Sculpture #2 (all photographs by Lionel Bouffier)
“My forest work is always ‘discovered,’ either by chance or by word of mouth,” sculptor Spencer Byles told Atlas Obscura in an email. Drawn to making site-specific land art by the allure of the forest’s open space and abundance of materials, he spent a year in the woods near La Colle-sur-Loup, a French village close to Nice, resulting in more than 40 sculptures made completely from found materials.
Spencer works on up to 30 pieces at once, each representing “[his] response to a particular location.” He only works in wild forests, looking for particular characteristics that inspire him. “Whether it’s enclosed, or an open space; the light, flora and fauna, trees; views, smells, and sound also play a part in my choices,” he said. The resulting works range from large to small, encompassing concentric circles, suspended pods, spiraling pillars, even some animal shapes. His sculptures start to disintegrate as soon as they’re made, lending a quiet poignancy to the amount of work that goes into them.
He has previously made similar site-specific works in Villeneuve Loubet and Mougins in southeastern France, but he said that the works in this series are “bigger and often stronger.” His next project, called “Paper Landscapes 2014–15,” will encompass seven abandoned buildings deep in the forest. Spencer intends to make an installation in each one, out of paper and forest materials. “The work will stay in the buildings for a short period, and I will record their deterioration over a few weeks,” he said.
Spencer with one of his creations