Francois Monthoux works on his 'Monthoux castle' made out of clay retrieved from the dried bed of Le Toleure river due to ongoing drought, in Saubraz, Switzerland. Reuters
Monthoux began this year's project with modest ambitions six weeks ago but the drought allowed him to build an entire city of spires.
Visitors look at the work called ‘Monthoux castle’ by artist Francois Monthoux. Reuters
Now he has mixed feelings: he wants it to rain, but is sad at the thought of his dream world disappearing when it does.
"I imagine the life of the people walking under the arches, under the bridge, looking at the monuments, looking at the city," said Monthoux, who works with clay from the dried bed of the Toleure River in the Vaud canton in western Switzerland.
Francois Monthoux works on his ‘Monthoux castle’ in Saubraz, Switzerland. Reuters
"So, I enter a bubble, and I become a dreamer ... I see their world being created under my fingers," he added.
Monthoux, a nature lover, says he is sad to see plants dying all around him and "it would be a catastrophe" if an enduring drought meant he could keep going with the project for years. At the same time, he knew from the outset it was temporary.
Francois Monthoux works on his ‘Monthoux castle’ in Saubraz. Reuters
"Of course, I'm a little bit sad, because I'm sad that the form I gave to the matter will disappear," he said. Visitors to the sculpture are enjoying it while it lasts.
"I don't have words to say what I feel, because it's ... it's just sublime," said Heidi Butty, a Vaud resident.
Weeks of baking drought across Europe have seen water levels in rivers and lakes fall to levels few can remember, exposing long-submerged treasures — and some unwanted hazards.
Europe isn’t alone in the crisis, with drought conditions also reported in East Africa, the western United States and northern Mexico.
Friday's drought declaration covers parts of southern, central and eastern England including the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Kent and south London, among other places.
Europe is facing its worst drought in at least 500 years, with two-thirds of the continent in a state of alert or warning, reducing inland shipping, electricity production and the yields of certain crops, a European Union agency said on Tuesday.
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