Situated in the south of the Cher département, the Abbey of Noirlac dominates the pastoral landscape of the Cher valley. It has been a heritage site for culture (CCR) since 2008, and seeks to unite the concepts of desert and hospitality while combining artistic creativity and the promotion of the site’s heritage.
THE HERITAGE SITE
Construction of the abbey began in 1150, and the abbey is a reflection of the monastic aestheticism of the Cistercian order founded by St Robert. From the 16th century until the French Revolution, its monks devoted themselves as much to the management of the community’s property as to their spiritual life. In 1791, the abbey was confiscated as national property and for much of the 19th century the site was used as a porcelain factory. The abbey became the property of the Cher département in 1909, and from 1950-1980 underwent a comprehensive restoration project, reinstating its original character but also embracing modernity with the commissioning of contemporary stained-glass windows from Jean-Pierre Raynaud. The abbey became a heritage site for culture (CCR) in 2008 and is today a space for cultural and artistic exchange, while also remaining open to visitors all year round.
THE CULTURAL PROJECT
Noirlac Abbey aims to link its rich heritage with a wide-ranging contemporary artistic project. The interaction between history and modernity, artists and architecture, the general public and artistic creation are at the heart of the project. The centre has two fundamental missions – to bring together artistic creation and heritage promotion on one hand; and on the other to link the concepts of desert and hospitality. The abbey offers artists and scientists a space for research and experimentation and is also a place of welcome, a place for sharing and for interaction with the public.
The abbey offers the possibility to explore new formats for exchange and dialogue. As a centre for research on the theme of sound, the abbey is interested in the anthropology of sound, in the bringing together of different musical styles, new methods of sound production and the relationship between sound and nature. The abbey is also a place of artistic diffusion, organising numerous meetings and interactive activities and hosting artists in residence throughout the year. Art, sound and visual exhibitions complete the cultural offering.
A LOCAL AND REGIONAL PRESENCE
The forging of strong links with its cultural partners in the region remains a priority for Noirlac. Since 2012, the abbey has been organising artistic events in collaboration with the Maison de la Culture in Bourges. These partnerships are more than just a way of merging expertise and finances, being based on a shared willingness to take artistic risks, to offer to audiences new experiences and to open up new artistic horizons in the region and further afield.