Rothéneuf, a village near St Malo in Brittany, France, is among those enigmatic coastal spots where the well-polished boulders have given way to a transfixed colony of people and animals.
From 1894 to 1910, abbé Fouré, a local priest who became partly paralysed and deaf at the age of 30, sculpted the rocks into a semi chaos reminiscent of Easter Island silhouettes, fallen gargoyles and bas-relief. Mostly inspired by the news, he portrayed real people, some of whom are famous. (Jacques Cartier, who was born at Rothéneuf, is thought to be represented twice on the site.) A few animals and strange creatures also appear in places.
The monumental and extravagant display evokes a creative delirium, mixing the fun and fantastic of the setting and odd creatures with an element of meditation with the motionless characters forever contemplating the sea.
Over a century later, the ebb and flow of 40,000 pairs of feet a year have added to the erosion of this once colourful crowd to the point of endangering the art work’s existence. The association Les Amis de l’œuvre de l’abbé Fouré was founded in 2010 to campaign for the preservation of the site.
(The 8th June is World Oceans’ Day.)