Line Dufour saw a weaving loom in a display at a craft store and somehow knew that the universe would align to make it an important part in her life. Tapping into issues that she finds troubling, Line works in series creating pieces that evoke emotions. She notes that “you can’t touch other people, if your work is not arousing your own emotions”.
Line creates tapestries that engage viewers and evoke an emotional and meaningful place in them. Using social issues as a springboard, she also has spearheaded several initiatives that involve building community. Line’s work is varied, the result of much thought and intention to reflect joy, connection and care.
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
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I’ve always been inclined to be artistic and creative. However, when I was about 21, I saw a weaving loom in the display window of a craft store, and as the Carole King song goes, “I felt the earth move under my feet, I felt the sky tumbling down.” Though I had never seen a weaving loom before, the universe was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me to pay attention, that this was going to play an important role in my life. At the time, I was struggling financially and couldn’t see how I was going to bring this piece of equipment and weaving practice into my life but I had faith in the universe/god that if it was meant to be, it would happen. It was another seven years before I moved towards this vision of weaving. I enrolled in art college and I was on my way.
There were many times over the years when I tried to deny my artistic and creative drive, but every time it became clear to me that even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do, that I wanted to be like ‘a normal person’ it was what I needed to do. Therein lies the key to persevering in one’s art practice. It’s a necessary part of one’s daily life.
Do you do series work? How does that affect your approach?
Art college training teaches you to work in series and I think that even without that training, its somewhat intuitive for me. As I’m creating something, more ideas come to me regarding other possibilities for the project. Each piece made, results in more ideas derived from it. It’s a natural progression if you are trying to explore possibilities and you realize the possibilities are infinite. I not only work in series, but I also sort my initiatives into ‘projects’.
Tell us more about Fate Destiny and Self Determination. How did that exhibit come about? What was your inspiration?
When social media first emerged in the 1990s I was very reluctant to use it. At the same time, I was feeling increasingly lonely in the studio, isolated in my practice. Tapestry weavers don’t live next door, and often not even in the next town. The other thread that had woven itself into my thoughts was the historical manner in which tapestries were created – that is to say, many weavers wove one tapestry, and were not necessarily the artist who created the image. Tapestry establishments like Dovecot, Aubusson, Gobelin, the Australian Tapestry Workshop, and many more, still produce tapestries this way.
All these threads of thoughts were stitching themselves into my ideas until I had an aha moment. I realized social media could be used to create a tapestry virtually, by connecting to other tapestry weavers and (textile) artists around the world. The design itself for the main panels that bracket all the submissions had already been created and was pinned to my studio wall and it all fit together. An Ontario Arts Council Grant gave me the means to launch the initiative on social media and from that moment on I was inundated with submissions for the first five years. It is now in its tenth year and it’s going into its 14th exhibition.
What different creative media do you use in your work?
Besides tapestry and fabric weaving, I also use photography, watercolour painting, printing, embroidery, sewing, Photoshop. More recently I have been exploring papermaking. I am also a published writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
How does your environment influence your creativity?
My environment is definitely important to me, and the most important element is having nature close by. The people in my environment that I interact with also influences my work – interacting with other artists, and seeing art exhibitions are part of that aspect.
If we asked a good friend of yours to describe your work, what would they say?
I thought this was the best question of all and I decided to ask my friends. It was very enlightening and encouraging to get their responses.
My friend Scott Ford said that “because your work is so diverse, that’s a hard question to answer…but the three words that keep coming back to me are joy, connection and care because there is so much thought and intention behind what you create.”
Rosaleen Rutledge said it was remarkable, inspired, unique, innovative, authentic and draws one to reflect.
How do you make time for creating? Do you try to create daily?
I work in my studio daily. It’s my more than full time job.
Describe your creative space.
Lots of light. One of my studio windows faces into the boughs of trees, so I see birds coming and going often and it feels like a tree house! I have a large Leclerc tapestry loom, a small Ashford, a writing space, a painting/papermaking space. I set up ‘work stations’ for different projects, media, or various technical stages of whatever I am working on.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
I have a sketchbook for my different projects. I also write in a journal every morning as I’m having my cup of coffee. It definitely helps the creative process, helps you get clear about what is resonating for you, and about what you need to say, express or how to solve a technical issue, and/or rid myself of unhelpful thoughts that hamper creativity.
What plays in the background while you work?
If I really have to figure out things, or it requires my absolute attention, Silence. When its quiet I can hear my thoughts, my intuition loud and clear as well as the birds outside my studio window. When I’m weaving a tapestry, its as though my body automatically knows what to do, I hardly have to think about it, so then, I listen to audio books or podcasts. Weaving tapestry takes a lot of time, and I miss not being able to read all the books I want to.
How often do you start a new project?
Most of my projects take years to complete because there is an exploration period and this usually requires learning new (technical) information, being able to access the equipment needed, and then practicing to try to achieve some mastery with it.
Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
I have several projects on the go at one time, but rarely do I work on them all in a cyclical way. Knowing I have these other projects waiting for my attention, motivates me to get the one I’m working on done. I also find that what I’m working on is also affected by the seasons. In warmer weather, I paint, or make hand made paper, (things that I can take outside) whereas I find weaving best for the colder months.
