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Franck Ayroles and "The Ladies of the Breach"

Curiosity Alexandra - Responsable Communication By Alexandra - Responsable Communication, the 10 January 2020

Franck Ayroles, born in 1975, is a professional plastic artist from Saint-Nazaire and currently based in Niort.
He first studied advertising and film, worked as a set designer on several medium-length films, one of which was with actor Philippe Lemaire.
In 1998, he devoted himself to painting, a passion that followed him from a young age. In 2001, Franck Ayroles left for other horizons, including several long stays in Madagascar with the Alliances Françaises.
In 2003, the castle of Bressuire devoted a retrospective to him. In 2004, the Conseil Général des Deux-Sèvres commissioned him to create a sports trophy under the sponsorship of Dominique Rocheteau. He creates a mobile installation composed of large two-metre-high paintings that, since 2005, travels the hexagon through prestigious places and supported by the Centre des Monuments de France, museums and cultural centres.
Several times invited on our small screens in the show of France 2 presented by Catherine Ceylac, alongside Fanny Cottençon, Anne Hidalgo, Fadela Amara in 2006, with Ariane Ascaride in 2008, Elisabeth Badinter in 2010 and Professor René Frydman in 2012. In 2007, a publisher dedicated a book entitled «Womens» to him, covering his ten years of creations. In 2010, he organized with the MAIF a writing contest for the subject of his second book «Mothers» prefaced by actress Isabelle Carré.
In 2015, his third book «Childhood memories» was published with the collaboration of Zazie and Stéphane Bern.

He dedicates much of his paintings and sculptures to women symbols of femininity and motherhood. Mysterious and imaginary, these women all have common features: they have no face, their clothes are very colorful and their curves pronounced.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a designer. I continued to draw, but always with the will to go to the essentials in my line. At first, only the body or rather the appearance of my characters matter to me, their steps and their determinations are my main allies. Whether in one way or another, they have chosen to take a direction, showing their will to always move forward by giving the appearance of being sure of themselves. There is a certain serenity in the attitude. All of this obviously makes sense to me. They choose to take responsibility for their daily lives. They are loving mothers, sisters, girlfriends, sluts... They’re certainly not perfect. They just want to live free.
The clothes will be created later, the details will come spontaneously when the colors.
For the colors, I cook in my workshop. I mix a bit like a cook would mix the spices and play with the flavors. I use and explore all the possibilities that are available to me. I am not satisfied with acrylic or oil».
Franck Ayroles reveals that this choice of subject is not due to the simple fruit of chance. His paintings and sculptures reveal his story. At first, he painted dark and nostalgic couples after the loss of his parents. When he met his wife, he wished to pay tribute to her by painting colorful, multicultural, mixed, gay and bright women like her.
The desire to start a family led him to reproduce motherhood with pregnant women. Then, he evolves his characters to the rhythm of his personal life by representing the mother-child relationship, consequence of the birth of his first child.
It plays with volumes, geometry and colours. The title of his paintings is a first name in order to offer the discoverer a total freedom of feeling and expression.
The bias of sincerely indulging in his paintings allowed him to maintain a unity of style. In this way, it also touches the intimacy of each one. Spectators confront the universal themes of femininity and motherhood and are led to relate these realities to their personal and intimate lives. Thus, Franck Ayroles stimulates the exchange between the work and the spectator and creates a special or exclusive relationship between the two.

From the model to the conquest of Niort

In summer 2015, the artist submits his work to popular opinion by exhibiting a model at the CGR cinema in Niort. After more than 3,000 messages encouraging his approach, he goes looking for patrons to finance his installation.
But, at the end of 2016, the Ladies of the Breach are at a standstill despite a promise of € 10,000 made by the District Council of the city center on the € 60,000 estimated cost.
The project is relaunched at the end of 2017, with a crowdfunding campaign proposing that the names of the most generous donors be painted on the dress of one of the ladies.
The budget was finally finalized in June 2018 thanks to the grant from the District Council, the subscription on and the support of professional partners for the logistics and the handling of certain materials.
Franck Ayroles expressed the wish that the group of sculptures be placed at the top of the Breach, between the two emergencies. But he was refused by architect Jean-François Milou on the grounds that he would cut the perspective between street Ricard and avenue de Limoges. In 2018, the architect of the buildings of France gave his agreement for a place of the Temple, but, for lack of sufficient recoil, the idea was aborted. Finally, the sculpture will be unveiled on November 30, 2019, at the corner of the street of 14-July and the avenue of the Martyrs of the Resistance with, behind them, the perspective of the gardens of the Breach.
For the design of the work, the artist has composed a team of skills, qualified people in fields far removed from art, but able to adapt easily to the technical and security requirements for a monumental. He is accompanied in this adventure by his friend Fabien Nourrisson, who is used to collaborating with great names in art, such as sculptor Etienne and artist Richard Texier.
As for the construction of the galvanized steel bench, measuring nearly 4 m long and 80 cm wide, Franck Ayroles joined Tôlerie Forezienne, a subsidiary of the company Poujoulat located near Saint-PierreEtienne, specialized in urban furniture.
TF also designed the entire stainless steel structure positioned inside the two sculptures in order to consolidate the elements, as well as the hat designed in the same material. Its reinforcement was reinforced in fiber resin by Art Pro Composite based at the economic park of Rorthais.

The Ladies of the Breach
This urban sculpture depicts two twenty-foot-high multicultural women sitting on a bench.
This work is highly symbolic because it evokes exchange, communication between peoples, communities, tolerance symbolized by two women of different colours who converse. They bring together the two northern and southern hemispheres.
«This sculpture has a considerable importance in my artistic life because it sums up what I have been defending through my work for more than 25 years».
These ladies invite the passerby to sit with them for a break, a discussion or a photo. Its ladies are an original landmark on top of the gardens of the Breach.
Since its installation and thanks to social networks, the photographs of the «Ladies of the Breach» travel all over the world and make the city of Niort more known.

Photo credits: Franck Ayroles and OTNMP (Béatrice Valade).


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