NAME: Louise Lemieux Bérubé
BACKSTORY: Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Louise studied post-graduate jacquard at the Rhode Island School of Design before returning to Montreal and co-founding the Montreal Center for Contemporary Textiles which has run accredited courses in textile crafts since 1990 (now incorporating weaving, knitting, embroidery, felting, basketry and dyeing). I attended a jacquard course there in 2009. It was an absolute pleasure to be in Louise’s working environment, engage with her work in the gallery, spending time with the technicians and looms, and just experience Montreal. I highly recommend it!
Louise’s jacquard work has always been incredibly detailed, engaging and with depth of meaning and technical expertise. In fact, she is a pioneer known for her innovative use of digital techniques for both weaving and embroidery. She wrote Le tissage créateur, a manual for weaving creators of all levels, and co-authored her biography Unwinding the Threads with Carole Greene which is sadly very difficult to find these days! She has always been incredibly active in her city’s political (12 years as a councillor), educational and social life, as well as in the weaving world and her approach to life is inspirational to me. I am delighted that Louise is sharing her story of weaving with us.
HOW I GOT INTO WEAVING
The work of artists fascinates me. I have long been very closely involved in various institutions and artists’ associations whose mission is to support artists and recognize their work. I rubbed shoulders with many artists from all artistic fields: dancers, painters, writers, photographers, film directors, sculptors, multimedia creators, musicians, and many others. This involvement and this rubbing shoulders have greatly influenced my own artistic career.
It was with my first creations using new Jacquard weaving technologies that this influence appeared in a more tangible way. I first realized about twenty textile works whose subject was dance and more particularly the movement, light and textiles present in the choreographic works I chose. To realize this project, I had to contact different choreographers and photographers and this allowed me to exchange with them and to understand more their work and their artistic approach.
From my Jacquard works woven in black and white, I put even more emphasis on the visual aspect. I take images, I superimpose them by integrating dancers into a universe that is foreign to them. And I intervene directly on my weavings by painting with chemical or natural dyes according to a traditional Japanese method. I am referring to the old photographs that were colored to make them more alive.
The creative steps are as important as the others: the taking of photos, the composition, the processing of digitized images, the recomposition and finally the transfer of data into textile documents. In this series on contemporary dance, I put even more emphasis on these stages of visual preparation. The weaving itself also offers its challenges by the judicious choice of armor (structure), threads and dimensions. When my works are woven in monochrome (in shades of gray) I like to make them more dynamic by incorporating steel and copper wires, or by applying dyes with a brush.
FOOTNOTE: On 24 September, Louise will be unveiling her latest project called Je reve d’être un arbre ( I dream of being a tree) and she will be putting a video of the work on her website and social media. It includes poems or phrases about trees from invited guests which are incorporated into her wonderful jacquard pieces. Do look out for it! Her website and social media links are below!
Photos: Feature: Detail Rodin Claudel-1 Top: Rodin Claudel-1 includes 7 different photos taken the night before the premiere of the performance and on the night itself. 1. In the background, two portraits of Rodin and Claudel in large formats, photos that were projected on the opening curtains of the choreography, which I photographed from the first balcony during the premiere. The other photos were taken the night before the Première, from about twenty rows back on the floor: 3. Claudel’s broken sculptures… at the bottom in the background, dancers, suffering, on the ground: 4. In medium shot some dancers with raised arms: 5. On the right, background the image of a stained glass window that was projected during the presentation: 6. On the right in the foreground, Claudel who leaves for the psychiatric hospital: 7. The main dancer (Claudel) in a position of pain, before she leaves for the hospital.
Middle: Detail of Rodin Claudel-1
Bottom: Rodin Claudel-2 includes 3 different superimposed photos