Stitching Life with its Ups and Downs – Céline Lepage
25th June 2020
Interview by Claire de Pourtales / Le Temps de Broder
With a seamstress as a grandmother and an interior designer as a grandfather, Céline grew up with all of the right influences to pursue textile arts. But it was only as a teenager that Céline discovered her true passion of embroidery.
After learning the basic stitches, she turned to Indian motifs with their incredible range of colours. It is this flamboyant palette that she has continued to use throughout her career.
While traveling through Turkey, Morocco and India, she kept an eye out for local textiles such as carpets, canvases, woven and/or embroidered clothes. All of these items became her primary sources of inspiration.
She took a workshop with Yann Lagoutte to learn about Glazig, a technique from Brittany which is full of arabesque-like shapes and bright colours. She went on to discover the work of Pascal Jaouen and Monik Paugam, both of whom have modernized this old technique.
Céline Lepage Tableau Atomic Circus (source)
Until recently, Céline drew her motifs on paper first before transferring them on to canvas. The colours would come as she stitched, developing her own, unique technique. This has caused her work to go through an interesting change over the past few months. She has now created a more personal palette and her confidence has grown to such an extent that she can now put her ideas straight on to the canvas.
‘I still research my ideas, but now I translate them on my canvas directly.’
She always listens to music when she works, with a taste for diverse artists and styles. As such, we can almost hear music in her embroidery, like an inner rhythm transformed into shapes and colours.
Esquisse Lueurs (source)
Céline still owns a large stock of fabric inherited from her father. She prefers furniture textiles over textiles for clothing and she’s always on the lookout for quality natural fibers, especially linen and cotton.
She likes to browse in flea markets for new materials as well as treasures such as old beads, threads, etc. She also likes trying new types of threads, and when she finds a thread she can use both with her needle and her Lunéville (Tambour) hook, she is in paradise!
Céline particularly enjoys threads by Steph Francis because of the range of colours they offer as well as one unusual factor – their smell.
‘I just love opening those packages – it is like an olfactory feast!’
Even though she has mastered many techniques, Céline still like to learn new ones. At the moment she is wanting to learn Goldwork embroidery.
Broche Impro (source)
She learns a lot from other embroiderers too, like Marrit Veenstra. This is despite that fact that Céline’s style couldn’t be more different from Marrit’s, since Marrit works predominantly in shades of black and white. However, when Céline discovered Marrit’s unique style, she felt the urge and the freedom to create her own universe.
Esquisse Brocorail (source)
Nevertheless, she does like to work with others in order to challenge one another and evolve together on a common project. She hopes to work with artists in the future who use other mediums too.
Esquisse Bleue 2 (source)
In February 2018, Céline decided to become an independent artist, which was a bit frightening. In order to live from her art, she also offers embroidery classes. Consistent with her own artistic evolution, she offers classes to students to learn how they can express themselves with a lot of freedom. She teaches them the basic stitches and helps them with technique, but she also encourages them to follow their own paths as individual artists.
Embroidery is becoming (or re-becoming!) a true art and a fine art.
This article was originally published on the French website ‘Le Temps de Broder’ and has been translated into English by, and appears with permission courtesy of, Claire de Pourtalès.