After years of mutual admiration, textile artist Pierre Fouché met fellow artist Pierre Le Riche through a mutual friend – and when the Trenery Guild project came along, it was the perfect opportunity for them to work together and complement each other’s work.
Fouché started exploring lace-making in 2009, but it has grown to define his artistic practice to the extent that his work has been curated into international museum exhibitions.
He is working on a large-scale installation for the Spier Foundation and, in mid-2018, will teach a masterclass in the UK on bobbin lace-making.
Le Riche is an emerging artist whose work is increasingly visible on the local scene, with recent exhibitions at Salon91 in Cape Town and at various art fairs, and next year at the Woordfees in Stellenbosch.
Fouché achieved his master’s in fine art at the University of Stellenbosch in 2006, while Le Riche recently completed his master’s in fine art at Michaelis School of Art.
Together they have created a beautiful installation inspired by Trenery’s limited-edition capsule collection called Trenery/Edit.
The work, which talks to Trenery’s commitment to superior yarns and natural fibres, is a series of weaves spun with merino and cotton in the Trenery/Edit collection’s sophisticated colour palette of navy, grey and pink.
It is on display in the windows of the V&A Trenery store in Cape Town from mid-February until the end of March.
How did you get involved in textile art?
Fouché: I trained as a sculptor, but early in my career I fell in love with thread and its endless possibilities of manipulation.
Le Riche: I experimented with yarn during the final year of my visual arts degree and loved working with it so much that I ended up building a massive installation incorporating almost 20km of thread!
Since then, textiles have played a large role in my artistic practice, and I find myself incorporating fibre elements in almost all the art I make: from small, intricate embroideries to quilts, knitted pieces and more elaborate spanned thread installations.
What inspires you and your art?
Fouché: At the moment I feel the call of nature pulling stronger than any other impulse. Our place in this world is more precarious than we imagine and it is imperative to live differently and to advocate attractive sustainable ways of doing so.
How has your practice changed over time?
Fouché: I’ve learned to allow mistakes; I’m learning to trust my intuition more and more. I’m learning to think like a painter, and it is liberating.
Le Riche: My practice used to be mainly introspective – and to a certain extent it still is – but it is more an exploration of what it means to be living in South Africa right now.
What is the most important tool in your studio?
Fouché: It happens to be my favourite too: a pair of black embroidery scissors that my partner bought for me from a Vivienne Westwood display in London a few years back.
Is there a specific thread or fabric that you enjoy working with the most? Why?
Fouché: Silk. It is the most sensual thread. From a practical point of view, it is versatile and strong: silk floss spreads out to fill in a cloth weave, while compressing to micron widths in open lace stitches. Aesthetically it feels soft and delicate, yet it has an opulent appearance. It manipulates light to the extent that it appears lit from within. It is magnificent on all levels.
What do you try to communicate through your art?
Fouché: On one level I am promoting the idea of slowness. That real luxury is not linked to any particular brand, but to quality of craftsmanship and time.
Le Riche: Mostly how uncertain I feel about everything most of the time.
What does the Trenery Guild mean to you?
Fouché: An incredible opportunity to showcase the incredible talent that South Africa has to offer. I am honoured to represent a lesser-known craft.
Le Riche: The Trenery Guild is about the celebration of excellent craftsmanship, and to me it is exactly that: the magic that happens when craftsmanship and fine arts come together.
The Fouché and Le Riche installation will be displayed in the V&A store window for four weeks from February 15. A limited-edition gift with purchase will also be available for customers alongside the activations at standalone Trenery stores nationwide. For more information, visit trenery.co.za/treneryguild.
Read more about Trenery and the Trenery Guild here.
This article was paid for by Woolworths Trenery.