work by André Fournelle Un nouvel espace créatif au centre-ville de Sutton.