Unusual. A wood sculptor creates a giant nest for this town near Rouen

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Normandy Editorial

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May 19, 2024 at 11:24 a.m.

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The Longboël park, named after the forest which once covered the town of La Neuville-Chant-d’Oisel, near Rouen (Seine-Maritime) will soon be inaugurated. We can already see a giant nest, created by wood sculptor Laurent Soulet. At home, the artist is currently finishing the two birds which will complete his work.

An open-air Ali Baba’s cave

When you arrive at Laurent Soulet, near Duclair, you can’t go wrong. We see huge trunks, a Drakkar, a beetle, a giant spider, and other equally gigantic creations by the artist. At every turn, works are mixed with unusual collections like old gas pumps. A real Ali Baba’s cave in the open air.

Laurent Soulet thinks big. A journeyman carpenter, he always works with elegance and delicacy, as evidenced by his female sculptures, also on display. Currently, and for several years, he restored the castle of Ernemont-sur-Buchy. “At Neuville-Chant-d’Oisel, I restored the choir, the wall woodwork and the parquet floor of the church,” he says.

The yew wood nest is already installed in the park. (©The Bulletin)

An eco-responsible approach

Laurent Soulet exhibits more and more often. Recently he participated in the 96e International artists’ fair in Normandy, held at the Saint-Nicolas Church in Caen (Calvados). Laurent Soulet’s artistic journey is part of an eco-responsible approach.

I only use oak or fir trees, which come from local private properties. It could also be trees uprooted by Norman storms, or even wood intended for heating.

Laurent SouletWood carver

A gigantic nest for La Neuville-Chant-d’Oisel

“I create my sculptures in my spare time,” explains the artist. Some are exhibited at the Jardin des Plantes in Rouen. It was DÂB DÂB, well-known artists from La Neuville-Chant-d’Oisel, who got me started. My sources of inspiration mainly come from feminine sensuality and the observation of nature. The nest in Longboël Park was commissioned by the town hall. This is linked to the name Chant d’Oisel, which owes its name to the chirping of the numerous birds which populated the countryside. »

I imagined a nest like a water hen’s nest, with eggs and birds. The nest and eggs are already installed. The nest is made of yew, a rot-proof wood that does not need to be protected. The eggs are burnt oak.

Laurent Soulet
The sculptor works his birds with a chainsaw. (©The Bulletin)

And the two birds?

As for the two birds, they will also be made of oak. “I took some logs that I roughed up. Everything is done with a chainsaw. Then, I will sand them and burn them with a blowtorch,” explains the artist. This is a Japanese technique called Shou sugi ban : it consists of burning the wood to highlight the grain. “Finally, I will finish with linseed oil,” adds Laurent Soulet.

The birds are taking shape.
The birds are taking shape. (©The Bulletin)

To create his sculptures, from which a certain elegance emerges, the artist explains, with modesty, that he initially relies on a small sketch, “and it goes by itself”. On May 26, 2024, everyone will be able to discover their work during the inauguration of the Longboël Park where the nature festival will be held.

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