“Découpage” it’s called.
prints hand cut out and carefully assembled to be glued to the back of glass objects.
Made in new York, in Paris at Astier de Villatte’s Store.
Resi is a good friend of Drande’s family -Drande is the owner. She is young, she looks young, she has energy, a feature one often sees in female characters in this area; she can look at you in a way you know you have done something wrong even though she is bearing a thin smile. She will forgive, of course, because she is good natured, but there will be a price.
In fact she is old enough to stay home and take care of her salad in the garden, or even the roses. There is a saying in the east that goes more or less like this: “it you want nice flowers, have your worst enemy prune your roses.” That might be reason she leaves her husband take care of that and, instead, she gives a hand in our partner workshop in Albania teaching the younger pupils.
Yarn, looms, wool, bare no secrets for her and her authority is undisputed for miles around.
And she loves colours.
It took us some time -and some recklessness- to convince her that symmetry is not always essential, and here we are: random colours at last.
We are also doing carpets with this technique. When they arrive you’ll be first one to know.
Menno Kroon BVCornelis Schiystraat 11 1071 JC AMSTERDAM The Netherlands tel +31 20 679 19 50 email: email@example.com
Le Piscine, National Gallery of Modern Art of the city of Roubaix opened its doors to a retrospective exhibition of Nathalie Leté’s works on the 21rst of March 2015.
An international crowd of dedicated followers merged in with the locals, finding comfort in the colorful opening ceremony after a journey across a black and white city severely lacking contrast.
The visitor can be easily overwhelmed by the south Flanders landscape: plenty of empty and available space with abundant sky, invariably gray; the vague reminiscence of sea shoreline accents the wind gently deposited between the buildings are a reminder that the only available escape route is far away. Red brick storehouses and factories stand empty in what once was the Kingdom of wool of the “belle-Epoque” feeding generations of weavers and soap makers believing the good times would never come to an end end, till “la grande guerre” brought them back to reality.
Stepping off the train in such a setting, the traveler suddenly feels the urge to share his deepest feelings with the bar tender while Jacques Brel fanatically underscores his state of mind in the little radio on the shelf below the liberty style mirror – but there is no such place in sight where he can unload his burden.
By contrast, Nathalie, wearing a pink fake fur coat, welcomes each single visitor to her world of colour, fantasy and some crude details of central European fairy tales. The museum, a beautifully restored Belle Epoque swimming pool with its glazed turquoise tiles and white marble statues, now a National Gallery, is perfectly in tune with the event.
Compositions of traditional french “charcuterie” hang lugubriously from meat-packer hooks like savagely murdered dolls; a chicken prepared for the Sunday roast, decorated with Hungarian style folk patterns sits enigmatically in a glass cabinet, icon of a sacrificial beast ; pictures of bourgeois families from postcards of times long gone, recoloured for the occasion, depict children dressed as butchers showing off the daily production of fresh meat from the family butchery;
The tripes of the slain bad wolf lying beside a kitchen sink bring a positive note to the room. “A friend told me the wolf represents the father figure” whispered Nathalie over my shoulder, before welcoming yet another editor and a group of friends from Paris.
A short corridor, the interior of a gingerbread house, is decorated with elegant limited edition plates by Astier De Villatte and Po! Paris‘s cushions, amongst other products designed for various editors she is particularly fond of.
Further down, in a larger room, tapestries hang from the wall , depicting a world that would make Lewis Carroll feel like a rationalist geek and revise large sections of his works, along with his choice of tea. Toy cars, a 1950ies version of mickey mouse puppet, all sorts of insects and toy guns, embroidered and woven on an intricate woven carpet -from a distance and a in certain light- easily mistaken for a newly restored renaissance gobelin from the crown’s royal workshops of the Paris left bank.
I proudly took a generous amount of pictures and sent them to our weavers in Albania, knowing this could be a turning point in their towns history.
The fruit of their passion for embroidery and weaving , centuries of precious craftsmanship, so close to extinction, coupled with a natural penchant for colours, now hang from the wall of a national museum in France, and, what’s more, in Europe’s cradle of the best weaving industry.
Their city can be proud of this group of women from what has been considered a “sensitive” neighborhood.
“Nineteen” Leta once told me when I asked how many people work in the cooperative workshop she operates. A social business in the middle of the “city of walls” where our driver once refused to come along with me to the house because no men from the family were around. I still recall him saying “tu non capisci niente” (you don’t understand a thing) referring to the traditional Albanian codes of conduct he believed were applied to the letter in the area, locking himself in his BMW and leaving me to walk alone to the garden where a single loom stood on the terrace.
That garden is now a two story workshop hosting six looms and a spinning machine to make yarn from the best chosen wool from mountain sheep. A workshop open to the local families providing training and work for skilled weavers, producing items worthy of a National Gallery.
Walking through a corridor leading to the butchery I let myself sink in the underwater world of tropical seabeds of ceramic corals and shells, and more of that extraordinary weaving.
Yes they are going to be proud, and so are we, to be simply somehow part of the story.
“Thank you for coming” she said at the breakfast table at the hotel were the admirers and friends had spent the night after the long celebration that followed the opening.
Thank you, Nathalie, for making it possible with such talent.
Denial: the word is unheard of in the Balkans.
If you happen to mention it, the listener goes dumb “Eh?”
It’s not easy to deal with ancient practices. They are rooted in the minds of both simple and sophisticated people. In some intellectual circles they are defined as being part of a greater scheme often tagged as “culture”.
Those who practice denial regularly, following ancient habits, rarely know they are acting though cultural schemes. In fact they have know idea what this is all about.
Nor do we as a matter of fact.
When Edmond appears, he is wearing a Greek expression. Or at least, an expression on masks used in the theatres of Ancient Greek.
Edmond stands contemplating a large pile of car bonnets in his yard, hoping someone will start the talking about the Blue Alfa Romeo he had to dismantle to make a chair. Edmond has his nostalgic moments.
His face has been around the Balkans for thousands of years. No one knows exactly what the expression stands for, but it generally draws respect.
Of course Edmond would deny that his face has anything to do with Greece, and with him a long list of ancestors. And ancestors are important in the Balkans.
Denying the very existence of a nation, as it is for example in Macedonia’s case, is a fact only some bureaucrats in Brussels could come up to terms with, renaming a territory so not to offend the ashes of Alexander the great and it’s legacy, and, at the same time, satisfying Greek national pride .
While Greece denies the very existence of Macedonia, Macedonians deny the existence of the ethnic Albanians living on it’s territory. And they, in turn, deny the very notion that there is a problem at all. After all, they argue, Macedonia is part of Albania, as much of Montenegro and Greece. According to a number of respected experts in classical literature, even the Roman Empire was fundamentally Albanian.
“Why do you say I am late? I am here, and there are your chairs”
“Some of my customers have been waiting six months…”
“You people keep talking of the past. It has been raining, you know perfectly well how things work here, now the sun is shining and the chairs are there”
Logic. Strict logic, with a touch of Balkan wisdom.
We have the chairs. There is no denying that.
And meanwhile, a large number of those chairs has left Paris for Abc New York.