An exhibition of artistic sculptures based on pink garlic – how could I resist when I saw the poster outside the tourist office in Lautrec? Pink garlic is a local speciality, but despite its undoubted charms it didn’t seem a promising material for sculpture. I imagined tiny netsuke figures whittled from cloves of garlic, but the reality was almost more surprising: whole heads or cloves of pink garlic and the white strawy garlic stalks were used as the raw material for tableaux of various kinds.
A mediaeval timbered house was composed of garlic bulbs and stalks, with pink cloves for roof tiles. An aeroplane made of garlic stalks had pink-clove-shaped passengers peeping out of the windows. A deep sea scene featured fish and crustaceans of garlic. In my favourite tableau, a rugby stadium had been recreated. The base of garlic cloves were the floodlights, garlic stalks were the goalposts, and the stadium terraces were packed with fat pink garlic cloves, looking surprisingly plausible as sports fans. My favourite thing about the exhibition was that visitors went round in respectful silence and with completely straight faces, as though there were nothing in the least amusing about an octopus made of garlic.
The region seemed to lack its local Damien Hirst. Nobody had thought to slice a garlic clove vertically and to display its cruelly separated halves suspended in a tank of formaldehyde.