April 26, 2011

Cyril Roussel, Le jardin aux jouets/The toy garden



Gravelines, from old a fortified city and fishing town in the far north of France, near Dunkirk. Offshore, in 1588, the decisive battle of the english against the spanish Armada was fought. Currently, the city has a charming old towncentre, a major seaport, extensive industrial areas and a large nuclear plant.

The toy garden

And it had an outsider environment: the Jardin aux jouets, the toy garden, located in an open area, somewhat outside the community, along a departmental road.

The author of this environment, Cyril Roussel (b.1938), lived there, together with his son, in a mobile home


I could not trace many biographical details. As far as I understand Roussel was born in Gravelines, had a job in a slaughterhouse, maybe was a truck-driver and he came to live in the 1990's on the plot of land where the toy garden was located. 

Without any preconceived concept, the collection of toys gradually grew into a lively exposition of all kinds of puppets, statues, toys and objets trouvés, some of them painted in bright colors or dressed up in fanciful clothes.

Once the people of Gravelines had learned about the site, they would come along and bring articles from their households they wanted to get rid of and Cyril Roussel, not inclined to refuse gifts, added all of these items to his collection.

view from the street
click on picture to enlarge

Many people liked to visit this very special garden.

However, as reported in august 2014 by a reader of this post, the Jardin aux jouets no longer exists (see comments). Up to now I couldn't discover why this happened. I suppose some people looked upon this garden as a pile of garbage and actually realized its closure

Documentation/more pictures
* post (in english) of Melanie Menard in her weblog Inner Worlds/Outer Space (30-1-2011)
* post (in french) of Jean-Michel Chesné in his weblog (27-10-2010)




Cyril Roussel
Jardin aux jouets
Rue du Pont de Pierre 
Gravelines, dep Nord, France
no longer extant

4 comments:

  1. Oh how I love your posts.....I am a New Yorker in USA and you are my travelogue of choice.

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  2. @ Ms.
    Thanks a lot for this friendly comment. I myself do like very much travelling along these sites, if not in reality, then along the
    digital highway. All the best.

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  3. Sadly the site has been broken down, only a few small things are left. I was there 2 days ago. Ferry Rigault, Leiden (NL)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the info, Ferry. I will have to re-edit this post.

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