Location: Saint-Christophe-d’Allier, France
I’m a weaver and a visual artist. I’m mostly a solo weaver in my studio, simply because there’s only space for one person to sit at a loom. But I’m lucky to have a talented young woman, Lydie Roure, working with me to help with various aspects related to my work, like marketing and social media. I’m also proud to say that I teach weaving to Lydie and my mom and they are precious assistants when I need a hand. I also love to have young weavers, artists and makers of all kinds come in to share experiences or do collaborations.
My workshop is on my farm in the middle of nowhere in France. It is 3km to the nearest village, Saint-Christophe-d’Allier. Part of the farm is my studio – a very unusual studio because it is also a theatre. My husband Stanislas Pierrel is a musician, guitar player and composer. Because weaving and music are the oldest primitive arts in the world, we decided to create a place where we could combine the two. My husband and I had the chance to collaborate on the artistic works Seeds of Encounters and The Secret of Paper (each an artistic book and album combined).
Nature is my inspiration. I grew up with animals, and both my grandmother and my parents taught me how important it is to respect the earth and life. They always worked hard with their hands. Their hands not only knew how to grow vegetables, but also how to knit, to sew, to repair. My dream was to have a farm with my family, with animals and with looms to weave moments of life. It is my paradise, where my roots can grow.
As far back as I can remember and from what my parents told me, I always had the need to create, though weaving came later. I began with painting, sketching, collage – always the desire to mix materials. When I discovered weaving, 28 years ago, I immediately fell in love with the alliance of beautiful materials and an incredible technicity. Step by step, I understood that it was the path to follow. I still tell myself every morning: “Nadine, follow your heart. If you feel joy deep inside, this is the path.”
But life is surprising. I didn’t start on a loom right away. First, in the early 1990s, I started working with American brands as a textile designer and art director. I was designing for industrial Jacquard looms, creating narrow woven straps for sandals, outdoor brands, mountaineering gear and pet accessories. My favourite thing was to work with technicians on the looms. I understood quickly how technical it was and that weaving was a long and difﬁcult process. Through these different collaborations, I started to travel, and all around the world I met weavers; weavers who understood the origins of weaving and applied that ancestral knowledge in their work. I learned so much from these experiences that it changed my life. It was a revelation – I understood for the ﬁrst time how weaving and nature are connected. I felt an urgency to preserve this knowledge that has already disappeared in so many places.
Nine years ago, I decided to buy my ﬁrst loom to create pieces to elevate this amazing handcraft tool and philosophy. I have chosen two ways to share the weaving art with a bigger audience. First, thanks to my long experience in the textile industry, I was able to offer my expertise and then create a bridge between the industry and the handcraft world. The two ﬁelds of knowledge can collaborate, and this is now something that I do myself, by weaving limited series or woven swatch samples on my loom for various brands.
Second, I produce woven art for people to experience. Weaving provides such freedom of creativity, and I tell stories about subjects like deforestation or the pollution of the ocean. My constant goal is to weave with natural materials to honour nature as much as I can. I collaborate with local wool organisations and artisans who create their own yarns by hand.
I also created Weaving for Change, an international movement of collaborations of people – craftspeople, artists and others – to promote a manual, cultural and spiritual heritage, all of which are qualities inherent in the work of creating art.
Promoting yourself as an artist is a completely different process, however. It is necessary to have a presence on digital media – on social networks like Instagram – to show pieces and to share creative processes, and a website must be updated with the latest creations. Enlarging the creativity through collaborations with different artists is important too. My online store also allows me to show my artworks for sale and some collaborations. It is a way to share and interact with my community.
I’m lucky to have a lot of help from my co-worker Lydie, who largely takes care of the marketing and social media. It is very difﬁcult for most people who work with their hands to ﬁnd time to talk about themselves. The process of creation takes so much time.
Photography: ©Arnaud Childéric , ©Steve Bob Hoskins, ©Sebastien Gigé,