Spencer Byles is an extraordinary sculptural artist with just as much drive as talent. In a true act of devotion for his occupation, Byles spent every day for over a year alone in the unmanaged forests of La Colle Sur Loup, located in southeastern France. Here, he created surreal sculptures using only organic materials found in the immediate area.
There is no way you will see all of Byles’ work unless you randomly happen upon one of his creations while exploring one of the 3 forests where Byles left his mark. This element of secrecy is intentional, just imagine going for a walk and coming across one of these fantastic creations in your path. I wouldn’t know if I should be intrigued or scared, but it would be magical all the same.
The pieces from Spencer Byles’ collection, A Year In A French Forest, are sure to mystify people for many years, until nature reclaims them back as her own.
In an interview with Bored Panda Spencer Byles said, “I had been making sculptures with found materials in forests at different times over 10 years, I felt I needed to concentrate on one large project and produce good quality photographs of each sculpture.”
Byles lives with his family in La Colle Sur Loup, which is surrounded by many lush and beautiful forests. Byles sought permission to create his art throughout the surrounding wild forests. Once permission was granted, Byles spent three months preparing and planning, picking out 20+ sites he would use to create his work. He sought areas that carried unique characteristics and provided more than enough natural surrounding materials to work with.
Byles doesn’t use any fancy equipment. He walks out into the forest with just a few basic hand tools.
The sites are in the region of La Colle Sur Loup, Villeneuve Loubet and Mougins, France
Byles uses materials found on site in the immediate location to create his one-of-a-kind sculptures. Byles found huge hand made nails, keys, and many other long ago forgotten items, which he used to improve upon his sculptures. “The materials that I did use I felt had their particular connection with the history of the place and the local village of La Colle Sur Loup”
“In the forest in La Colle Sur Loup I found many objects hidden, often only by a thin layer of soil sometimes. Bales of wire and old rope which had been buried there from flower growers and farmers who seen the forest as a place to discard their rubbish.”
None of these sculptures have names, and Byles doesn’t prefer to share what each piece represents to him. Instead, he would rather everyone make their own story up about the creations, “It’s up to the viewer regards what he or she might feel or see.”
Byles enjoys creating these awesome sculptures, calling the experience a “dream.” He says he has encountered very few problems along the way, the worst being hungry mosquitoes and the scorching temperatures in August and July. The winters in this part of France are mild, and so he continues to work, simply building large canopy shelters to hide out from heavy rain.
These minor inconveniences are “just a part of the process.” According to Byles, the biggest challenge was working all alone every day for more than one year. At first it wasn’t easy, as Byles describes himself a social person, but within very little time he began to love the long days spent all alone at peace with nature. “All five senses are heightened when you are in a forest for a long period.”
None of these creations will last forever. Byles simply borrows from the natural environment, knowing that within time it will take back what it rightfully owns.
“I work in a ‘living’ environment that’s constantly changing. You are witness to both the growing and dying back of all the plants and trees. It’s slow but the more time you spend in nature the more you recognise this constant movement.”
“I don’t feel the work really sits that comfortably within it’s surroundings until nature begins to reclaim it. It becomes less of a part of me and more a part of nature.”