toys for free from plants and pieces of wood

made long ago by grandfathers or children themselves.

Toys for free? Less than a hundred years ago children knew nothing but – or little else. Armed with a pocket knife, in the country or during the holidays, they spent hours making their toys from their natural surroundings.

As for the grandfathers, there were many who loved nothing better than making toys for their grandchildren. Their creations – when one is lucky enough to find them – are just like the popular toys of the period. But contrary to the craftsmen who would make a series of toys of the same sort, the grandfathers made their toys as imaginative one-off creations. This results in a freedom of expression normally attributed to children and artists, a pure delight in the act of creation inspired by humour and tenderness which transcends the sometimes awkwardness of execution.

To place these moving relics from the past under the spotlight, these fragile, modest playthings from another time – before the War, the flight from the countryside, the world of consumerism and globalisation - is to trust that they can be an inspiration to step “out of the box”. It might stimulate children and grandparents today to make things by hand and be a precious introduction to Nature and to the world of Outsider Art.

In the exhibition the toys made of plants are presented in 25 butterfly display cases; those of “musique verte” around a green violin; the toys made by “grandfathers” in glass display cases and on pedestals.

catalogue - “Toys from plants” (pub. Plume de Carrotte)

exposition "Musique Verte " Beaubourg 1981

Photos Leonid Padrul, Ameziane Yahia, Christine Armengaud.



Images of some of the toys in the collection “Grandfathers’ Toys” in 36 click.