Happiness is a warm gun

“Ideas should not stay inside the brain, but should be released and given expression.”(André Robillard)

This year of 2015 the Thurgau Art Museum is paying homage to the work of André Robillard…and after our lacklustre time on the Beaver Trail today, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I also paid homage to his work.

We were at the Charterhouse Ittingen (Kartause Ittingen), a former Cathusian monastery near Warth, Thurgau, and now used as an education and seminar centre with two museums, a farm, a restaurant, a gift shop and a grocery.

The buildings accommodate the Thurgau Art Museum, the Ittinger Museum and tecum, an Evangelical meeting and education centre.

There is also a residential home here for about 30 people with mental illnesses or learning difficulties who are employed round the various businesses on site.

In addition, there are two hotels with 67 rooms and the restaurant Zur Mühle.

Their agricultural concern is amongest in the biggest in the Canton.

Here all kinds of traditional crops are grown, alongside grapes (for wine) and hops (for beer) and milk (for cheese).

The son of a physically abusive warden for the Forest of Orleans, Robillard encountered, at a very early age, scholastic difficulties, and, at the age of 7, he was placed in the Annex School of Fleury les Aubrey´s psychiatric hospital.

Destined to be relegated to farmwork, he became violent and choleric and was committed once again, at age 19, to Fleury les Aubrey.

After numerous escape attempts, at age 33, he became an auxiliary worker in the gardens, the laundry and the sanitation areas of the hospital.

Still psychologically sick, he has chosen to remain as a worker at the hospital rather than reside elsewhere.

He began to create with rubbish items he found in the course of his work – empty bottles of pickles or jam, used lamps, recovered pieces of wood, cloth, tissue, trash – to “kill my misery” works of art making rifles, spaceships, knights and exotic animals.

“It´s stupid that engineers design guns to kill when it is easier to design guns that don´t.”(André Robillard)

It is truly amazing how he makes trash into treasure.

His inventiveness, though at first glance seems childlike, is remarkable.

Sputniks from spoons, rockets from toys, rifles from driftwood, his troubled mind derives, and gives great satisfaction to himself and those fortunate enough to witness for themselves, the miracle of creation from the ruins of destruction.

Can a normal mind create?

Or does creation require a spark of madness?

Maybe we all could use some madness to make our normal lives extraordinary.


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