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Swiss builds clay dreamland city model

It has become a custom for Swiss artist Francois Monthoux to come to the banks of Switzerland’s Toleure river each year to erect clay sculptures – a dream that, in a quite bittersweet way – took on grand proportions this year due to the drought afflicting Europe.

Mr Monthoux’s ambitions this year were modest but the dearth of water allowed him to build an entire city of Disney-like spires stretching out into the sky as high as a clay spire can possibly reach, that is.

“I imagine the life of the people walking under the arches, under the bridge, looking at the monuments, looking at the city,” said Mr Monthoux, who works with clay from the dried bed of the Toleure river in the Vaud canton in western Switzerland.

So, I enter a bubble, and I become a dreamer… I see their world being created under my fingers,” he added.

This too will pass…

But now he is all caught up in mixed feelings, on one hand wishing for the rain to come, on the other wanting his dream world to resist the waves of time, and water, as long as possible.

Being the nature lover that he is, Mr Monthoux is saddened to see plants perish all around him. He thinks that an enduring drought would be “a catastrophe”, regardless of the fact that it could preserve his creation. And yet, the evanescence of his work has never been a surprise to him.

“Of course, I’m a little bit sad, because I’m sad that the form I gave to the matter will disappear,” he said, adding that he would probably stop when the rain would wash away his sculpture.

Sublime perseverance

Despite the transience of Mr Monthoux’s opus magnum, it is still there, on the riverbank of the Toleure river, waiting for visitors to stop by and marvel at human creativity and aesthetical longings.

“I don’t have words to say what I feel, because it’s… it’s just sublime,” said Haidi Butty, a resident of canton Vaud.

“He showed great perseverance,” said another visitor, Corrine. “I think it’s beautiful to see people who are getting involved in a project like this until the end.”


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