I am lacking in eloquence today and struggling to describe how I felt the first time I saw Diane Bénézech-Schuh’s exquisite work. A sharp intake of breath, a feeling of connection with something timeless and poetic. Swimming in another realm with the mysterious giants of the sea, ancient, ancient life forms. Sirens, sea chanties, myths and storytelling. We are going on a little voyage with Diane, let’s meet at the oldest tree in Paris and see where the tide takes us!
Tell us a little about yourself, the media you work with and your creative process.
“I am a landscape-architect, or rather, one thing to another I became a landscape architect. In my work, I draw a lot and I think it is this aspect that I like the most. ?With a few friends, we founded La Quincaillerie, a way to escape from the routine of work.”
“?I tried to retrain as an illustrator, but it is a very difficult world to enter I guess. ?So, I thought why not draw on other media than paper.”
” It is the work of the designer of Mociun and especially the fall 2007 collection that made me want to draw on clothes. ?Right now I work with three different types of media: leather to make jewelry, wool with which I make spool knitting scarves and I paint on clothes. I cannot afford to screen-print my drawings, so it’s the best solution I have found so far. I like to spent time on painting though.”
From where do you draw your inspiration: music, books, people, nature etc?
“I am like a sponge, I’m inspired by everything that happens around me and with the proliferation of blogs and Etsy that I have just discovered there are so many sources of inspiration! ?My two strong influences are nature and the Native American and Inuit cultures. ”
“I like the idea that we could be strongly linked to nature and animals. The music of Joanna Newsom, Mariee Sioux and Animal Collective also inspire me at the moment. Whether the lyrics or the strong rhythms, close to shamanism (for animal collective I think) give me much energy.”
If you could talk briefly about the background to one of your pieces which would you choose and why? Tell us the story behind the piece.
“The Ancient seas blouse. I spent a lot of time on this blouse. I’ve always been fascinated by octopus and horseshoe crabs, these ancient animals that are mysterious and more intelligent than we want to believe.”
” I started to draw, and for no apparent reason I didn’t stop until the blouse was completely covered with drawings. I wanted to do a sort of “all-over”. I’d really like to repeat this kind of experience, but it takes a considerable amount of time. I guess I should really consider the screen-printing option…”
Thank you so much Diane for sharing a little piece of your world and inspiration with us. I really can’t begin to tell you just how much I love every single piece in the Hibou Caillou Chou collection. Diane is so supremely talented and has such an enviable sense of style. I am hoping that some of these attributes will rub off on me when I pull on my La Baleine Blouse or Oceans & Mermaids leggings. Diane has been invited to collaborate on some very exciting projects this year, I am very much looking forward to seeing the fruits of this work, I know that it will be outstanding. Thank you so much again Diane, I wish you and your soon to be expanded family so much joy and happiness.
Thanks to Diane and her work I have been inspired to begin re-re-reading Moby Dick. I read Melville’s masterpiece for a second time whilst I was pregnant with Ishi, for some reason it possessed a special resonance at that time. Just for the sake of it, there follows a passage from Moby Dick that Diane appended to her Etsy listing for La Baleine:
“On each soft side — coincident with the parted swell, that but once leaving him, then flowed so wide away — on each bright side, the whale shed off enticings. No wonder there had been some among the hunters who namelessly transported and allured by all this serenity, had ventured to assail it; but had fatally found that quietude but the vesture of tornadoes. Yet calm, enticing calm, oh, whale! thou glidest on, to all who for the first time eye thee, no matter how many in that same way thou may’st have bejuggled and destroyed before.”