The Barn Whisperer creates chickens and roosters galore in Rigaud
PHOTO BY LUCE LEFEBVRE
This delighted youngster does the ‘chicken walk’ with one of the fun, whimsical creations of sculptor Roger Brabant now on display at the Rigaud Library, 102 rue Saint-Pierre.
Imagine a chicken coop. Alive with 40 roosters, birds, fish, foxes, and other assorted critters and personalities, all running riot in Rigaud. Then welcome to the artistic world of St. Lazare sculptor, Roger Brabant, known by many from throughout our region as the 'Barn Whisperer' because, for at least 10 years, he has been recycling old farm buildings and houses to salvage the heritage wood that he uses throughout the winter to create his one-of-a-kind sculptures.
Many of which, from now through March 11, are on display at the Rigaud Library in an exhibit titled Le Poulailler imaginaire (The Imaginary Chicken Coop) that is leaving visitors clucking and crowing with laughter and possibly new additions to their collections of truly original Quebec folk art.
“Because when I was a teenager,” he said, “we had a chicken coop and I spent many hours watching the roosters and I have always been impressed by them. They are leaders, they have character, their own personality, they're proud, and they come in many different shapes, colours and breeds.”
Added Brabant, who retired from the American and Canadian Equestrian Olympic teams as a groom several years ago, worked several years as a landscaper in the area, and is now part of the sales team at Les Serres Vaudreuil from spring to late fall, “A few years ago, I decided I wanted people to know about 'l’art populaire du Québec', which originates from the beginning of the century, if not earlier.
“During winter, with no radio, no television, no power, and only hand tools, our ancestors - both men and women - went into their barn and carved the daily routine in the wood they had around them. Boats, cows, roosters, sheep, chickens, strong men of the village, and horses with carriages. In French, they were known as 'Les Gosseux' and, in English, ‘The Whittlers.’
Brabant's sculpture whittlings have been exhibited in town halls, galleries, as well as cultural institutions, and are in private collections of those who love Quebec folk art.
Brabant is also planning on visiting schools to talk about wood carving and art populaire, as well as retirement homes to entertain the elderly about things from their past, “Heritage wood has character and adds to the charm of the sculptures. I also recycled nails, hardware, and rusted tin sheets that come from these old buildings in our area, giving them a second life in my sculptures.”