Severine Gallardo, French fiber artist originally from Angoulême, graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Marseille in 2000, but not in disciplines regarding textiles. In fact, as she herself says, the study of these subjects was not at all encouraged by art schools.
The encounter with threads and fabrics took place thanks to the precious know-how transmitted to her by her grandmothers since childhood and was the starting point of what later on became an artistic path based on the language of textiles that refers to the traditional techniques of felting, embroidery and knitting.
In 2007 the artist also founded, together with Franck Guyon, the publishing house Marguerite Waknine for which she manages the collection Le Cabinet de Dessin.
Here is the link to her website:
“Parure Oiseaux”, 2019, photo Claudie De Fonté, copyright Severine Gallardo
Your works mainly consist of multiform and colorful knitted masks and felt and embroidery sculptural headdresses. Why these two objects in particular? What do they represent?
In order to precisely answer the question, I would quote Claude Levi-Strauss:
“However, in the thought of the American Indians and probably elsewhere, the headgear fulfills the function of mediator between the top and the bottom, the sky and the earth, the outside world and the body. It plays an intermediary role between these poles; it unites or separates as appropriate.”
“Franck”, 2015, knit, pearls and needles, copyright Severine Gallardo
“Franck”, 2015, copyright Severine Gallardo
“Architecture”, 2016, embroidery, padding, crocheted wire, photo Elske Haller, copyright Severine Gallardo
“Severine”, 2018, copyright Severine Gallardo
In the path taken to become an artist was there an event, a project or a person fundamental for your professional growth?
Naturally, there is the unfailing support as well as the critical eye of Franck Guyon who has always supported me.My two grandmothers, Noëlline and Arlette who taught me to knit and crochet.
And all the diversity and richness of art that inspires me deeply.
The artists, Nathalie du Pasquier, Louise Bourgeois, Sonia Delaunay, Nick Cave, and many others, folk art, the art of Africa and Oceania. The know-how of Iran, Mongolia, Berber, Egypt etc.
“Severine”, 2017, photo Regis Feugère, copyright Severine Gallardo
Severine, in 2007 you created, together with Franck Guyon, the publishing house Marguerite Waknine. How was this project born?
Does being an artist influence the choices you make as a publisher? How?
When Franck Guyon and I met, we decided to combine our backgrounds (he is graduated in literature and philosophy and I in art), in order to build a common project around books. Why books? Because we liked the idea of making an object and broadcast it.I am a publisher specializing in drawings and indeed there is a real link between drawings and textiles. Many textile works have for theme a pictorial representation, and patterns are also present in textile.
Being an artist allows me to have patience and to give artists the time necessary for their book project to mature.
Severine, in addition to exhibiting your work in museums and art galleries, sometimes you put on real shows. Can you tell us about the performance Exposition Parade of 2019?
I was invited by a young and talented curator, Karen Bar, to present my work and I chose to make a real show.
Each headdress takes me a long time to make. Performance brings my work to life. I love the almost paranormal spirit of this moment.For the Parade exhibition, Karen put me in touch with burlesque dancers from the Lally cooler burlesque troupe based in Angoulême where I live. It was a great experience and an unforgettable collaboration.
Performance Exposition Parade 2019, photo Alain François, copyright Severine Gallardo
When did we get rid of Grandma’s doily? In other words: when did knitting, crochet or embroidery become a way of making art? How did this cultural evolution happen?
I think it is more a complex movement than an evolution. I think that it comes from the way you look at the world. Grandma’s doily is art. The time spent making the doily, even if it seems to be “old-fashioned” is an art. What is changing today is the way we look at this practice. And the fact of being interested in it allows to have fun with the codes and to hijack them.
“Severine”, 2018, embroidered felt, knit cutted and stitched capsule of wine bottles, photo Franck Guyon, copyright Severine Gallardo
“Vase Ocean”, 2020, photo Claudie De Fonté, copyright Severine Gallardo
“Vase Grec”, 2020, photo Claudie De Fonté, copyright Severine Gallardo
“Trois Hommes”, 2020, photo Claudie De Fonté, copyright Severine Gallardo
How is your series of fiber’s objects made with old pictures born?
I thought of this series as a kind of recreation. I always spend a lot of time working on one piece. I wanted to create small samples and combine with drawings.Then in a second step, I added old photos found on flea markets, a sort of homage to the missing, to the dead. Because even if my headdresses are colorful, they are also directly connected to an invisible and spiritual world.
“Totem”, 2017, copyright Severine Gallardo
“Totem”, 2018, copyright Severine Gallardo
“Totem”, 2017, copyright Severine Gallardo
What are you working on in this period? Would you like to tell us about your current projects?
Currently I am working on a new headdress. This headdress is made up only of pearls and embroidery. This time I particularly like to play with pattern.
For this project I am influenced by the art of the Bamiléké, Cameroun and Nathalie du Pasquier (Memphis Group) for the patterns.
I started to work at this project at the beginning of June and I think that I will be done in December.