In 1978, after studying at the Fayl-Billot school of basket-weaving, Erik Barray founded a studio devoted to creating wickerwork in public places. His land-art style creations are spectacular and in 1993, he was commissioned by Louis Vuitton to decorate its 150 stores. The delicate nature of this ancestral art enables this sculptor of reeds to create work that plays with landscapes. In August 2018, having spent time with Quichua Indians, the eco-designer subverted the traditional materials and techniques of Ecuador to create Nido de Luz for the Quito Festival of Lights. This was the inspiration for Lucioles and Lianes in 2019.
Erik Barray offers visitors a kilometre-long stroll along the left bank of the river starting at Pont Morand. Glow-in-the-dark insects flit along the plane-tree lined avenue. Swarms of bugs in the branches of the trees generate a warm orange light flickering like the delicate flame of hundreds of candles. Down on the banks of the river, beneath the Pont de Lattre de Tassigny, the tunnel has been colonised by dozens of strange illuminated creatures. As the visitors wander along, they come across delightful illuminated cocoons opening up to release a myriad of multicoloured butterflies. The stroll ends near Pont Churchill, culminating in a flight of sparkling fireflies against a backdrop of blue greenery, seeming to point the visitor in the direction of the Parc de la Tête d’Or.
This installation illuminated the Montée du Gourguillon in 2018. A year later, the plants have grown, taking over even more of the stone walls of this winding street. Once past Place de la Trinité, nature takes back what is rightfully hers, muscling her way into every nook and cranny in a tangle of creepers and transforming the street into a Lewis Carroll-type Wonderland. Ivy runs along the stone walls throwing light upon the time old stones. Delicate, illuminated flowers peak out from amongst the interwoven plants exuding an unreal atmosphere. This poetic nature trail is interrupted by an overhanging tree glittering in the night.
Erik Barray has designed a nature trail on Montée du Gourguillon sprinkled with five plant-themed stops. Once past Place de la Trinité, nature takes back what is rightfully hers, as trees and plants climb the high walls, transforming the venue into a Lewis Carroll-type fantasy world. Nature muscles her way into every crook and cranny in a tangle of creepers, while ivy runs along the stone walls like curtains of gleaming greenery. Delicate, illuminated flowers punctuate these natural arrangements that exude a surreal atmosphere. Turning and twisting, the plants play with the light as it reflects off the stones. At the top of the hill, on Rue des Farges, this immersive, poetic stroll is broken up by an overhanging tree decked with nests of magical lights.
Whatever happened? The inner courtyard of City Hall has been overrun by vegetation, like the sacred Inca sites or the temple of Angkor Wat. Nature has reclaimed the spot with wickerwork creepers pulsating with light staking their claim to the building. The walls and fountain are covered in glowing ivy and bindweed. All around flutter short-lived mayflies; they seem to fly as high as the dome of the Opera, but it’s just an illusion. Let yourself be captivated by this poetic installation in the courtyard of City Hall, exceptionally open to the public during the Festival of Lights
Plants take over the mineral world. Invaded by luminous creepers and giant weeds the grass platform becomes, as you watch, a field, an island or a garden. All around, clumps of lighted rushes invite contemplation. In sound and light, sap reproduces the cycle of the seasons and brings these urban plants to life, reminding you of the very essence of living things.
Visual and graphic artist: Richard le Guezennec
Lighting designer: Manu Théry
Technical support: Ets J.Corne et Cie, Jean-Luc Guichard, Les Pilons Post Production Sonore and Capsa Container.