Sentiment d’appartenance (À chaque oiseau son nid est beau). The English translation is ‘Sense of Belonging’ (To every bird, its own nest is beautiful).
This large-scale sculptural installation by artist Patrick Murphy, features 200 life size Seagull sculptures installed across the facade of the iconic City Hall building in the city of Le Havre, France.
The Seagulls appear in five positions arranged individually and in groups. Each Seagull is made from resin and fixed to the building via stainless steel legs. The work is located on the symbolic City Hall building designed by famous architect Auguste Perret in the 1950s. Le Havre was rebuilt by Auguste Perret after it was bombed in World War II, and was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2005 because of its fine examples of architecture.
‘Sense of Belonging’ adds to a range of art and design across the northern French city including the ‘Volcano’, a landmark designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer, who also designed the city of Brasilia. ‘Sense of Belonging’ has been commissioned by UN ÉTÉ AU HAVRE contemporary art festival and forms part of the festival programme as well as being a long term addition to the city.
The gulls are designed to occupy the City Hall, using the building as their new home. Seagulls are already a very familiar sight in the streets of Le Havre, and this new installation references the birds’ familiar visibility but increases their number to become either a disturbing or pleasing sight depending on whether you like seagulls. Some see them as a looming threat, similar to The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock. Others see them as a crucially characteristic element of any coastal town.
This tension and ambiguity is central to Patrick’s work which explores the relationships we have with spaces and places in our shared landscapes. In his previous work such as ‘Belonging’ installed The Walker Gallery for the Liverpool Biennial, birds serve as an anthropomorphic reflection to certain human situations and tensions and show a way to find a sense of home or shared territory.
Patrick says, “I feel very fortunate in having had the opportunity to work on this public art installation during a very challenging year for all of us. The City Hall building in Le Havre provides a perfect location for this artwork and the UN ÉTÉ AU HAVRE team have been fantastic in making it happen. The city has so much art and design history, including being the setting and inspiration for Claude Monet’s famous 1872 painting “Impression, Sunrise” which gave rise to the artistic term ‘Impressionism’. The work is part of a continued evolution on a theme of home and shared space – something that all of us have had to consider during the Pandemic.”