LOVE LACE: le cœur dans tous ses états

Project Space
LOVE LACE: le cœur dans tous ses états
Isabelle Hémard
April 10, 2015 – May 9, 2015

The symbolic heart has always been a part of Isabelle Hémard’s work; a deceptively simple yet powerfully relatable and universally understood image. In childhood, the heart is an expression of the purest form of love and happiness. During adolescence, unrestrained love expressed with a knife carving of initials into wood. In our fully formed adult state, we question its relevance while embracing its varied reality and nostalgia. Hémard often expresses the symbolism of the heart through the patterns of weather in her work. The relationship of our emotions to the conditions in nature, expressed through rain clouds weeping tears, which transform into hearts. Hémard captures the turbulence of our own fragile emotions in the uncontrolled and changing state of our skies.

Hémard was raised by women who were also artisans. Their craft has been passed down to Hémard by instruction, example and inspiration. Last year, Hémard began re-visiting her own personal family collection of French “trousseau” pieces; monogrammed linens and silverware. Collected during a Frenchwoman’s early childhood for her by her family, they were presented to her upon her marriage. The items themselves reflected a woman’s wealth, her heritage and her culture, and proclaimed that she was a valuable and loved member of a family. Within these pieces, every intentional stitch, every imagined gesture of the hand that created it, connected Hémard once again to generations of women. Her aunt Céline, the seamstress, her grandmother, Gillette, the owner of a sewing school in Oran, Algeria and her mother who created the clothing she wore.

This was the inspiration and the heart of Hémard’s new project, Love Lace. This work has been a labour-intensive process of creating intricate prints using heart imagery. With each familiar, familial gesture of creation Hémard could feel the sense of belonging to family and her own history manifesting itself in the present by her own hands. The prints are made using linocut and hand cut Mylar as stencils, creating lace like pieces. Love Lace is a project about the love of creation. It is about family history and the ever present desire for happiness, fulfillment and regaining that unconditional sense of belonging that only family provides.

Isabelle Hémard (b. France) is a printmaker, photographer, motion/graphic designer who lives for visual stimulation. She studied Visual Arts at the École des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, a school situated inside a thirteenth-century mortuary. Every morning she woke up to the view of Claude Monet’s beloved cathedral. Hémard’s work is deeply influenced by her French upbringing, surrounded by history, culture and man-made beauty. In the early 1990’s she moved to Toronto and has been a member of Open Studio ever since. The recipient of several awards and grants, her work is permanently exhibited in Canadian Embassies throughout the world, Canadian Ministry offices as well in private and corporate collections.