Pictures – Jessica Sirot / Au Fil des Secrets – the pictures are protected by copyright ©Au Fil des Secrets – thank you
Texte – Claire de Pourtalès
Three years ago, when her Grandmother died, Jessica Sirot, a French artist, took the plunge and became a professional embroiderer: “This death gave birth to me.”
Jessica came into her family at age 2, by adoption: “my life started then. I was born within threads and needles”. His father did extensive genealogical research. The oldest documents date back to 1724. At least since that date, there are professional embroiderers in every generation. In this family of the North, the men were mineworkers, the women embroiderers.
“I was the only granddaughter my Grandmother could teach to hold a needle. I made her very happy! I spent my childhood watching my Great-Grandmother, my Grandmother and my aunt embroider. The first embroidered in Lesage style, making sequin decorations, the second specialized in colored flowers and my aunt made bobbin lace, especially in black and white.
From the age of 9, I took full training with them. “
At 21, she finds herself the mother of a little boy to whom she in turn teaches these ancestral techniques. Now pregnant again, she hopes for a baby girl to pass on this heritage to her: “But she’ll do whatever she wants with it!” The daughter of her companion, 6, is already showing signs of great creativity. The inheritance may not be passed down through genes, but it is well on its way to reaching the 13th generation.
In 2018, after this grief that upset her deeply, Jessica decided to change everything. To reassure her mother, she had taken training as an auxiliary nurse and after a few years found herself in a forensic institute opening and reconstructing bodies: “I specialized in violent deaths and loved to reconstruct these people.”
She took a few months to think about her new project and took the plunge in July 2018. A friend asked her to explain her technique and the artist replied: “It’s a secret.” Her stage name was found. Au Fil des Secrets (Thread of Secrets) was born.
At the end of the year, she participated at the Salon des Métiers d’Art (Craft Art Show) in Nantes. She found the recognition she needed by winning the prize of the Young Creator Competition.
At first, she wished to move away from her heritage, from the embroidery of canvas and tapestries, from the decoration of clothes. So, she stitched jewelry in black and white. But they were so successful that they were copied everywhere. In addition, Jessica felt the need to embroider bigger works. She then abandoned jewelry and began to stitch abstract works, carried by a strong geometry: “I’m a bit of a tomboy, pretty flowers are not my style.”
The artist confesses her love of numbers. A pattern must be complete, a work must be balanced – one side in Blackwork, the other with drawn stitches. And above all, the entire canvas must be worked up to the edge! No void: “It’s my artist’s neurosis!“
Blackwork is a very old technique that aimed to replace very expensive lace. Black threads are used to make more or less complex counted stitch patterns that repeat themselves, using backstitch. Jessica adds texture effects by playing on the thickness of the threads, embroidering wood, leather, etc. Since becoming pregnant she has not had enough sleep and her creative mind is running wild. She has 40 projects in mind, wants to add paint, Japanese beads, “plan for impossible things and figure out how to get there”.
Visitors are often mistaken: “For most people, embroidery is cross stitch work that ranges from “hunting and fishing painting” to baby bibs. It is often necessary to explain to the public both the technique and the time of creation. The French need the price to be justified. At a trade show, I heard people say that my large embroidery was “very expensive”! The next day, I added the number of hours of work it represented. The speech then changed. With foreign visitors, it’s very different. They are more open to different techniques, to art itself. “
Even though the country has set up an important structure for training in fine crafts, a structure that does not exist in other French-speaking countries, these professions are often little appreciated in France. On the other hand, Made in France is highly valued abroad.
The pandemic is a game-changer for Jessica. With the end of the fairs and gatherings, she understands that she must open up to the international market. This is where her audience is. As she does not have a good grasp of technology, she finds help from her son and her partner. Even her brother takes part in the business by creating the wooden plinths in which the large embroidered works are placed. But these structured works don’t do well through photos: “We are going to transform a room so that we can try to take better pictures.” Being an artist requires knowing your art, but also the trades of commerce, sales, marketing and knowledge of social networks. A real challenge: “Financially, I have had to resume my job as a nurse in recent months.“
After spending hours on a work, Jessica has an almost physical need for it to go away: “I can’t look at it anymore! ” She doesn’t like to worry about finishing touches and leaves the backs of her artworks open: “I am authentic, direct. So yes, not covering the back saves me 3 hours of work but also corresponds to my personality. I don’t want to hide anything of my trials, my mistakes.“
The pandemic has allowed her to work more quietly. She was able to do enough works to exhibit them as soon as possible, without sleepless nights and stress!
She also invites us to discover two very different French artists. One is delicate, full of tenderness (Eline broderie), the other dust off the old art by embroidering insults with humor (Vilaines Broderies).
The content of this site is free and is not damaged by un-welcomed publicity. I do this work with love and passion but it requires a lot of time. I would like to continue to offer a wider market to our artists, to show how embroidery is a wonderful art. But I do need a little bit of help. If you feel like it, you can participate with a little donation to help me continue. I will be so grateful! Thank you! Claire