Life Style

Wood trades, from the professional high school to the Villa Medici

Of the 280 young people, many had never been abroad before. Some had never even crossed the borders of New Aquitaine before… Here they are, however, rather at ease, dazzled and flattered by the almost princely welcome reserved for them, for a week, in the Renaissance setting of the Villa Médicis, where the greatest artists have succeeded each other for two centuries (Ingres, Berlioz, Debussy, Balthus…).

“More than a school trip, this stay is the high point of Residence Pro, an unprecedented initiative that has been mobilizing teams and students from 15 vocational high schools for the past year”explains Frédéric Chaboche, director of the Forest-Wood Professions Campus of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. “Our approach is based on project pedagogy, perfectly suited to our young people, who sometimes have trouble with an overly academic approach. »

At the heart of the project, supported in particular by the regional council and the academic region, is a series of collective masterpieces highlighting the wood industry, while echoing Roman heritage.

A wooden pavilion of 300 m2

This evening, in the gardens of the villa where peacocks and parakeets give voice, the classes of CAP, bac pro and other BTS reveal their projects, videos in support. Their representatives may have benefited, the same morning, from an eloquence workshop, but it is not easy to speak. But, in this public made up of teenagers usually quick to bedroom, the benevolence is flawless.

It must be said that the masterpieces presented command admiration, such as this mini-house mounted on wheels and equipped with an opening to serve as a traveling stage, or this covered bench extended by a large frame, to be placed in downtown, in Rome or elsewhere, “to appreciate a monument like a painting”.

These achievements, which will be brought together in October 2023 at a fair dedicated to wood, in Bordeaux, unfortunately did not make the trip to Rome. With one exception: the 300 m2 wooden pavilion that houses the ceremony. A marquee surmounted by an inflatable dome 9 meters high, inspired by the Pantheon and Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Designed by the students of the Haroun-Tazieff high school, in Saint-Paul-lès-Dax (Landes), with the help of two architects who were former residents of the villa, this structure was produced and assembled “from scratch” in the establishment. , before heading to Italy. This stunning installation will be presented during the Festival des Cabanes, soon to be organized by the Villa Médicis. A decision that reflects the philosophy of Résidence Pro: to honor formations that are too often discredited, chosen by default.

“Wood, from the raw state to luxury”

Amélie, one of the few girls in this very masculine universe, had first taken the general route, “with the idea of ​​becoming an architect”. But a depression caught up with her, and with it difficulties to follow the courses. “I was forced to turn professional. »

Up against the wall, she thought back to her late grandfather, a carpenter, whom she sometimes assisted when she was very young… What does she like about her professional carpentry baccalaureate? Implementation “very concrete” learning, especially in math. And “internship periods in a company”slips this pupil of the Sillac high school, in Angoulême (Charente).

Braids tied on the skull, tattoo in the neck, Quentin, also in first, left the general way even before the end of the college, to follow a third discovery of the trades. He got to grips with mechanics, bodywork, boilermaking, before setting his sights on cabinetmaking, a field in which he has since obtained a CAP, before embarking on a crafts certificate.

“I work with my hands. I have the satisfaction of seeing the work progress little by little, until the last coat of varnish”, confides this student from the Lavoisier high school in Brive-la-Gaillarde (Corrèze). “We straighten, we plane, we give the wood a second life”, adds one of his classmates, Alexandre, in final year. He dreams of being a carpenter on board ships and thus bringing this raw material “from raw to luxury”.

A library arch

Both are inexhaustible on their masterpiece, a backlit bookcase, with sliding boxes. A piece of furniture whose shape echoes those of Roman arches. “A library arch like the passage from classical antiquity to the modern world”summarizes Quentin. “We even used basalt, to recall the appearance of these constructions”, boasts Alexander.

During a walk between pines and cypresses, the whole class sets out on a bucolic section of the Via Appia, a cobbled road built in the 4th century BC, to discover the famous arches seen here only in photo. With one instruction: draw these archaeological remains crushed by light.

Wood trades, from the professional high school to the Villa Medici

Half an hour by taxi from there, in a residential area, another class, also on its way to meet its source of inspiration, rushes into an old garage transformed into an artist’s studio, covered with a thick layer of wood dust. These students from the agricultural and forestry high school in Sabers (Landes) have an appointment with Andrea Gandini. The Roman, in his early twenties, has earned a reputation as an ecological street artist by sculpting characters in the stumps of trees felled by municipal services.

If this host is bombarded with questions today, it is because his approach has given ideas to high school students in the Landes. Who have reconstructed a fragment of the Colosseum from two huge oak logs, a collective achievement that counts for their baccalaureate. “Taking up this challenge as a team offered the opportunity to approach wood from a creative angle, and not just a productive one”greets Camille Bordier, teacher in socio-cultural education.

“The question of beauty is also at the heart of craftsmanship. »

Decompartmentalising… This is also what Samir Boumediene, resident of the Villa Medici, does when he meets, the next morning, some of the high school students in residence. “The Greek term tekhne referred to both art and craftsmanship, recalls the historian. And the question of beauty is also at the heart of craftsmanship. »

At his side, another resident, the brilliant jack-of-all-trades Charlie Aubry. This visual artist, videographer, musician, hacker of computers and recycled electronic objects shows students how art is sometimes close to DIY, how much it needs“manual intelligence”.

Wood trades, from the professional high school to the Villa Medici

And when the Catalan composer Hèctor Parra projects an extract from his opera Wildeit is also to show the huge wooden structure, three stories high, on which the singers evolve. “For each show, we need 300 people, including to make the sets. Do not be afraid ! There’s nothing elitist about opera! », he urges. Something to open up horizons. “So, I could become a decorator in an opera? », asks a future bachelor in carpentry.

“For the Villa Medici, Residence Pro is part of a desire to open up to other audiences, more in touch with French territories”comments its director Sam Stourdzé, who is determined to continue the adventure. “The objective is to welcome 1,200 vocational students for a one-week residence next year, in partnership with four regions. »


The Villa Medici, seat of the French Academy in Rome

Founded in 1666 by Louis XIV, the French Academy in Rome was transferred in 1803 to the Villa Medici.

Surrounded by a seven-hectare park, Right in the heart of the Italian capital, this Renaissance villa has been welcoming renowned residents for more than two centuries. Today, 16 artists, creators and art historians, French or French-speaking, are welcomed for one-year stays. More and more short residencies are also offered. At the same time, the Villa Medici is developing an artistic program in all fields of creation.

It also has the mission of preserving, to restore, study and make known to the public its built and landscaped heritage, as well as its collections. Every year, 12,000 students (half are French) visit it.

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