Ubelka - Spirits of the Huveaune

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Date: 2013
Ref: 7004.01
Materials: Aluminium, polychrome
Dimensions: 175 x 80 x 80cm (3 + 2AP)
Exhibition history: 2013 Moulin Saint-Claude, Auriol, Marseille
Courtesy: The Artists, the Nouveaux Commanditaires, Bureau de Competences and Rives & Cultures Marseille

The Chemin des Fées is a parcours of five public sculptures Spirits that map the presence of the Huveaune, a coastal river in eastern Provence that originates in the massif of Sainte Baume and flows into the Mediterranean Sea at Marseille. These spirits, genii loci, invest five locations along the riverbanks and weave an unprecedented link between the past and the present. They invite visitors to discover a 30km trail along the Huveaune valley and new ways to explore the river. Drawings from historical texts, legends and stories surounding the foundation of Marsillia, the ancient port of Marseille the myths recount the strong feminine presence associated with the valley of the Huveaune. Spirits of the Huveaune refer to the universal water cycle and raise public awareness of environmental issues related to the river’s fate, questioning water management in the future, here as elsewhere. 

In Celto-Ligurian, the ancient language spoken in the region, Ubelka, another name for the river, signified “destroyer,” a direct reference to the river’s tempestuous and unpredictable character. Ubelka was considered to be a soothing mother figure but she could also be capricious and redoubtable, much like the terrible flooding the river was renowned for. Lucy + Jorge Orta have imagined Ubelka La fée du pont as the spirit of an ancient footbridge. Niched in the breath-taking cliffs at Auriol, she is perched ready to leap forward to protect the beauty and serenity of the valley. Present since ancient times, she understands the value of water and symbolises ancestral knowledge. In the water cycle, Ubelka refers to the precipitation stage, where water returns to earth in the form of rain.

Ubelka La fée du pont was inaugurated April 6, 2013 in on the bridge in the Moulin Saint-Claude, Auriol.