Re-Collection is a multi-sensory installation comprised of 24 jacquard woven shrouds measuring approximately 20” x 26”. This series references the Shroud of Turin, and each shroud depicts the face of a child or young woman killed by a sexual predator in Ontario.
The term ‘shroud’ refers to a textile that” covers or protects an object”, usually a deceased human body. Shrouds were hand woven in a 3/1 herringbone twill or plain weave and with a natural fibre such as cotton, wool, or linen, an inexpensive easy way to produce cloth. In contrast, a series of jacquard woven shrouds were created. Historically, jacquard woven textiles were available only for the powerful and wealthy, but the project references this convention to honour the victims and their families.
Faces represented appear behind a veil. A veil is a textile that is semi-transparent through which we can see what is curtained behind it. It is often used in religious ceremonies to honour a religious object, space or person. It is frequently worn as an article of clothing or accessory, usually by a female and is intended to cover part of the head and/or face. The veil is both an object and word imbued with the sacred and the profane. The idea of holiness, sanctity, piousness, purity, humility and submissiveness, is often associated with the veil but it is also associated with being alluring. A veil can disguise or it can reveal; It can arouse, or can denote status. The veil is often referred to metaphorically as the curtain that separates us from the departed. The veils were inspired by Renaissance jacquard woven patterns. The weft is a UV activated thread that changes colour when exposed to UV rays, changing from white to a flesh tone, as though their spirit is reanimated and their presence is still with us.
‘Hidden Words’ is also a jacquard woven textile in which the viewer is invited to identify fifteen words that victims of sexual violence and assault use to describe their experiences when they engage the law to obtain some semblance of justice for the indignities they have suffered.
A sound component accompanies the installation as well as a braille installation that features all the names of the individuals represented in the shrouds. Jacquard cards were punched at the Fondazione Arte Della Seta in Florence Italy in a braille pattern and are displayed as a set, similar to a set of venetian blinds when closed.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and process of one of your works? How does a new work come about?
There are several ways a ‘project’ surfaces and usually several factors come together before it does.
Sometimes it’s a form that I’ve created with paper and is pinned on my wall that suddenly becomes exactly how a new idea should be expressed. Sometimes it emerges from a residency, or workshop.
Increasingly I’m finding that social and environmental issues are front and centre. When I look at the last five years of my work, such as the Recollection series, The World in Pieces, and the current tapestry panels I’m weaving, Plastic Oceans, emerged from issues that I found troubling.
Which part of the design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
My favourite part is of course, having a new idea that excites me, and then figuring out the details of what I’ll do, what techniques I’ll use, and what materials. The most challenging part of the process of creating an oeuvre, or a series, is the finishing and framing if required. I find that part laborious and mind numbing!
How does your formal art education help your work develop? Does it ever get in the way?
It’s made me more critical of my work, made me question why I am doing something. If something takes a lot of your time to create, especially in tapestry weaving, I really need to feel that there has to be very good reasons why this piece should be present in the world.
I agree that at times, art training can get in the way, because it can stop you dead in your tracks and not let you move forward with an idea that you feel excited about. Art College and university art training puts pressures on the artist to create something ‘contemporary’ or edgy or ‘out there’.
When I think about the kind of work done by other artists that are affecting, then I understand what I want my work to do. You can’t touch other people, if your work is not arousing your own emotions. Coming at your work from a genuine, authentic, place rather than trying to be ‘better’ than others, will always be more engaging for the viewer. And that is the key word…I want my work to engage the viewer, and touch them in a place that has meaning for them.
How has your work changed over time?
When I graduated from art college, I focused on making things that were intentionally more saleable and while that approach developed me technically, after a few years it no longer was motivating. I decided then that I would go into teaching to earn money, and then I could create work that I longed to create, and not make saleability the measure of its worth. I also began intereacting and collaborating with other artists, made my work issue focused and community based.
Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned?
I think everyone is creative in some way, some part of their life. Creativity is like any muscle in our body….it needs to be exercised. Some people are creative in their domestic or work day – for instance, they may be creative in cooking, gardening, child rearing or problem solving. The more you exercise your creativity, the more you use it in other parts of your life, and so, by using it daily, it gets stronger and stronger.
Where can people find your work?
I don’t have a regular commercial gallery representing me yet. People would have to go to my website www.linedufour.com. Or come to my studio. I don’t want to publish my address publicly but if someone is interested in visiting my studio they can email me at [email protected].
My installation Fate, Destiny and Self determination is presently being exhibited in Spain, and will be going to Turkey. The site of its exhibition is on my website. My tapestry The World In Pieces, is being exhibited at the Bienniale Internationale de lin du Portneuf in Deschambeault until October 1, 2023. The theme of this exhibition is No Fixed Address. Some of my more recent tapestries will be exhibited from July 20 to September 3, 2024 at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte Ontario Canada. This is a group tapestry exhibition.
Interview published July 2023
Browse through more weaving projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy.