Led by artist Françoise Dupré, Couture is an art project that investigates drawing and stitching are performative act of memory.
Couture brings together concerns about identity, materiality and memory. Tapping into her French working-class background and the social and global history of textile; inspired by her mother’s school stitching exercises and her collection of fabrics/tissus, the artist reconfigures plain sewing stitches, printed and woven fabric motifs to create drawing and stitch artworks in the form of temporary installations.
For Dupré, stitching is a site of memory where traces of experiences connect through time, space, cultures. A threshold, a portal, a temporary event, where stitchers connect. To paraphrase artist Pierrette Bloch (1928-2017), beyond order and repetition and the near nothingness of the thread, there is “ a labyrinth….I believed I found a thread, [but] I have found memories” (Pierrette Bloch, Mailles et mailles de crin: mémoires, 1982, Dupré’s own translation).
Couture began in late 2016. The website documents this ongoing project. Distinct elements are developed on separate pages.
Tracing Lace, 2016-17, focuses on the series of drawings based on lace and and embroideries from family archive, acquisitions and gifts.
Paulette et Jacques, 2018, centres on two installations à l’anglaise (Madeira) and Tissu provençal. They combine drawings and stitching with objects, and textiles from the artist parents’ home in France.
plain sewing, focuses on stitches used for mending/raccommodage and introduces the artist stitching process through individual works and installations made in 2018 and 2019.
Courtepointe‘s starting point is the provençal printed fabric, often used by the artist’s mother in her home. It is a printed cotton with a single floral repeat motif, originally imported from India in 17th century, then printed in France.
Photographs © Carl Fox Photography or Françoise Dupré
Images © Françoise Dupré Archive
Françoise Dupré is a French artist, an independent researcher and curator. Currently based in Orléans, Loire Valley, France; she trained at University of the Arts London (Chelsea and Camberwell Colleges). Until 2018, she was a Fine Art senior lecturer and researcher at Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham City University, England.
Between 2003 and 2016, Dupré successfully developed a collaborative-participatory model of art making in the social, working mostly with women groups, using textile for its plasticity and sociability, its cultural specificity and transnationalism. Her socially engaged practice and strategic use of textile are discussed in her 2014 published chapter From Brixton to Mostar, social practice through textiles – in Cultural Threads edited by Jessica Hemmings.