Some people love to love I adore to adore… I'm a French Canadian artist of Canadian-American heritage, hence my (minor) dilemma on whether I should post in French or in English.

Il y a ceux qui aiment aimer, moi j’adore adorer. Étant une artiste québécoise ayant vécu sa petite enfance aux États-Unis, l'usage entrecroisé de l'anglais et du français va de soi.

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The Heart of the Matter by Daniel Vézina and Pascale Girardin, Montréal en Lumière Festival

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photo: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

Thursday, Feburary 20 and Friday, February 21, 2014 at the Laurie Raphaël restaurant, Montreal.

I am delighted to announce that, for this year’s Montréal en Lumière festival, chef Daniel Vézina of the Laurie Raphaël has invited me to partake in this culinary event as the restaurant’s guest artist. 

As part of the Planète Montréal Fine Dining program, The Heart of the Matter brings together ceramic design and gastronomy. Three miniature sculptures have been created for the event by Montreal artist Pascale Girardin and will serve both as a base and an inspiration for three hors-d’œuvres created by chef Daniel Vézina.

From the onset, I was drawn by the idea of creating a culinary experience where art and gastronomy would merge into a unique moment of communion. In the spirit of reciprocity, Daniel and I concentrated this singular experience around the aesthetic of pure forms, inspired by three of my favourite products.  These culinary constructions are to be served as interludes during the full course menu sets on February 20th and 21st.

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photo: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

 A chance encounter

I first met Daniel Vézina and his team from the Laurie Raphaël 10 years ago, at his Quebec City restaurant.  At the time, I had been commissioned to design various ceramic plates and table accessories as part of the new LR brand image launch. In those days, my culinary knowledge was limited to that of a gourmet and I knew next to nothing of the profession of head chef, the structure of a kitchen brigade, or the particularities of table service specific to haute cuisine. To better understand this distinct context, I immersed myself in a sensory world of fine dining where discipline and savoir-faire are tantamount.

Thanks to Daniel Vézina’s vision, generosity and passion for his work, I developed a deeper understanding of this beautiful and ephemeral art form.  To have someone prepare a meal that is both memorable to the senses and to the soul is a thing of beauty. By learning to pay attention to the infinite gestures that surround each service, I was able to construct and define my own style of tableware design.

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photo: courtoisie du Laurie Raphaël

An evocative approach

Daniel Vézina is a sensitive man.  His creativity, sophistication and generosity serve his art to perfection and are a testimony to his love for people. His passion and enthusiasm are infectious and find echoes in my own practice. Needless to say, working together on this project was delightful and our shared passion for experimentation and play resulted in an effortless and elegant collaboration.

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photo: courtoisie du Laurie Raphaël

The experience

Fine dining calls for a meticulous presentation, a staging of sorts that sets the tone for a memorable culinary experience. Haute cuisine etiquette differs from one restaurant to another, yet the sequence remains the same: aligned dishes under the passe-plat leave the kitchen for the table with diligent timing; subsequently, guests contemplate each dish set before them, their senses aroused by the emerging aromas and visual presentation.  This pause calls forth the notion of the sacred – that of eating in communion with others. For a while, time loses all meaning.

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photo: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

A souvenir

At the crossroads between the ephemeral experience of dining and the permanence of ceramics, Daniel and I’s paths intertwine.  What remains after the feast is a small keepsake sculpture, a souvenir of this unforgettable evening.  

On February 20th and 21st, I look forward to welcoming guests at this event both during the midday and evening meals.

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photo: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

Event Schedule for Thursday and Friday 20 - 21 2014 

Menu « Vision » 7 services - From 6:30 pm

Created by Daniel, this menu includes a signed miniature sculpture by artist Pascale Girardin to take home

120 $, before wine (taxes et service not included)

190 $, with wine (taxes et service not included)

Menu « Vision midi» and temporary exhibit – From noon

Created by Daniel Vézina and inspired by Pascale Girardin’s miniatures sculptures served on your plate.

A temporary exhibit of Pascale Girardin’s art will be on site in the Hotel Le Germain lobby in Montréal.

