We want to introduce to you a talented bobbin lace artist. We hope you will enjoy reading Veronique's story as much as her work. We asked Veronique a few questions.
Veronique, when did you first discover bobbin lace, and what made you start creating your own?
I discovered bobbin lace in 2006 during an exhibition at the Textile Design Department of the Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Pieters Woluwe, Belgium, where I lived for 30 years.
I was very enthusiastic about what I discovered in contemporary lace, and I enrolled for this teaching that I followed for ten years, at the same time as Art History courses. I graduated in 2016 with high distinction, having presented several personal works.
In parallel, I followed advanced bobbin lace training in Belgium and France. I continue to practice lace, very freely, and I am interested in other materials such as paper that I make by myself and combine with lace.
I wanted to resume a creative activity after many years spent in office work and raising my children. I needed to find the pleasure of touching the textile and creating, as I had done in my childhood, with different materials and techniques.
My parents were passionate about textiles. My father embroidered and knitted in his leisure time, creating his own embroidery designs, my mother sewed, embroidered, knitted, crocheted. And in the family house, the lace piece passed down from generation to generation, having created my taste and admiration for this know-how linked to very specific regions.
What does bobbin lace mean to you, what is most interesting in this technique for you?
I belong to a stream of renewal in the art of lace, moving away from the traditional models to propose personal creations.
My approach is part of a resolutely contemporary and artistic approach to show that the art of lace, with traditions deeply rooted in Europe, continues to evolve and is part of artistic expression in the same way as painting or sculpture. I want to show that lace is not only useful as headdresses, fashion accessories, clothing, or decorative like place mats to put on a piece of furniture to decorate.
By revisiting the lace with my own creations, I also like the idea that gestures, known techniques that have been long used by the man can continue, to be transmitted. What pleases me in the lace is the play of transparency, the light that passes through, shadows, filled, and empty spaces. I like the subtlety, the delicacy that I can express with the thread.
I find in the gesture and the practice of the bobbin lace great appeasement, a great calm, like a meditation. All the fingers work equally, and the mind is soothed. I like this practice slow, patient where the acceleration has no bet. It is the opposite of the rhythm of the world as it is today for many things. Here are other aspects that immediately pleased me by practicing lace: The material I use is simple: a pillow, pins, bobbins, and threads.
The beauty, the delicacy, and the diversity of the points which are born by the crossing of the threads.
The touch of the thread, that element so fragile and solid at the same time, so elementary and so varied in these matters and its combinations. Linen, cotton, silk, synthetic thread, paper, or natural fiber, all these materials interest me with their texture, density, resistance, color, and transparency. Seeing the reflection in the silk, feeling the roughness of a thread, appreciating the roundness of another one, or even the structural details, is a unique tactile and visual experience that I like very much. I like the association of materials that are sometimes bold because they provide me with considerable freedom when interpreting my themes.
Where do you find your inspiration from?
I find my inspiration in nature, the plant world, and the marine world. I like the themes of bark and trees. The trees are my meditation companions in my walks. They lift me to the sky and take root in the deepest part of the earth. As for the marine world, from my training as an oceanographer, I have retained the curiosity and the ability to marvel at this world that feeds my imagination, especially jellyfish.
Finally, as I love architecture and design, geometry and optical effects are also an essential source of inspiration for me. What is your most significant accomplishment? The installation of thirty jellyfishes is my biggest accomplishment. Through this set, I try to create the impression of being immersed in the sea in the middle of jellyfish and to cause a soothing and poetic sensation. This installation questions the spectator according to his own experience, because the jellyfish have a power of attraction but also repulsion.
I did a research on the threads that allowed me, thanks to the light of spots projected on the jellyfish, to translate the capacity they have to make their own light, that is to say, the bio-luminescence, as do other fish or glow worms.
I realized jellyfish in volume with space thread crossings to simulate the transparency of jellyfish's gelatinous body. They are of different sizes, ranging from 5 cm to 35 cm in diameter, in white or slightly pink threads, different materials, shiny, transparent, or mat, with tentacles of threads from 50 to 120 cm long, with or without asperities (harshness of tone or manner).
I recently worked with young "makers" computer scientists and "hackers" to achieve direct and diffused lighting on my smaller jellyfish placed in a glass jar. Lighting using micro LEDs and controlled by a microprocessor can bring a light that changes over time. When art combines with technology, the dream is even more intense. I am also curious to make such crossings between the disciplines.
Do you attend art fairs, exhibitions, and competitions?
I have exhibited since 2008, mainly in France and Belgium, alone or with other artists. Exhibiting with other artists is also a very enriching and rewarding experience that opens up new horizons. In 2018 I exhibited at the Semaphore of Aber Wrac'h in Brittany (France) and the Trizay abbey in Charente-Maritime (France), so as in Binche and Bruges (Belgium) in the framework of the World Congress of lace. For my previous exhibitions, since 2008, have a look at my website.
Exhibiting and presenting my works in a specific space is highly stimulating for me. It is part of my creative process, enabling me to explore volume and space: big and small. Inventing a story around the threads, and letting myself be guided by nature and the seasons feeds my inspiration. Each occasion is a new challenge: looking for an idea, adapting to the space, finding the right presentation, the optimum light, harmony, and a dialogue between the pieces, conveying an emotion, discussing my art with visitors. I have never had the chance to be invited to art fairs, and I would like it very much.
I participated in competitions: in 2009 in Belgium, organized by the Domaine de la Lice, and in 2013 in Italy, hosted by the Museo Didattico della Seta in Como, and which were the subject of exhibitions.
Do you teach bobbin lace?
No, I don't teach bobbin lace, because I've got another job until now. I already had the opportunity to make a demonstration and workshop with adults and children. It was a good experience.
Do you have some funny or inspirational stories about creating lace and your lace related?
I have an anecdote that touched me a lot during an exhibition for a month in a chapel. A gentleman, not very young, living in the village, used to visit the exhibitions organized every year in this chapel. His wife was seriously ill for a long time. Visiting the exhibitions gave him the opportunity to escape, travel through art, and dream. Contemporary lace was totally unknown for him until this day, so much that he asked me if I made my lace with stockings for women. Surprised, but with calm, I explained to him how I did this work. He was very astonished and even more admiring that one could leave only threads and, by their crossing with bobbins, manage to create a pattern. He came back several times during the exhibition, and one of the last days, he bought me a lace that represented women dancing. He told me that he had hesitated a lot for this purchase because his wife was holding him back and telling him that the priority was to replace the dishwasher! But this gift he made was filled with happiness. Read in his eyes.