Bernard Calet

Tapis, 2003

This commission was associated with the creation of the new headquarters of the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service (SDIS) of the Orne, located in Alençon. Established on a parcel of eight hectares/20 acres, this headquarters includes the Direction Départementale, the Ecole Départementale, and the Centre de Traitment de l’Alerte. For the esplanade in this busy site, it was Bernard Calet’s intention to create a space that was at once symbolic and functional. Forming an entrance for the building, this space would also accommodate annual ceremonies, and define the identity of the place, through the reference to water, in particular, a basic element in the exercise of the fireman’s profession.

The artist decided to create a huge “mat”, a gigantic version of the sort which welcomes visitors to any home. Its principle features are two pools dovetailed one into the other, access to which is by way of a flag-stoned floor and a wooden footbridge, or a stairway with contour-like curves. The first pool, which is square, is open to the sky and functions like a mirror; by overflowing, it feeds the second pool which surrounds it covered with duckboards in which are embedded containers with plants and small translucent architectural forms. By creating stylized and repetitive motifs, these elements call to mind the decoration of the edges of a carpet. The whole re-creates the essence of a landscape, made up of water, earth, architectures and green spaces. The movement of the water and the light thus injects an energy which galvanizes the abstract and organized composition of this carpet-work, which is as much a garden as it is sculpture, painting and architecture.

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