Since 2009, the designer and maker Clivia Nobili has settled down in Lille and has discovered the world of work through her collections in workshop-boutique.
For her, “Clothing is as much an unwavering testament to human adventure as a companion to our body in our day to day lives”. Today, the codes of 20th century popular culture, which have been engraved in our collective memory, have nourished her aesthetic. Her Authentique collection transforms authentic pieces of workwear: a builder’s jacket, a painter’s coat, workwear trousers, into a particular blue, the ‘Clivia Nobili’ blue.
Bleu à Tisser (weaving blue)
This installation is the fruit of serendipity. At the end of the confinement, Clivia Nobili realises that, ‘her blue’ is produced outside of the European Union.
Whilst in residence at the Eco-museum in Avesnes, she meets a weaver from the region, Monsieur Leprêtre. Then, within the framework of a recovery plan, the ministry of culture launches a call for projects called Mondes nouveaux (new worlds).
From this stems the idea of reintroducing weaving of this particular blue in northern France to eventually take total control of production.
Thanks to financing from the ministry of culture, the idea moves onto the research phase, then filming and finally to the birth of the new fabric with which the collection Collector Authentique is made, 100% a Northern creation. The entire work, materialised by the installation Blue à Tisser, is presented in the majestic chapel of the Hospice Countess, a place of regional remembrance. Next, it will be presented at the Eco-museum in Avesnes in March.
The exhibition can be broken down into three stages: deconstruction, reconstruction, the birth of the new blue. If these three stages are obviously connected, they can be approached in one way or another, exactly like choosing to go all the way back to the thread or directly choosing to go to the finished fabric.
Stage 1 Deconstruction/re-weaving the canvas
It all begins with the thread. To create the correct blue, it is important to know where it comes from.
It is a living fabric and the soul of what’s inside has to be found. As the fabric is stripped, the item of workwear is stripped of its purpose.
What do we learn? Technically and societally?
Studying the structure of the fabric allows for us to creatively free ourselves. If the structure is fair and ethical, the creation is authentic.
The project involves a human challenge, in the form of popular memory.
Stage 2 Reconstruction/weaving connections
It is necessary to deconstruct to better reconstruct.
What do we choose to showcase? Values, people’s skills, the love for the fabric. We re-weave, we start again, we weave the connections; connections between the skills of participating artists and artisans. The weaving of talents makes the physical weaving of fabric possible.
Stage 3 The birth of the new blue and the production of the Authentique Collector collection
Once the fabric is taken off the machine, it is transformed, creating a symbolic collection.
The scenography is a hint at the ‘hanging room’; where miners would hang up their workwear for it to dry: patterns and iconic pieces from the collection surround the screen and the draping creates an intimate space to feel closer to the fabric.
As explained by Jacques Derrida, the term ‘deconstruction’ involves both destruction and construction. Although this may seem impossible, when a piece of fabric is cut up to make another one, the destruction of the old piece and the construction of the new piece are simultaneously accomplished.
We have come full circle. The canvas has been delivered, the Blue has been woven.
Cut a thread and take it with you!
This blue thread symbolises the connection between artists and artisans.
Weaving Blue, 2022
Video, 7’13 on repeat
Realisation: Alexandre Humbert
Voice: Clivia Nobili
Edits: Lou Hacquet-Delepine
Original composition: Arnaud Pujol
Designing the right workwear
Clivia Nobili: “I do my job because I want to meet the person I call the inhabitant, meaning he or she who inhabits the item of clothing I design.”
May 1968 manifestation in Paris ‘Roger Viollet’
25th September 2022
40 bis rue Saint-André in Lille