Category Archives: Elisabeth Ballet en

Élisabeth Ballet, Pilat Regional Nature Park

Situated in the Pilat Regional Nature Park near Saint-Etienne, the town of Bourg-Argental has retained the imprint of a textile activity developed there since the 16th century. Everything needed for textile production was in evidence – milling, warping, weaving, braiding, ribbon making; buildings linked to the industry made a strong mark on the landscape.

The project, initiated by the town of Bourg-Argental, is part of the Industrial Landscape programme unfolding in the four regional nature parks of Pilat, Monts-d’Ardèche, Lorraine and Vercors. Residents and elected officials wished to highlight the industrial past and make the conscious and unconscious traces of the textile industry legible. It is a question of addressing spaces created by the destruction of certain buildings in line with architecture still in existence.

Élisabeth Ballet initially conducted a meticulous investigation to collect data on weaving and ribbon making, but also to reread, spatially, Bourg-Argental’s industrial history. The places she identified could not be used (either inaccessible or decreed flooded, by the state), so in 2013, the commune invited her to invest in a central space that was the former site of the Jarrosson textile factory.

Élisabeth Ballet’s work takes shape in this space and goes beyond, including a trail that retraces the town’s textile activity, as well as a book.

  1. Jarrosson Square: finding a purpose.

The first thing to do is to clear the original factory space by removing everything that obstructs the square, and reveal the original gate and surrounding wall at the bottom of the garden. “Then the square will turn into a pedestrian agora, the garden part raised like a stage, opens onto the town and is visible to everyone.”

On the ground, granite paving will depict weaving in motion across its entire length, then continue past the route nationale, to suggest that weaving gave work to the whole town with some fifty factories and studios dedicated to textile.

  1. The trail through the town.

With the help of Mr. Michel Linossier, former weaving combs manufacturer, Élisabeth Ballet located a large section of the missing workshops street by street, and drew a map to guide the visitor on his/ her journey through the town. An enamelled sign serves as a landmark at each site.

  1. The Book

Because a physical artwork cannot reveal the work of research, Élisabeth Ballet wanted to produce a book to restore the profile of weaving spaces. “It will be divided into one part for drawing, another for the archives and interviews.  I have collected instruction books, sample books and more technical archives on the practice of weaving….My objective is to show, through the progressions of words, a changing profession, through images, which is emblematic of places and practices in a factory that was witness.”

Patrons: The commune of Bourg-Argental, represented by mayor Stéphane Heyraud and deputy mayors.

Funding: Pilat Regional Nature Park, within the European LEADER programme (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development), Fondation de France /New Patrons, the town of Bourg-Argental

In Progress



Élisabeth Ballet, Monts d’Ardèche Regional Nature Park

You Will Tell Me

You Will Tell Me is Élisabeth Ballet’s response to a commission awarded by elected officials and residents of the former Eyrieux-aux-Serres Community of Communes and the Monts d’Ardèche Regional Nature Park. Today this region, located in the middle range mountain zone, has more than twenty abandoned milling and weaving workshops and the question of their reclassification is recurrent. The Community of Communes wished to reflect on the presence and transformation of this industrial landscape and to address the social dimension of textile work.

In Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut, the presence of the Moulinon on the banks of the River Eyrieux is strong evidence of local working history. Élisabeth Ballet created a “listening chamber” in the old station stop across the river opposite the old mill. This shelter is painted blue and is preceded by a terrace equipped with two red-brown concrete benches. Inside, a window fitted with a railing was broken open to offer a frontal view of the Moulinon. An audio montage is broadcast in various places to multiply listening points.

“The distance between the factory that we will admire and the site itself,” writes the artist, “will allow the creation of an intangible work.” In the listening chamber, the sounds of the river, the turbine and of nature mingle with noises of machines and voices of factory workers. “These voices invite us to take time to listen to stories of work accomplished here – its price, its joys and sorrows – and thus learn about the workers’ skills.”

press release, May 2014 – pdf

Patrons: elected officials and residents of the former Eyrieux-aux-Serres Community of Communes and the Monts d’Ardèche Regional Nature Park.

Funding: Monts d’Ardèche Regional Nature Park as part of the European LEADER programme (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development), Fondation de France / New Patrons, Rhône-Alpes Region, former Community of Communes Privas Centre Ardèche.


Photographic credits: Phoebé Meyer