Selva di sogno (Dreamwoods)Manfred Flucke (artist name Deva Manfredo)
Casole d'Elsa, Tuscany, 53031, Italy
The garden can be visited in summer from the end of March until early November on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 and 18.30 and on Tuesday and Friday afternoons between 14 -18.30. Located in an oak forest in the Italian region of Tuscany, some forty kilometers (24 miles) southeast of Sienna.
About the Artist/Site
Located in an oak forest in the Italian region of Tuscany, some forty kilometers (24 miles) southeast of Sienna, Dreamwoods is an art environment made almost exclusively from a large variety of multicolored stones. They may be loosely stacked into single freestanding objects, grouped together in piles, or arranged in mosaics on the ground.
Manfred Flucke, was born in 1949 in Duderstadt, a city in the southern German region of Lower Saxony. After completing his primary education, he went to Hamburg to study sociology and history, after which he wandered around for several years making paintings and drawings, until in 1977 he became attracted to spirituality and meditation.
He joined Osho's movement and, renaming himself Deva Manfredo, around 1980 he moved to Italy where he went to live in Osho Miasto, the largest Osho center in Italy, located in a beautiful area in Tuscany. He would reside there for some 25 years, working as a graphic designer, photographer and barkeeper.
Interviewed in 2016, Manfredo said that since childhood he had been fascinated by the beauty and form of stones, in particular those polished to perfection by the ebb and flow of the ocean waves. He is especially attracted by the immobility, the timelessness, and the eternity of this material.
Randomly arranging a couple of stones around 1980, Manfredo realized that by so doing he could make beautiful creations. Although he had never taken art classes, the idea to make a number of life-size stone works and install them in a natural environment took possession of him. So soon after Manfredo had settled in the Osho center, he began to consider setting up a space to install a collection of stone objects within an extensive oak forest nearby.
In 1981 he installed his first stone works in an unfenced part of the forest, placing his compositions loosely on the ground or upon each another. Manfredo gathered a large stock of stone in many colors, which he sorted into a large compartmentalized storage box. This also helped him make his multcolored planar compositions
From his passion for meditation it is obvious that among the creations in Dreamwoods one finds a number of mandalas, circular geometric patterns of Hindu origin that symbolically depict the cosmos. Some of these mandalas are of quite large scale and can best be viewed from a slightly higher vantage point. But there are also mosaics with less esoteric connotations, often located on the ground and organized in squares or rectangles.
The site also includes a large number of vertical structures made of stacked stones. Piling and balancing the stones into stacks, Manfredo uses no glue or cement: the stones are just held together by gravity. These vertical stone structures include a number of sculptures that stand alone. But Manfredo also has combined stacked piles in smaller or larger combinations of high and low rising elements, resulting in installations that can reach up to five meters (almost 13 feet), which resemble palaces, impressive cityscapes or other architectural structures.
Manfredo also constructed a number of anthropomorphic characters.One figure lies simply on the ground, while a group of two seated adults and five children leaning against a hill and another figure seated at a table with a variety of dishes (all made from stones, of course) are nearby. Numerous characters, depicted individually or in groups, all give the impression of a somewhat crowded area.
Although this art environment includes almost entirely stone work, in some of his recent artworks Manfredo also has worked with processed glass, plastic and marble.
Around 2006 Manfredo left the Miasto commune, although he has kept Manfredo as his artist name and continues to live in Tuscany.
At this writing, over 35 years after he began building, the site, on long-term rented land, features around 200 stone creations, some quite significant in scale. There is a gift shop at the entrance and paths run through the forest, but there still is no fence and the animals of the forest have free access. Visitors can follow a specified trail along the artworks in the forest. They are advised to make the walk in silence. The site is also well-suited for children, as one section of the site includes a playground with a stock of various stones that children can use to make their own creative arrangements.
The site in the forest is closed from November through the end of March and during these months Manfredo may make trips abroad, visiting family members and old friends in his hometown of Duderstadt or collecting stones from beaches or rivers all over Europe.
The garden can be visited in summer from the end of March until early November on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 and 18.30 and on Tuesday and Friday afternoons between 14 -18.30.
~Hank van Es
Map & Site Information
Casole d'Elsa, Tuscany, 53031 it
Latitude/Longitude: 43.3426233 / 11.0450266
Ponte dei Bini, Toscana