“Since 1984, Dominique Bailly has been using wood as her raw material, working it with a chainsaw, grinder and pumice, until she achieves a surface which is extremely fine and sensitive to the touch, until the threads forming the nervous system of the tree’s skin appear: joints of a branch, knots, rings which “mark” the passing of the years, lightning burns, splits, accidents. History, book of internal memory, natural atlas that you pore over to work out some kind of mysterious code, which you are invited to by a repertoire of deliberately simple forms. Spheres, hanging strips, truncated cones whose precise treatment places them where images which have journeyed from afar in space and time come together. In the same way as her work on wood “reveals” a pictoriality, a drawing embedded in the material, her landscape sculptures have a stripped down, bared appearance: reading a place, understanding the lines which govern its natural organisation and the laying out of elements, often of an imitative nature, which give it feeling. Here again we are going back to really ancient attitudes to nature, which seem to find a special echo in today’s sensitivities.” Dominique Blanc, extract from Paysages du dedans [Interior Landscapes].
Le chemin de Diane
Dominique Bailly’s works call on walkers to move about and get physically involved. They guide them through a gradual discovery of the landscape and include them as participants in the place, as they explore its rhythms and topography. This concept of a “sculpture walk”, which is the artist’s own, is to be found in the work presented at Chaumont-sur-Loire. Dominique Bailly’s work is born out of a meeting between history, art and nature and takes its inspiration from the symbols of Diane de Poitiers. As well as being a famous woman who left her mark on the history of the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, Diane is also the Goddess of the Moon and Hunting and her emblems can still be seen today on the historic building. Arcs of circles, evoking moon crescents and Diane’s bow, are the dominant shapes of the work imaginatively created by the artist. A winding wooden path leads to the River Loire, guiding visitors along their way. In the space, moon crescents, like a display of huge leaves, outline a viewpoint on the landscape.
Under the Stables Canopy, Dominique Bailly has placed five wooden spheres with diameters of between 80 and 120 cm. Three of the spheres are redwood, one is oak and one is cedar, three species of tree which are to be found in the Grounds of the Château. The volume of these works helps change our perception of the place, they give it another spatial dimension and, with their orange-coloured tone, they blend in with the bricks that constitute its architecture.
Dominique Bailly is a sculptor. She lives and works in Paris and the Touraine area. Since the middle of the seventies, her work has shown a contemplative relationship with the natural sites she has chosen as places to live (the Breton and Limousin forests, the Vendée coast, the banks of the Loire).
Her artistic approach, which is essentially based on the relationship with the landscape, follows two paths: making sculptures in the studio or direct intervention in the landscape.
In the studio, she gives priority to working intimately with the material and researching form. Her creative work is full of round oak sections, elliptical shapes in beech and redwood spheres one meter in diameter. For these works, she often turns to series production. This is the case for the volcanic bombs, Les Larmes de la Terre (The tears of the earth), for the spheres or strips, which she then organises for presentation in the form of installations. Some are simply laid on the ground, isolated or an integral part of precise alignment work; others are suspended and spread around, depending on the place where she is exhibiting them. The artist lays out her works in order to suggest a journey, while leaving onlookers entirely free to wander as they please. Drawing has always gone along with her research into form, in her sculpture work.
She intervenes directly in the natural environment, creating plant architectures, events and installations which sculpt the space.
In moving from the studio to working directly in the landscape, she follows the same principle, revealing a shape, a meaning and a hidden history. The work she does, which has elements of gardening and archaeological excavation, brings to light the most significant elements discovered during the survey of the place and tends to glorify its spirit. These works call on walkers to move around, to get physically involved, guide them through a gradual discovery of the landscape and include them as participants in the place, as they explore its rhythms and topography. It is the concept of a “sculpture walk” which the artist has created within the familiarity of megalithic alignments.
For works directly linked to an architectural project, she endeavours to create a dialectic between the work, the landscape and the architecture, taking into account the place and its environment in their historical, spatial and functional dimensions. In this context, the work is not “an object to be seen” but rather “a space to be lived in”, constructed on a specific site. The aim is to create spaces and structures which are not just formal, but which are capable of arousing a sensitive experience of the place, requiring time and space to reflect and wander.