In the dust and the cold, the sculptor Olivier Vernet opened the doors of the Saint-Martin church worksite in the Yvelines. He makes it a point of honor and humility to decorate the spire of this thousand-year-old church, even though cold and dust have been his companions since the work began in February.

Immersion on the construction site

After a visit to the manufacturers’ office, the sculptor entrusts us with a safety helmet. Surprisingly, we are allowed to climb the scaffolding, over twenty meters high. This gave us a panoramic view of the Yvelines all the way to Paris. “From this height, English enemies travelling up the Seine could be spotted from afar”, says the sculptor.

It’s the first time that Olivier has found himself in charge of ornamentation on a site of this scale on his own account. “There’s a lot of research to be done beforehand to find the little documentation available from the time of this church, which is a thousand years old, since it was founded in the year 1009. Of course, you need sensitivity to carry out such work. I work with a very fine grain of stone for optimum precision. So I can’t be rough and cut like any other stone. But it’s also a work of humility. Having to intervene on monuments that are several centuries old, it also means making sure that you can’t see the trace of the man who remodeled them,” says Olivier Vernet .