39 $, before wine (taxes et service not included)

Reservations

Tel.:  514 985-6072

Laurie Raphael (in the mezzanine of the Hotel le Germain)

2050, rue Mansfield, Montreal, QC, H3A 1Y9

Acknowledgements

I would like to give special thanks to Suzanne Gagnon, Daniel Vézina’s spouse and co-owner of the Laurie Raphaël, for her vision and extraordinary enthusiasm for this project. Her ability to channel the energy of two creative minds while ensuring the successful coordination and realization of this fabulous project is remarkable! Thank you, Suzanne. As for Daniel, working with you always feels like play, as both our natures get “in the zone” with joy and ease.

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photo: Julien Cloutier-Labbé 

Finally, I would like to thank my studio team for supporting me in the production of these miniatures and my family, for allowing me to create everyday in a warm and lively atmosphere. Maud Beauchamp, Agathe Palavioux, Christian David, Christian Roy, Annie-Cécile Tremblay, my mother and my step-father Suzanne and André Bégin as well as my son Wolfe Girardin, you are all truly amazing!

Au centre de la matière avec Daniel Vézina

Festival Montréal en lumière, jeudi 20 février et vendredi 21 février 2014 au Restaurant Laurie Raphaël, Montréal.

imagephoto: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

À l’occasion du Festival Montréal en lumière, j’aurai le très grand honneur d’être reçue en tant qu’artiste invitée par le chef Daniel Vézina du restaurant Laurie Raphaël

Dans le cadre du volet Planète Montréal, ce projet allie design céramique et gastronomie. Il se décline en trois sculptures miniatures qui serviront de socle et de support pour trois hors-d’œuvre créés par Daniel Vézina.

Dans un esprit de réciprocité et d’échange, Daniel et moi avons concentré cette expérience autour de l’esthétique des formes pures, sous le thème de trois de mes produits préférés. Ces constructions culinaires seront servies en guise d’interlude entre chaque plat lors des repas gastronomiques présentés les 20 et 21 février prochains.

imagephoto: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

Une rencontre déterminante

Il y a dix ans, je rencontrais pour la première fois Daniel Vézina et son équipe du Laurie Raphaël à Québec. J’avais été mandatée pour concevoir une vaisselle et des accents de table en céramique dans le cadre du lancement de la nouvelle image de marque LR, qui allait être inaugurée en 2005.

À l’époque, ma compréhension de la gastronomie se résumait à celle d’une simple convive. Je ne connaissais à peu près rien du métier de chef cuisinier, de la structure d’une brigade ou des particularités du service propres à la haute cuisine. Afin de mieux en saisir le contexte particulier, je me suis plongée dans cet univers des sens, de la créativité et du savoir-faire. La passion de Daniel Vézina, qu’il m’a transmise tout en me prodiguant son enseignement, a rendu mon expérience tout à fait édifiante. Depuis, mon souci de conjuguer ergonomie et esthétique définit mon approche du design des objets de la table.

imagephoto: courtoisie du Laurie Raphaël

La fusion de deux sensibilités

Daniel Vézina est un être sensible, doté d’une intelligence sensorielle et d’une grande créativité. Toujours au service de son art, son savoir-faire et sa générosité témoignent également, à travers son métier, de son amour des gens.

La passion et l’enthousiasme de Daniel Vézina sont contagieux. J’en ai trouvé des échos dans ma propre philosophie par rapport à ma pratique. L’expérimentation et la curiosité étant au cœur de nos activités, on imagine bien à quel point ce projet nous a animés et comment il a coulé de source !

imagephoto: courtoisie du Laurie Raphaël

L’expérience

Telle une pièce de théâtre qui doit être mise en scène, un repas gastronomique nécessite une mise en place. Elle donne le ton et nous prépare à vivre une expérience culinaire mémorable.

Le protocole entourant la haute gastronomie varie d’un restaurant à l’autre. Toutefois, la chronologie du service est immuable : les plats alignés quittent le passe-plat pour être portés à la table des convives au moment opportun. C’est à ce moment précis que les chemins se croisent entre l’expérience olfactive et l’expérience visuelle. Une pause est de mise tandis que chacun contemple les plats posés sur la table. Cet instant de recueillement nous ramène inéluctablement à la notion du sacré : celui dont est imprégné le geste de se nourrir en communion avec autrui. L’expérience est ainsi entamée et, l’espace de quelque heures, il n’y a que le moment présent qui compte.

