Un monde qui s'en va.  /      A disappearing world.

Preface by Lucine Jegat-Lallouet.

While the chapels and calvaries were conserved in reasonable condition, often thanks to associations that realised their importance to society, the houses, barns and outbuildings were systematically transformed or destroyed. What shame, what inferiority complex lies hidden behind this destructive attitude? How could a single generation massacre the heritage of such a rich culture, losing at the same time their architecture, their landscape and their language? The sharp eye of artist Tom Hickman, stranger in a lost paradise, has nevertheless seen a rustic beauty, worthy of interest and love. His pencil has fixed for the future the vestiges of a way of life that was both basic and profoundly mysterious. Will his drawings remain the only memory of a disappearing world?


Even during my first visit to Central Finistere back in 1987, it seemed an abandoned land, like the land of sleeping beauty, which until then I had seen only in my imagination. Often the debris of decades oozes from every opening like a broody hen having difficulty covering her chicks. Lumps of scrap metal are dumped at the doorstep where once a proud owner stood. Swallows fly free through broken windows where once an old oak frame was firmly closed by internal shutters.

The great brooding bulk of Coat Queveran defies gravity. Imposing and yet sad, this fifteenth century Manoir comes into the category of serious ruin. In my youth I was told one must see Venice before it sank. Now I recommend a tour of certain Breton ruins before they pass their sell-by date and disappear before the bulldozer.

The beauty of such architecture does not rely on great grandeur or flamboyant embellishments but in its relation to the immediate landscape and the rational needs of the people who built it. The architectural style arises naturally as a result of resourcing local materials, and that which man has fashioned grows easily out of the land utterly at one with its surroundings and in doing so respecting its environment. Its intimate organic style gives one a clear picture of the past, the people and their daily lives.

As an artist my eye automatically searches out those buildings with charm. A house with patina, cared for over centuries and showing its age with pride, a house that is at one with nature allows birds to nest within its walls, bats to enter under the eaves, moss and lichen to grow and colour its stone, toads to live in the coolness of its foundations; in short a house that truly lives and breathes.  

A DISAPPEARING WORLD is a hand-bound limited edition of 2oo copies numbered and signed by Tom Hickman. It is a square format 12 x 12 inches and within its 136 pages it contains 107 of Tomís detailed drawings. The text is in both English and French and is available from the artist; at a price of £95 (postage and packaging not included). There remain approximately forty of the book available as well as some of the original framed drawings (from £130-£700).

Lezele, 29690 Plouye, Bretagne, France. 

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