MANUFACTURE ROBERT FOUR

THE TRADITIONAL AUBUSSON EMBROIDERY – ALSO KNOW AS «FLAT STITCH» OR «SHORT STITCH» – IS FITTED ONTO A BASSE-LISSE LOOM WITH A CARTOON TEMPLATE INSERTED INTO THE COTTON OR LINEN WARP TO GUIDE THE WEAVER(S). THE MAGICAL UNVEILING MOMENT OF THE TOMBÉE DE MÉTIER COULD REVEAL A CARPET, A TAPESTRY OR A WOVEN FURNITURE COVERING – WHO KNOWS WHICH?

These are precisely the French skills that UNESCO recently listed among its intangible cultural heritage, having produced an inventory of the ethically preserved values and techniques employed at the Manufacture Robert Four. Robert Four has also preserved La Savonnerie’s knotted-pile carpet technique, and remains the only producer with the skills and ability to weave specially commissioned items. Continuing the proud female tradition of this profession, craftswomen known as velouteuses teach and train a new generation of workers at the manufactory. In addition to this rare skill-set, more than fifty years of history have been illuminated by the vision of a modern-day weaver, a testimony to the dedication and love behind every act performed by this team of craftswomen, whether they are dyers, card makers, dressmakers, restorers, weavers or velouteuses. At Robert Four, every carpet and tapestry is woven as a unique work of art. Every new creation starts with a cartoon template, which is always produced by hand as it will act as a guide throughout the production of the hand-crafted work of art. Next comes the choice of yarns, colours, colour blends and dyeing techniques: plain, spotted, etc. A library of nearly 1000 colours is available, covering wool, silk, cotton, bamboo and others. The Aubusson name carries with it an artistic history stretching back centuries, which the Robert Four manufactory regards as its own personal history, while also embracing the contemporary art scene. On 11 July, at the Robert Four craft production factory in Aubusson, the tombée de métier of Pierre Marie’s first tapestry “Ras El Hanout” took place. In weaving jargon, the tombée de métier (English: «fall from the loom») is a magical, solemn moment when the completed work is detached from the loom on which it was produced, and the artist who sketched the cartoon and the craftsperson who worked with his/her hands are able to discover the fruit of their labour together. After seven months of weaving, the work that Pierre Marie patiently created in close cooperation with the Aubusson-based craft production factory was revealed on the banks of the river Creuse. In September, this tapestry will be revealed to the general public at two separate events. The first will be at the inaugural opening of Pierre Marie’s gallery in Paris on 6 September, on the fringe of Design Week, before heading for Italy: for as part of the Homo Faber exhibition, devoted to the essence of European craft professions, the Ras El Hanout tapestry will be on display at Venice’s Fondazione Cini between 14 and 30 September.