imagephoto: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

Le souvenir

Entre l’éphémère et le permanent, nos tracés s’entrecroisent. Nos matières premières transformées par l’eau, l’air et le feu s’évanouissent une fois le repas consommé. Subsiste cette petite pièce de céramique que vous emporterez en souvenir de ce moment inoubliable. Je vous attends en grand nombre pour cet événement, car je serai présente lors des repas du midi et des soirées !

imagephoto: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

Horaire des Jeudi 20 février et Vendredi 21 Février 2014
Menu « Vision » 7 services - À partir de 18h30
Élaborés par Daniel et une oeuvre miniature signée par l’artiste Pascale Girardin pour emporter après le repas.
120 $, avant vins (taxes et service en sus)
190 $, incluant les vins (taxes et service en sus)
Menu « Vision midi» et exposition éphémère - À partir de 12h
Conçu par Daniel Vézina et inspiré des sculptures miniatures de Pascale Girardin disposées à même votre assiette !
Profitez également de l’occasion pour apprécier les oeuvres de l’artiste exposées au rez-de-chaussée de l’Hôtel Le Germain Montréal.
39 $, avant vins (taxes et service en sus)
Réservations
Tél.:  514 985-6072
Laurie Raphael (à la mezzanine de l’hôtel le Germain)
2050, rue Mansfield, Montreal, QC, H3A 1Y9

Remerciements

Je tiens à exprimer ma gratitude à Suzanne Gagnon, copropriétaire et conjointe de Daniel Vézina, pour sa vision et pour son enthousiasme à l’endroit de ce projet. Savoir canaliser l’énergie de deux êtres créatifs tout en gardant le cap sur la coordination et la réalisation de ce fabuleux projet exige un réel talent d’équilibriste ! Merci, Suzanne. Quant à Daniel, je persiste à dire que je n’ai jamais l’impression de travailler lorsque nous réalisons des projets ensemble. Car notre activité relève toujours du pur plaisir : celui de se sentir « dans sa zone ».

imagephoto: Julien Cloutier-Labbé

Je termine en remerciant mon équipe d’atelier et mes proches, qui m’ont soutenue tout au long de la production de ces miniatures et plus encore! Vous me permettez de créer au quotidien dans une ambiance effervescente et chaleureuse. Maud Beauchamp, Agathe Palavioux, Christian David, Christian Roy, Annie-Cécile Tremblay, ma mère Suzanne Gaumond et mon “beau” père André Bégin, ainsi que mon fils Wolfe Girardin, vous êtes tous très fabuleux!

Golden Kicks

A SHOE STORY

imagePhoto: Ginga Takeshima

Las Vegas, March 2008. Tired and exhausted after a long day installing an art mural inside the Mirage Casino, I stepped out to shop for Converse All-Star © sneakers. At the shoe store, I spotted a pair with an intriguing fingerprint pattern and bought them on the spot without trying them, as my shoe size hasn’t changed since my first purchase in 1978.

imagePhoto: Ginga Takeshima

New York, May 2009. I was walking down a busy Manhattan street when a man ran up to me, pointing at my feet: “ Excuse me! Excuse me!… Your shoes… I designed them !! ”.  Both R., an artistic director for an interior design agency in Miami, and I were passing through the city.  We exchanged our business cards, both happy to have met.

imagePhoto: Ginga Takeshima

Jingdezhen, November 2012. After spending 3 months wandering the dusty streets of the Sculpture Factory, working on a porcelain chandelier for a client in Shanghai, I realize that my poor sneakers are about to live their last days treading this earth.  I can’t imagine parting with them as they remind me of that day in New York meeting R.  My dilemma is resolved when I decide to mold and slip-cast them in fine porcelain.

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Upon my return home, I ship R.  a gold-plated pair.  Moved by this gift he tells me that they are his trophy, for all the work that went behind the designing of these Converse ©.

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YUL/SHA/JDZ 

THESE KICKS WILL BE SHOWN FOR THE FIRST TIME AT SOFA CHICAGO

NOVEMBER 1ST TO 3RD 2013

Pascale Girardin is represented by CREA Gallery - which showcases contemporary crafts from established, mid-career and emerging Quebec artists.  This year will be SOFA Art and Design’s 20th anniversary. Located in Chicago, Illinois, the international art fair is dedicated to sculpture objects, functional art and design. 

