Les Ateliers du Vent à Rennes

Ateliers du Vent

An art space unlike any other

No stay in Rennes is complete without a trip to a unique art space: the Ateliers du Vent. Tucked away in the Cleunay neighbourhood between the Roazhon Park and the new Courrouze district, this is a place where magic happens. An artists’ residence, eatery and so much more rolled into one, this art space doubles as a living space for the community, overseen by an art collective founded over 20 years ago.

The Ateliers du Vent story

The Ateliers’ story begins in the last century. Amidst the frenzy of the 1995 protests, art lovers, liberal arts and sociology students and self-taught artists met and mingled on their marches. They came together through their shared passion for fighting social injustice and using art as a tool of expression, and decided to set up an association. A year later, the Ateliers du Vent was born.

Having worked through its early teething stages, the art collective worked from several bases around Rennes, before taking over the premises of a former Amora mustard factory set to be demolished in 2006.

A collective with a passion for music, theatre, poetry, philosophy and politics…

Farewell pickles and condiments, hello roadworks: the beautiful 1920s building was due to be demolished and a thoroughfare built in its place. To save the premises and breathe new life into the local community, the collective asked the council if it might occupy the former factory, renovating the building and using it to offer art classes and workshops. The initiative was fairly innovative in those days, and their proposal was accepted. This marked the second chapter in the Ateliers du Vent’s history, and the doors to the crumbling building were flung open, braced and ready for the winds (‘vent’) of change.

The collective began renovation works, taking a DIY approach as they pieced together a place where artists would be able to work, meet and collaborate, with spaces and activities planned for locals, too. This was to be a platform for music, visual arts, theatre, poetry, philosophy and politics, a place where you would be just as likely to stumble upon an opera singer as you would be a puppet show.

A few years later, it became clear that major building works would be necessary. The collective decamped to containers while waiting for the works to finish, and the brand-new Ateliers du Vent premises were unveiled in September 2016. In the meantime, the neighbourhood had been completely transformed. What does life at the Ateliers look like these days?

  • Les ateliers du vent, 59 rue Alexandre Duval in Rennes. Bus #9 voltaire stop. 

A community-minded art space

Les Ateliers du Vent à Rennes
© Destination Rennes / Fabrice Mazoir

“Your work space affects your results”. This motto applies to all artists and technicians, which is why the Ateliers du Vent thought it important to keep hold of the factory, industrial, raw warehouse feel of the premises. In a way, it’s almost a metaphor for the artistic process as a continuous building site. The Ateliers du Vent is where artists work, but more importantly, it’s where they exchange ideas on their art, swap thoughts and forge views, exchanging with the neighbourhood’s new locals, who needed the concept explained to them. The Cleunay district had indeed undergone a massive overhaul, mushrooming into a miniature city, with apartment blocks shooting up as far as the eye could see.

An ever-changing city and neighbourhood

The ADV’s philosophy adapted to fit around the city’s metamorphosis, tackling a series of issues and questions as it evolved: How might public spaces be occupied? Can one’s own neighbourhood be explored as one might a foreign city? The collective gained a foothold for itself in a district that was being built around it. Initially a building site, questions now needed to be asked on the nature of the neighbourhood itself and its identity, taking inspiration from local residents, growing children and young people on the brink of adulthood, with their unlimited imaginations. And inventing their own sources of inspiration, too.

This was the springboard that led to the drawing up of a ‘sensitive’ map of the neighbourhood, or the Tourist Office, which offers millions of potential tourists poetic walks that are sometimes impossible and misuse traditional audio-guides to do so, or even more surreal initiatives such as the pâté competitions designed to illustrate the local aspect of homemade pâté.

The Ateliers du Vent does not aim to make art for art’s sake, but instead hopes to shake things up, trigger reflection, and explore the lives of local residents or those from further afield with a political slant, delving into the flair for ‘urban life’ that has been at the heart of the collective’s purpose since the very beginning.

La Cantine des Ateliers du Vent
Destination Rennes

3 good reasons to visit the Ateliers du Vent

1. To spend a thursday night with artists

At the Ateliers du Vent, artists live and work in their studios. Every Thursday evening from 6:30pm, the Ateliers’ bar is where they showcase their work and discuss ideas with other artists and members of the public, as “many ideas are born around a cup of coffee”.

2. To chow down at the Ateliers’ canteen

Managing to produce a home-cooked, locally-sourced meal using ingredients from the market for under €7 is no mean feat – in fact, it might almost be considered a stroke of creative genius. The brain behind the canteen’s menu is chef Romain Joly, who whips up a storm at the Atelier’s kitchen to bring artists and visitors a selection of tasty, fuss-free healthy seasonal dishes every lunchtime. The canteen is open every weekday lunchtime. Booking advised at cantine@lesateliersduvent.org or +33 (0)2 30 96 42 77

3. To get your exhibition, festival and art fix

There’s always something going on at the Ateliers du Vent… Soak up the warm, friendly atmosphere as you enjoy events, discussions and pop-up festivals (like Oodaaq in May). Get all the latest on upcoming exhibitions and events on the Ateliers du Vent website. www.lesateliersduvent.org

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