Jean-Philippe Poirée-Ville, Writing with Plants

Architect? Landscape gardener? Botanist? Jean-Philippe Poirée-Ville is, first and foremost, an artist, poet, calligrapher and even a sociologist.
Poirée-Ville is participating again this year in the special Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival in this wonderful estate in the Loire valley.

My Story

"My grandfather was a farmer in Languedoc. I studied architecture at the École Spéciale d’Architecture (ESA) then landscaping at Versailles as I wanted to do town planning. It was Paul Virilio (who he met during his studies at the ESA) who led me to work with light. I then extensively studied a plant wall from the botanist Patrick Blanc in a cellar and observed the behaviour of this vertical forest in the light of the projectors. This study made me reflect on the instruction of our gaze faced with the stroboscopic light and the essential role of architecture as a mnemonic method. I created a work from my research in 2000 for the Les Mondes Lumière exhibition at the Fondation EDF: I projected virtual plants onto a cinema screen on which a plant wall was growing. The link with architecture was drawn during an encounter with primary school classes organised by the Ministry of Culture: these discussions confirmed to me that architecture was not only a shelter, but also a real language which was elaborated between plant signs and town planning codes. I therefore designed the first "plant writings". My approach took place over two stages: the appropriation of the territory then the creation of a new language via ornamentation. Plants now have a real socialisation role.”

Vent de liberté (Wind of Freedom) at the Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival

In 2001, Jean-Philippe Poirée-Ville participated in an exhibition in the Fontevraud Abbey at the time managed by Chantal Colleu-Dumond, the current director of the estate and festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire. In the gathering, he ran into the inventor of the festival, Jean-Paul Pigeat, and would, following that, take part, for the first time, in 2002, under the theme of Weeds. In Chaumont, Jean-Philippe Poirée-Ville met up with former students from the Versailles landscape school, artists and gardeners. "I like this team spirit and there is such creative freedom, it is very rare. There are no other places where you could do that!”

The festival selects its artists over several stages: the theme for the year is released in August; the applications must be submitted in October; a pre-selection is undertaken in December with an oral interview; the installation begins in March. The 2002 edition coincided with the first very poetic "Plant Writing" by Jean-Philippe Poirée-Ville or "Writing in the clouds". These moving creepers seem to bloom like wave cities therefore creating the ornamental language of a new urban planning.

This year, the 25th edition is dedicated to a theme from the future, the gardens of the next century. Le Jardin flottant du songe (The floating garden of fantasy) by Jean-Philippe Poirée-Ville presents drip-fed hanging plants: "This theme inspired me a lot. I wanted to work on our current energy dependency. Although our society is very weakened by this vital relationship, it is the same for my works, which are certainly exuberant, but precarious too: without supplies, my plants day in 3 days!"
Rich in architectural, light and botanical knowledge, Jean-Philippe Poirée-Ville once again provides us with a work rich in symbols regarding society and its perception of the territory, via an ornamental baroque language suffused with Art Nouveau.


**3 words to define your work: "Ornamentation, the city and the living."
3 words to define the festival: "The community, emulation and caravanserai."

The Region

The estate of Chaumont-sur-Loire dominates the Loire Valley, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its château was the property of Catherine of Médicis and Diane of Poitiers; it is one of the Châteaux of the Loire.

A smell? "Blanche's tarts in Chaumont"

A sound? "The birds from the park"

A taste? "The Chaumont ice creams, the range changes every year: nettle-basil...!"

A sight? "The fabulous starry sky from the lawn"

A touch? "The Chaumont cats: Felix has been the pet for 6 to 7 years!"

My Addresses

A place to sleep? "The La Maison du pêcheur guesthouse"
121, rue Maréchal De Lattre, 41150 Chaumont-sur-Loire
+33 2 54 20 92 57

A bistro? "La Détente Gourmande, better known under the name Chez Blanche (after the owner Blanche). Excellent tarts and her brother Pierrot is reviving Loire stone."
61, rue Maréchal De Lattre, 41150 Chaumont-sur-Loire
+33 2 54 33 94 65