Everyone has a special place. Inside of our own garden, or outside. Close, or far away. A specific place where we can read, a particular place where we can dream, an exceptional one where we can help others or bring joy, an exclusive and unique one where we can create and express ourselves.
The Ideal Palace, from Hauterives, located in region Rhone-Alpes, south-east of France, is one of such places, built by the extraordinary Ferdinand Cheval.Postman (Facteur) Cheval began to build Palais Ideal in April 1879. As a postman, he started collecting stones in his walks (about 30 km every day), beautiful stones that he originally took them home to look more carefully. When he reminded himself of one of his own dreams of building a palace, or a castle, he truly started to do. At the beginning he was bringing stones in his pockets, then in bags, later on in his cart.
Coming from a poor family, and with very little time spent in school, Ferdinand Cheval gets inspired from the postcards and magazines he delivers periodically. But his imagination goes far beyond any of these, and after 33 years, all his work becomes a wonderful piece of art, considered by Surrealists as an Outside Art work. Over time, this unique work, with basically no architectural rules, becomes eventually recognized and classified in 1969 under Naïve Art.Originally called “The Temple of Nature”, Facteur Cheval imagined the palace inhabited by birds, octopus, elephant, but also giants, fairies and other creatures.
He combined stones, with seashells, oysters, assembled with lime mortar.He started his work with a little fountain called “The source of life”, but then over years, his work expanded so much, with so many other pieces, difference sides of the palace having different meanings, building an ideal place not only for animals, or for plants, but for humanity as well, bringing together a Hindu Temple, a Swiss Chalet, the Square House of Algiers, a Medieval Castle and a Mosque. An almost mystical place, where the nature, mythology and humanity is blending together, this place is actually a universal palace, a place of harmony, fraternity and peace.