Elisabeth Lecourt – London
The French-born, London-based artist Elisabeth Lecourt handcrafts garments from an unusual material. They aren’t the kind of clothes that are meant to be worn. Instead, they lay like delicate statues, as unique as the maps they are created from. Lecourt’s project, “Les Robes Géographiques,” is meant to help us discover and navigate not only the world, but also our place within it. Drawn to what she refers to as the “poetic” nature of maps, she hoped to use maps as a “blueprint to the soul.” One look at these colorful geographical dresses, and BANGSTYLE was left searching for more. We spoke with Lecourt about her project and discovered there’s much more to maps than getting from A to B. Check out the interview below!
BANGSTYLE: Where are you from? How did you decide to become an artist?
Elisabeth Lecourt: I am from a little town called Oloron St Marie, surrounded by mountains on the French side of the Spanish-French border of the Pyrenees. I was born on the 31st of December during an earthquake, and the church by the hospital caught fire; my mother thought we will never make it.
I think I was born an artist and never had too many ideas about what else to do apart from having my own clothes shop. I used to install my mother’s and my own clothes in my bedroom, where everything was well folded, sorted out by colors and materials, with price tags and even sales items on the rack.
BANGSTYLE: How do you approach each new project?
Elisabeth Lecourt: It’s a need to play. It is a reassuring way to be in your own world. It’s like when you play as a child with your dolls, and you imagine all kind of secret stories for yourself, wild or plain. You then make things happen.
BANGSTYLE: You started working with maps for your “Les Robes Géographiques” series. Why did you choose to use maps?
Elisabeth Lecourt: I use the maps as I used paper before to make other dresses, like a portrait of people through their clothes, like a blue-print of their soul. I like paper as a material for its fragility and its ephemerality. Maps are charged with so much intriguing and complex details, sometimes true, sometimes wrong. That’s what I like about maps; they look very specific, but they are very poetic.
BANGSTYLE: Can you explain the process of these paper dresses?
Elisabeth Lecourt: I found maps I love, and I get very excited to use a scalpel like a surgeon to cut and reshape the map, making a dress out of it. I cut, fold, and put everything together.
BANGSTYLE: You say that your work explores “sensitivity and vulnerability.” How do you explore these themes in your “Les Robes Géographiques” project?
Elisabeth Lecourt: The dresses suggest our childhood and our body, questions also our place here down on earth. I think that is where the “sensitivity and the vulnerability” appear.
BANGSTYLE: From the maps to handkerchiefs, you frequently create using unusual materials. Why do you choose these alternative canvases?
Elisabeth Lecourt: My mother use to take me to auction houses as a child, and she was always buying things from the past like old crocodile handbags, early century sleeping gowns, fur scarf, felted hats, old rock sacks, and wooden shoes. She would then put them in the attic in a trunk and never touch them. I guess now she was probably buying them for us, but she never said so. I guess this was my world then, and it does follow you all your life, especially I loved dressing up. I was also inspired by Louise Bourgeois, Annette Messager, and Joseph Beuys who all use materials to express themselves. Materials are simply charged with emotions, and found objects are the same.
BANGSTYLE: You currently live and work in London. What is the art scene like there? How does London inspire your art?
Elisabeth Lecourt: I am quite far from London’s art scene. I never go to private views so I can’t really comment. But London gives me the energy to work, and I love this city.
BANGSTYLE: What is your dream collaboration?
Elisabeth Lecourt: Working with the French artist Sophie Calle; her projects are funny, weird, and insane. I love her vision.
BANGSTYLE: What is your proudest accomplishment so far as an artist?
Elisabeth Lecourt: To be able to be myself, to be able to support me and my daughter with my work.
BANGSTYLE: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
Elisabeth Lecourt: Being a shepherd in the mountains, making sheep dresses and spinning the wool.
BANGSTYLE: Do you have any exhibitions coming up that you would like BANGSTYLE readers to know about?
Elisabeth Lecourt: I have an exhibition coming up in Paris in November. Please come along!
BANGSTYLE: What are your hopes for the future?
Elisabeth Lecourt: Expressing myself even more and doing work which touches people.