Le Jardin Secret [The Secret Garden]Henri Fabre-Colbert (1914-2010)
Conilhac-Corbières (near Lézignan) Aude, France
About the Artist/Site
Fabre-Colbert was a personage who was larger than life – colorful and loud. Man of all fights, he was a former soldier, former resistor, and active and strident supporter of the winegrowers fights during the 1970s through the militant Comités d’Action Viticole [Wine Action Committees], formed to protect small local winegrowers from the laws promulgated by the European Common Market and the influx of foreign wines into France. Without apology, he used his ironic pen to publish a biting weekly chronicle in the local and regional press. These chronicles were gathered together in 1993 in a book titled La Saint Con [The Holy Con/The Holy C*nt]. He also published La Foire aux Hommes [Men’s Fair], in which he described his course of resistance, as well as other texts that spoke to his beliefs as a confirmed supporter of the Languedoc region of his birth (the use of the Occitan language was sprinkled throughout these texts).
Returning to his native village, he purchased some property that could best be described as wasteland, where he constructed a home in several parts. His activities as a journalist-writer-protester left him a bit of time, which he used to plan a sculpture park. Self-taught, he quickly learned how to handle a chisel, and Siporex (a lightweight pre-formed cast concrete) became his preferred material. Easy to work, although rather fragile, it permitted him to quickly achieve his desired results. A cultivated man, he was passionate about history – particularly that of the Cathars, followers of a dissident church who had lived in this region of France during the Middle Ages – and, working from photographs, he reproduced works inspired by myths, the Middle Ages, and religion. Certainly he was quite religious, even if he was a bit defensive about it, and at the rear of his park he constructed a chapel ornamented with small sculptures, including at least two of Christ, one at the foot of a vine and another that now has come to ornament his tomb.
Henri Fabre-Colbert cultivated his sculptures as if in a “secret garden,” keeping them hidden within his enclosed property. Since his death, the house is generally closed, and unless his children are visiting, access to the garden and sculpture park is unavailable to the general public.
Translated by Jo Farb Hernández
Map & Site Information
Latitude/Longitude: 43.188334 / 2.718632
10, Rue des Écoles Douzens 11700, near Lézignan, Corbières (Aude
Peyriac de Mer (Aude)