First published: Winter 2011
No longer a mundane tool of everyday life, the letter boxes of Saint-Martin-d’Abbat, a small village on the banks of the Loire river in France, have become works of folk art in their own right.
Dubbed the ‘Letter Box Village’, it boasts some 250 personalised cheery receptacles. It was in 1997 that Michel Lafeuille and his wife, a couple of Parisian artists, thought of endowing it with a cultural identity.
There were already a few personalised letter boxes in the village and developing the idea came naturally to them. The Abbatiens, as the inhabitants are called, enthusiastically approved of the project, took out their saws, hammers and brushes and started beautifying their letter boxes.
The quirky custom caught like wildfire and in no time the village’s grey boxes were converted into bright works of folk art, with designs that range from the utterly conventional to the deliriously eccentric.
The villagers vie with each other to produce the most original designs. Two or three times a year, the boxes are smartened with a lick of fresh paint; often an old letter box is taken down to be restored or replaced.
Each year a competition takes place and the most outstanding letter boxes are rewarded with prizes. The themes and designs are usually related to the villagers’ name, occupation, hobby, or to the place where they live.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #74