Let’s be honest: we first discovered Delphine Dénéréaz‘s artistic universe on Instagram (it is 2018 after all). Intrigued by her joyful practice offering a refreshing, contemporary take on a craft with a rather grandmotherly image, we wanted to find out more and had a chat with the young French-born, Brussels-based artist about her passion for weaving, navigating the art world, and working sustainably.
How did you discover tapestry art for yourself? Why did you go into this direction and what fascinates you about it?
I did a Masters in Textile Design at La Cambre in Brussels where I learned how to weave. We had courses about the history of textile and learned about all the different kinds of textile art that exist in the world. I’ve always been attracted to it. Even as a kid I already did some embroidery; I’ve always had a thing for it. I love the tactile aspect of it, the play with material, but also the motifs. When you research this genre a bit, you realize that a whole part of history and peoples’ memories get passed on through textile art. Textile carries emotions, desires…it’s the closest you can get to the human being. Our first houses are made out of sheets, the carpet is a territory. They protect us, and are passed on from generation to generation. Gestures are getting transmitted as well; they are marked with our memories.
What do you want to convey with your art?
In my art, I mostly deal with my daily life and the motifs that surround me, my father’s plants, the house of my parents, symbols from the Internet where I do pass quite a lot of time after all. It’s a testimony of the everyday. I evoke my memories, also this extremely kitschy side of holiday memories for example, all these kind of useless tourist gadgets. I find it fascinating. In this context I like the aesthetic of postcards, magnets, snow globes, … And politically speaking, I think that being a female artist expressing herself through textile, that’s already something.
What inspires you? Where do you find your ideas?
Everywhere! In everything that makes me happy. My works will make the viewer smile, it’s very visual and colorful. I think it’s because I take life from its positive side. I love the beauty of landscapes when travelling – I always have my eyes glued to the window. I love summer, the sea, pools, Southern architecture from where I’m from: the Provence region.
What’s your working process like?
First I make drawings, rather simple ones. In general I already have a quite clear idea of the piece I want to do in my head. Then I cut the strips of tissue I need, and start weaving, which takes several hours. I always make a few modifications and adjustments in the process, depending on what works best.
Was the technique difficult to learn? What are the challenges?
At school I learned the traditional weaving method, and I had this beautiful loom that a weaver gave me. I wanted to make use of it. Normally, tapestry is made on a frame, and not on a loom like mine. So I adapted it in order to be able to make my works. I don’t find it complicated at all as I learned it over the course of five years. You just need some logic and a lot of patience!
How do your choose your materials; where do you buy them?
All the materials I work with are tissues that were supposed to be thrown away, and I recycle them into tapestries. I want to work in an ecologically responsible way and at the same time make beautiful pieces of art. I pay attention to not produce any waste.
Textile art is far too often associated with folk and female art. How do you feel about that?
Yes, it’s very stigmatized. It’s never been recognized as a noble art like painting or sculpture, which is a shame. But now things are really changing, and today you can find lots of female textile art in established galleries, which is fantastic. Plus, there are also male artists who are using these kinds of techniques which used to be considered feminine. Perspectives on domestic art forms are changing, and many young artists turn them around into something new, which sometimes makes their messages even stronger.
It does look like there is a trend. There’s a book coming out on the subject, more and more textile art is popping up in galleries – do you feel like part of a movement? And if there is a trend, what’s the reason for it?
There clearly is a trend. I think it is the result of all these artists who tried to do something new with these old techniques, coupled with a returned interest in craftsmanship such as ceramics, knitting, jewellery, … At the same time, with all the digital arts emerging, some might feel the need to physically manipulate material and use their hands. I don’t really want to describe it as opposing forces though, I think they complement each other. We do need more than the digital, virtual, impalpable. I think in general we’re witnessing a return to mastering techniques in the art world, as opposed to the ready-made and conceptual approaches we’ve seen a lot in the last decades.
You are French but based in Brussels. Is it a good place for a young artist?
Brussels is just magical! It’s a city that is of a human size, but at the same time it’s a capital with so many people passing through who constantly insert novelty into the mix. It’s a crossroad in the middle of Europe, and it has the advantage of being very open when it comes to young artists. There are so many great places to see concerts, exhibitions, performances and meet people, and I’m not just talking about the big institutions. On top of all that, you can afford to have an apartment and a studio without having to kill yourself each month, which is really important for young artists.
It’s always hard to survive as an artist, especially at the career beginning. How do you navigate that?
Yes, it’s not easy. Often it’s necessary to reconcile a small job with your practice, which is not always that simple. You need to be very well organized. Above all, you have to persevere. In the beginning, nobody knows you and all that, but you should never give up. If you have the passion, you won’t stop working, I think. When it comes to galleries and exhibitions, I prefer a more human relationship. I meet someone and it clicks somehow, and it makes you want to work together. It does happen that I go to galleries to show my work, but that’s really not my favorite thing to do.
You are quite active on Instagram. Do you think social media is essential for an artist today? What’s your experience with it?
I like it as a tool; the contact with people is quite direct: if you like someone’s profile you can just send them a message immediately. I actually did quite some projects this year which emerged from that, so for me the experience has definitely been a positive one.
What are you currently working on and what’s coming up next for you?
I weave, weave, and weave!! I have projects coming up in September in Marseille, Arles and Paris, and I additionally launched a project called TAP TAP, which is also related to weaving but more on the decorative side of things: carpets and cushions with simpler motifs but which align nonetheless with my artistic practice.
Pop Up by Paulette
From 15 to 22 September 2018
126 Rue de Turenne, Paris
From 20 to 23 September
Boutique d’Été du Mucem, Marseille
From 21 to 30 September
Galerie La Marchande des 4 Saisons, Arles