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Horizons - Arts in Nature Festival

Do you like your art to be a bit quirky, in the fresh air .. and BIG? The annual "Horizons - Arts in Nature" Festival is definitely for you. The event started in 2007 and transforms the landscape with massive open air art installations in rural Massif du Sancy, Auvergne from June to September.

A huge barcode, spread out on the mountainside was one of the site-specific creations from a previous year. Or you might have liked the giant letters "maintenant" floating across a lake, or the river stones suspended in an undulating pathway above a stream. There's no set theme for the event, which leaves the artists free to express their artistic temperament, however, the works often embrace environmental issues, commenting on the fragility of the planet and nature's amazing ability to reclaim.

The festival is fast earning an international reputation for the quality of these site-specific short-lived contemporary works. The standard and scale of the works is surprising as each artist only recieves 8,000 euros which must cover all expenses including materials, labour, transport of materials, travel, accommodation, food and more.

The event is open to artists with a strong national or international artistic experience and also to young talents who have recently graduated from art school.

So how did it begin? The idea behind the event was to showcase the region in summer to convince tourists that Sancy was not just a winter destination. The success of this daring and modern adventure is due to the support of the mayors of each of the eleven communes that make up the area. One artist is chosen for each commune and the whole community becomes involved in supporting their artist and often contributing to creating the work.

For Laeticia Carlotti's Ondes et Cible in 2008, the school children of the region collected around 15,000 spent gun cartridges left by hunters and formed a huge target on the landscape. Local cows helped out with Jean-Paul Ganem's Project Pre Vache Cloture in 2007. Local farmers lent their cows to graze circular patches into the hillside and these formed a larger picture of a cow. Ingenious!

On the opening day of the festival, judges, artists and locals pile into a fleet of buses and proudly tour the eleven artworks. And when it all finishes in September, the works start to dissappear into the landscape to create a blank canvas for next year's artists.

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