Art: Stone sails

(June 2011) We refer to him as a sail-maker, even though his trade is sculpting in stone. After all, two of his more recent works carry the title „Voile“ („Sail“) which will be the centre of our focus. We are talking about sculptor Philippe André of France’s north-western cultural region of Brittany.

Not only the artist concedes that the title is not necessarily reflected in the works particularly not in the 8 m high and 20 t massive larger of the two. The artist writes that one might picture „the force and vigour of a wave or swell in the work“ convincing arguments for the commissioner, the Crédit Agricole with its headquarters in Saint-Brieuc-Ploufragan.

He found a raw block with suitable size and properties at Granitos de Maceira in Portugal. It took the French stone-masons’ team six months working the block into the proper shape to bring out the sculpture and lend movement to the lines as well as to incorporate surface details for light effects.

A highlight are the glass „crystals“ which André worked into the tip of the gargantuan sculpture: given the right angle, the sun’s rays turn the monument into veritable beacon.

The work stands on a concrete base whose surface is covered in stone slabs reminiscent of calm seas.

Precursor to the work was a piece conceived by the artist for the municipality of Saint-Symphorien-sous-Hédé in close proximity. It is a monument dedicated to world peace and measures a mere 4 m in height. The material implemented also was supplied by Granitos of Maceira.

Let us turn for a moment to the artist’s curriculum: he started his career as a body-maker for Renault and went on to learn stone masonry working in various quarries. In 1977 he took the leap and began working full-time as an artist.

His material of choice is granite. He also engages actively in adult education in stone.

Philippe André (French)

Granitos de Maceira

Photos: Philippe André