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Vases

Vases have always had an appeal for me.  Their stillness and subtle imperfections offer a place for my gaze to land.

imageimageJ’ai toujours aimé la forme d’un vase. La quiétude d’un profil légèrement assymétrique et la douceur d’une courbe sont des éléments qui m’interpellent encore aujourd’hui.imageimage (Photos: Ginga Takeshima)

Anthology I & II

Clement Restaurant, Peninsula Hotel NYC

imageimageThere are times when working on a public art project seems effortless and the final results reflect the seamless process of inspiration, concept, fabrication and installation.imageimageimage

Anthology I & II are perfect examples of this synchronicity.  Working with interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg, I was commissioned by  The Peninsula New York to make a series of sculptures for their soon to be opened Clement restaurant.

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At the time, Louise Nevelson was on my mind. I’ve always felt a deep connection with this American sculptor.  Working tone on tone, orchestrating rhythms and shapes into complex yet quiet compositions, her works struck a chord in me.

imageWhen the team at YP mentioned that they were looking to divide a room with a shelving unit, and would like me to propose something, I spontaneously stacked plates, bowls and vases from my studio, photographed them and sent the images to the design team, mentioning that this reminded me of a Nevelson gesture.  To my surprise, they had her work on their presentation documents, we were synchronous.

imageThe making of over 800 vases, plates and bowls took 5 months. Four wheel throwers relayed on the potters wheels and my regular studio team worked full-time on the glazing and firing of the pieces.  

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The installation went smoothly as we had prepackaged each composition into well-identified boxes.imageimageimageimage

 Anthology I & II pays hommage to pottery both as a craft and an art.

Many Thanks

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Recently, I had the honour of being commissioned to design the window displays for the Harry Winston store in Manhattan as well as for their stores, in Asia, Europe, Russia and the US.

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The floral artwork that I designed is an ode to Spring and to the sparkle of sunshine that strikes a chord in everyone’s heart as the season announces a new beginning.  Leaving behind my traditional white trademark, I wholeheartedly embraced the warm and joyous colors inspired by the Harry Winston Sunflower Collection, and glazed each flower with yellows, oranges, reds and antique roses.

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I am grateful for having such a great team here in my studio and to be able to transmit my knowledge and craftsmanship to both the up-and-coming and the accomplished ceramicists who work with me on my projects. 

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During the weeks spent at developing a technique to produce these flowers, I discovered that no matter how I was to explain the hand building method, each one would eventually develop their own twist to these delicately handcrafted petals and hearts.  Rather than insisting on having everyone make the flowers identical, I embraced the uniqueness that ensued, resulting in a naturalistic composition of over 300 intricate ceramic flowers.

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My studio is like an orchestra or a dance company, and my work is similar to that of a choreographer; encouraging some towards greater expression while I steer others to contain their wonderful exuberance.  The complexity of this orchestration inevitably results in the creation of compositions that are both vibrant and rich and consequently reflect the singularity and diversity of my lively troupe.

This being said, I would like to thank each and everyone who has worked on this amazing project : Agathe Palavioux, Maud Beauchamp, Christian David, Florent Lubienicki, Annie-Cécile Tremblay, Wolfe Girardin, Cynthia David, Christiane Paquin, Miho Inaba and Maude Langevin. 

The Way

Kyoto is quiet just before the new year.  Museums and galleries are closed. A perfect place to be for one who wants to wander aimlessly.image

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The city is rich with temples. Standing in front of an open door, I take my shoes off. I feel the coolness of the planks through my socks as I walk lightly up the wooden stairs.   I enter my first temple with a sense of being simultaneously grounded and elevated.  It is the way of the Buddha.

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Passing Through

Snowflakes are fluffing about Nijo Dori. I’m reminded of home and the first few signs of Montreal’s autumn farewell.

Nishiki Market is lined with fish stalls, wooden barrels filled with tsukemono (pickled vegetables), mochi cake stands and pastry boutiques on display.

Vendors cry out to customers as the crowd snakes up and down the covered street.

In the eve’s frenzy, there is no way out but through. I exit towards Nijo-Ochi and spot a welcoming place to rest my tired feet. Café Bibliotic Hello! (I know, cute name…) is just a few streets away from the bustling crowd and locals are hanging out for an afternoon tea and cake. 

The place feels a little like a Mile-End café minus the thick-bearded fellows. Books and magazines are stacked high against a wall. 60’s furniture meshes with traditional architecture.

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth but I’m feeling adventurous and order my first Mont Blanc, not knowing what to expect. It tastes like a bite of heaven.