Allée des Arts in Le Barcarès

Having found myself in need of a break from the city, I escaped to the south of France last weekend. Le Barcarès is a peaceful, secluded town that sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the Pyrénées-Orientales region. While enjoying a long walk along the promenade by the seafront, I came across an avenue of contemporary sculptures spread out by the coast which I later found to be known as Allée des Arts, or Musée des Sables. The walkway, initially created in 1969, was designed with the intention of being an open-air sculpture museum host to 40 international artists. Since the erection of its first installation in 1970, the museum has developed to become the longest open-air museum of contemporary sculptures in the world, and has consequently been awarded the Heritage of the Twentieth Century Label by the French Ministry of Culture.

The collection is extremely diverse; each sculptor has their own style, technique and medium that they have used to create these impressive sculptures. Some are minimalistic, whereas others are extremely intricate. Each monumental piece makes use of different shapes, colour and textures whilst being individual and distinct from the surrounding backdrop of Mediterranean Sea and Pyrenees mountains. Taking advantage of this, I set out at sunrise with my camera one morning and was able to capture the interestingly shaped almost-silhouettes in the kindle of dawning light.

As I reached the end of the promenade, I found it marked by the old ship Le Lydia, with a group of large, dramatically vertical and bold wooden totem poles encircling an open space beside it. Also at this end of the museum are two of the most striking and complex sculptures by Albert Féraud. Féraud has bent, twisted and intertwined recycled scraps of metal to create the most beautiful and almost hypnotic sculptures. The rhythmic, futurist motion of the ceaseless metallic whirls will have you poring over every detail for a while, wondering where Féraud found his inspiration and how it has come to be. Although there were many interesting sculptures there, Féraud’s were my favourite by far!

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