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Severine Gallardo is a soft sculptor from Angoulême France. Her needle felted headgear are impressive works of storytelling as well as textile engineering!
Severine’s work takes a cue from Native American headwear to explore the connections between the real world and the ethereal realms of dream and story. Having studied Fine Art, she brought textiles into her work more recently as a recognition of the discord between “fine” art and fabric and a desire to explore the space.
Where do you think your creativity is taking you?
I really don’t know where it is taking me. I just know that it takes me somewhere else, and I love that because it is helping me to live my life. I have also the intuition that it is not coming from me but it is rather something that I try to catch.
What other artists inspire you?
Many artists inspire me. There are a lot of textiles artists, Roman art, Antique art, Primitive art, Folk art, Architectures. It is a mixture of all this.
Can you share one creative tip with our readers?
I think that there is a little trick to progress in textile. You select a detail of an artwork (drawing, painting, paper cut) from an artist you really like, and then you try to adapt it in textile, this forces you to find solutions and therefore to create your own techniques.
How did your technique evolve?
I adapt my technique according to what I want to tell. I have a lot of fun trying different things in textiles.
Have you discovered limits on the size of the pieces you can make?
Not yet, the only limit is the balance. So it suggest new questions. How to wear it on the head ? How to move when you have this kind of things on your head ? That’s why I am a lot inspired by the women who are carrying water, or other things on their head. There are a lot of women in Africa or in Asia who are doing that. I admire their courage and they are a source of inspiration for me.
And have you developed any interesting engineering approaches for working with large scale felt?
I buy thick felt for houses insulation for the structure, then I use needlefelt, and embroideries.
In a recent Arte Morbida interview, you mentioned the reference to Native American headwear and the connection between the sky and the earth, and it got me thinking that your hats are almost like tangible expressions of the interface between the awake world and the dream world, or the conscious and the unconscious.
Yes, I have mentioned the reference to Native American and you’re perfectly right. It is a connexion between the Sky and Earth, the visible and the invisible. Traditionally the headdresses are use to “connect” the human to another world during ritual ceremony. And it is exactly what is interesting me. It is also the narrative theme of each headdresses I make. I am a lot inspired by traditional representation in old churches (Coptic, Orthodox, Roman, Gothic) and also old manuscripts. I really love ancient Persian and medieval manuscripts. I love also traditional textiles techniques you can find among the Berbers, Hmong, also in the Kochi people from Afghanistan, Yoruba from Nigeria, the pattern from Iran or Mongolia for example. I haven’t travelled to these countries because of the political context sometimes and also because I don’t specially like tourism. So I take my inspiration in books, libraries, websites or museums where I have discovered these magnificent masterpieces. I just admire what has already been achieved and I reinterpret them. It is my way of paying homage to all these creations.
There’s so much to like about Severine’s work. It pushes at boundaries, not only in terms of form, but of content. There is so much narrative within each piece, as the story erupts upwards towards the heavens, or maybe is sent down to the wearer, and yet Severine manages to maintain the function of the piece through some very technical engineering.
Severine’s work is playful and beautiful. It is whimsical yet highly thoughtful. It is headgear but it is fine art. It will keep you guessing and I take my hat off to Severine for her creativity and fearlessness. Visit her Tumblr to enjoy more of her work and on Instagram.