The City of Tapestry
Robert Four Manufacture, The City of Tapestry, short video documentary produced by Made in Town
In order to promote the know-how and characteristics of the tapestry from Aubusson, the county town of the French region of Creuse, Made in Town conducted a series of three documentary videos at the request of the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie et de l'Art tissé [International City of Tapestry and Woven Art], in partnership with the Institut Français de la Mode and with the support of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès.
The origins of tapestry weaving in Aubusson date back at least to the 15th century. The weaving technique, which has been passed down locally for generations, is referred to as the “low warp”, since the warp is woven horizontally on the loom, as opposed to the “high warp”, in which the warp is woven vertically on the loom.
The weaves, whose size can vary, are mainly used for the making of hangings with decorative and isolating properties or the upholstering of the base/foundation and the back of a seat.
The Aubusson tapestry peaked at the time of the royal manufactories, whose development was fostered by the state economic policy led by Jean-Baptiste Colbert under Louis XIV. The most characteristic style – and the most often linked to Aubusson tapestry – is called “verdure”. It emerged as early as in the 16th century and depicts lush landscapes and flourishing branches which helped to build an international reputation for Aubusson tapestry.
In the 19th century, the golden age of industrialisation, the quality and originality of Aubusson tapestries declined. But in 1939, French artist Jean Lurçat revived this art when he invented a set of cartoons – called “cardboards” – which would make the traditional technique and esthetics evolve.
Since 2009, the technique of Aubusson tapestry has been inscribed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2010, the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie et de l'Art tissé was founded in Aubusson. Its mission is to enhance the image of both historical and contemporary tapestry, and to perpetuate the transmission of know-how and techniques.
In spring 2014, three videos were shot by the in-house training department of the Institut Français de la Mode in partnership with Made in Town, as part of a workshop which was set up for around ten apprentice weavers from Aubusson.
Directed by Pascal Gautrand and Cédric Balaguier, they are part of a triptych exploring the past, present and future of Aubusson tapestry, as well as the cultural and technical specificities of the crafts they are associated with. Thanks to a series of accounts from Patrick Guillot, independent artisan weaver; Marion Lozach, artisan weaver and founder of Maudite Licorne workshop; and workers from the Robert Four Manufacture; these short documentaries tell the story and reflect the various points of view about the techniques, the evolutions and the transmission of know-how.
This project, sponsored by the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie et de l'Art tissé in Aubusson, received the support of the Limousin Regional Council, Creuse General Council, Creuse Great South Community of Municipalities and Fondation d'entreprise Hermès.
Co-direction: Pascal Gautrand and Cédric Balaguier
Image, sound and post-production: Cédric Balaguier
Co-production: Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie et de l'Art tissé, Fondation d'entreprise Hermès, Institut Français de la Mode, Made in Town and New Wave Production
Date of production: 2014
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