Monique Ste-Marie is part of this new generation of designers-craftspeople who manage to bring traditional know-how to the service of a resolutely modern aesthetic vision.
After completing training at the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles (MCCT) in 2012, Monique moved into her studio in Montreal, where she weaves beautiful utilitarian and functional baskets and objects, with original shapes and attractive colours.
Alongside her activities as a designer Monique conducts textile design workshops and teaches weaving at the MCCT.
Monique was kind enough to let us into her world by answering a few questions for Chic & Basta.
When I was young, I got 2 college degrees, one in administration & marketing and the other one in fine arts. Later, I studied a few years in fine arts and graphic design at UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal).
After my studies, I worked several years as coordinator of projects in the field of advertising to then direct the content department in a media company.
Parallel to my career, I explored several handmade techniques like bookbinding, ceramics, mosaics, cabinetmaking ...
In 2008, the need to change my career was imposed on me and I looked for a medium to express my art. While visiting an exhibition at the Montreal Contemporary Textiles Centre I fell in love with this medium and decided to enroll in Textile Construction in CEGEP .
In 2012, I finished my studies with my collection of hemp and wood baskets. This was the starting point to start my business.
The Salon des Métiers d'Arts, the Design Haut & Fort and Souk @ SAT exhibitions followed, and since then I work full time in my business from my studio in Montreal.
What does your work space look like?
I work from my home, my studio occupies two rooms of the house, one for the creation and the other for weaving.
What kind of loom are you using?
As the originality of my pieces is in the choice of colors and materials rather than the complexity of weaving, I use traditional looms with just four frames.
What are your other essential working tools?
A creel where to install the coils of wire, a tension box to wrap the chain son on the beam of the loom, a coiler to prepare coils that are inserted inside the shuttle ... This is the language of the weaver.
Tell us about the first object that you made:
I lived my childhood in the countryside and I made all kinds of objects with the materials found in nature, clay, branches, rocks ... Exploring all kinds of materials, this is what I am still passionate about today!
This is what guided the creation of my work during my two participations in the Correspondances exhibitions that brought together 10 textile artists in May 2014 and 2015 at the Centre des textiles contemporain de Montréal.
Are there any designers that inspired you in particular? And why?
Many designers and artists are inspiring me, I love discovering them through the Web, going to exhibitions, etc. The great textile artist Louise Bourgeois , the fashion designer Issey Miyake , Japanese artist Ruth Asawa , the American designer Doug Johnston , to name a few. They all have in common the exploration of materials to create 3D objects.
Having studied art and design, I am fascinated by those who manage to speak with these two languages at once. The rigor and beauty of graphic design, the freedom of artistic expression and the emotion that comes out of it, all this inspires and guides me in my creations.
Your baskets are very original, how did you get the idea to combine wood and hemp?
Respect for the environment is at the heart of my concerns, so I focused my research on natural, sustainable and recyclable materials. I chose the hemp yarn for its green features, both in terms of its culture (it requires no fertilizers and pesticides, soil regenerates from unharvested plant parts, hemp growth is very fast ...) as for its strength and durability (hemp is antibacterial and very resistant: formerly used for making boat ropes). Then, to give a more graphic look to the cylindrical containers, I opted for the use of cut wood backs.
Are there other textiles that hemp would you like to explore?
All plant materials attract me, flax, hemp, bamboo, sisal ... So the finest thread to make delicate weaves, the most robust plants for plaiting.
Photo credits: © Chic & Basta.
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