Au Pays Des Brumes (2009)
2 x 1.4 m
Wool, cotton, silk, synthetic fibers
Sarah Perret is a tapestry weaver living in France. Her elaborate tapestries are ‘trying to find some comfort in the flow of time,’ and each one can take up to three years from finding the inspiration to weaving the last strand of wool.
Where are you based?
Since 1980, I have been weaving tapestries in my workshop. First in “Atelier de l’Ours” in Lyon and for the previous twenty years in “La Compagnie des Ours” at Montclar sur Gervanne in the countryside of the South of France.
What is your training in textiles?
Since I discovered the technique by mere chance at the Ecole d’Arts Décoratifs d’Aubusson, I wanted to make it mine. In the solitude of my improvised workshop, I was disciplined everyday to the achievement of the mastering the art.
What is it about tapestry weaving that appeals to you?
I chose tapestry because I think with materials and colours rather than drawings. The art of weaving has its own grammar which is the art of arrangement, of composition, with sounds, the natural beats from each material, each colour, and each pattern. The count of time is very important too, the slow daily progress soothes me.
How do you describe your work?
Trying to find some kind of comfort in the flow of time, I conceive tapestries as series. I have dug around the human body its disintegration, its disappearance, the fading image of the missing ones. In our society, death is a subject we try to avoid dealing with or representing. To take my stand against what cannot be amended, I have never renounced touching upon it in paths leading to atonement.
Where do you find inspiration?
It is in my humble daily task that I can find an answer; my one and only reply is in the very technique. I use simplicity, strict economy, and economy of means in each piece. There are always a few essential constraints: temporality, continuity, and distance, always farther away from the agitation, turmoil of the world.
Roughly how long does one of your pieces take from start to finish?
My tapestries are the fruit of books I have read and photographs I have pondered on. After choosing my theme, I read about it for a long time. Then, I decide what I will represent, I draw a quick sketch, the frame of the future piece with its proper dimensions. While setting the warp, I choose the colours and the materials, I fill up my workshop with that stock so that I will live among it, as long as I weave. I weave large pieces; textile needs room to express itself. My technique evolves with each piece, each one represents a challenge to take up, and consequently, I need more and more time for it. Three years or so are necessary for the whole process.
Has your weaving changed since you started?
It is essential that I need to have first the idea and some years later, to have realised it, in wool.
It is a slow construction which grows richer every day. It is a single creation and I have to weave it alone. Nothing has really changed in my production these last twenty years. It is the same need of weaving my patterns one after the other, drawing from my stock of material.
More of a practical question, but why do you choose to weave on a horizontal frame rather than vertical?
I weave basse lice because it is the technique I learnt and I bought a loom corresponding to it. But I have adapted that technique to my needs: I have always weaved on the right size so I can do all the work with the volume of material I want. I love the challenge proper to weaving without seeing the whole thing before the piece is finished.
What moment in your career are you most proud of so far?
The notion of pride is unknown to me. But the first time one of my tapestries was chosen for an international exhibit after all those years of assiduous weaving, I was happy to be able to show something accomplished, and to meet people sharing daily the same passion. It was in 2005 for Karpit 2 in Budapest.
Do you have any advice for aspiring textile artists?
Beginning and continuing to work in the textile field requires endurance for we do not find easily room for ourselves in the world of art. We have to warmly thank our nearest relatives, the ones who share our lives and allow us to work as freely as possible.
Sarah Perret has no social media presence. If you are interested in contacting her please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily pass on her details.