Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

10.09.2013

Textile Scout™ Part II

[Image via LuluDK Lifestyle]
Following up on a summer post, here are more of the richly patterned vintage Indian silks collected by artist and designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski.


These pillows -- described by Lulu as "Talitha Getty-meets Rajasthan-meets Hermès" -- are currently available in her just-launched online shop along with wares of her own design.


And returning to my interview with another globe-trotting textile enthusiast, Rebecca Vizard, I asked the Louisiana-based designer about her expeditions.

[Detail via B. Viz]

SC: When you first got into antique textiles, you were focused on European pieces, correct? When did you begin to explore stitched fabrics from other regions, such as Turkey?

B.Viz: In 1994 there was easier access to European textiles in the States. But in 1996 I received a large order for one-of-a-kind pillows from Neiman Marcus and began sourcing in Paris. I remember being fascinated with embroidered work, and after buying pieces of both silk and metallic embroidery, I soon realized the metallic is more durable.


[Antique Ottoman Empire embroidery]  


Simpler, more rustic metallic work from Turkey particularly appeals to me. There is something about the juxtaposition of elegant gold or silver thread with simpler stitches that I find beautiful and intriguing.

[Click to enlarge. 18th-century silver metallic embroidered applique. While the textiles are international, all B. Viz pillows are hand-stitched in St. Joseph, Louisiana.]

Though, many of the European raised metallic embroidery pieces are phenomenal (sometimes the stitches are so perfect it is hard to believe they are handmade). Thickly embroidered European pieces are very rare and I love to analyze their construction. Also, most of these embroideries are drawn on recycled paper, so it's fun to see the backing when we are deconstructing them. Sometimes they are drawn on old ledger paper with the most exquisite calligraphy, sometimes Bible pages, and in other instances old newspapers which helps to date them, occasionally.


I bought my first suzani in Paris many years ago and paid a fortune for it! I didn't care. The colors and the customs behind the cover ignited my imagination for other cultures' textiles. Now the market has been flooded with suzani work. I still love them but the really old ones are my most cherished….and they are rare, I would never cut them.

[Courtesy B. Viz Design]


SC: You just returned from Morocco. Visually, what stood out to you most?

B. Viz: The patterns! I could not get enough of them…from the airport windows to the souks. And from the architecture to the Atlas Mountains, I found color and pattern everywhere. I took over 1000 pictures. It was particularly exhilarating to experience the contrast from Paris to Morocco.

It's also a great analogy to B Viz Design. Not many people realize, when they are calling from some busy metropolitan area, that my studio is in the middle of rural Louisiana down a gravel road on an oxbow lake. We have spotty wifi, no stop lights, and the closest "big" city is Jackson, Mississippi almost 100 miles away. If anyone is late for work they usually were held up by a cotton picker. Like Morocco, the seclusion from the rest of the world intensifies your senses. I have to admit, I'm rarely blasé about anything. My country life makes me appreciative of the city, and my city life makes me appreciative of the country.

[Antique cloth of gold with raised embroidery]


SC: You have such a discerning eye. Such a sense of balance. I notice that you seem to keep in check the sumptuousness of your materials with very simple pillow designs. And while you're detail oriented, you never go fussy. Do you think for you it's innate or an approach you refined over time?

B. Viz: Thank you. I do tend to think it's some what innate. [As I said earlier] I've always been fairly tailored but I enjoy adding touches of Boheme. Traditional with some fun. When you take your style too seriously, you can get into trouble -- don't ever think you're too important to have some fun with things. You have to leave yourself open to new ideas and influences.

SC: Would you share some of your favorite flea markets? Favorite museums?

[Image via...]

B. Viz: Picasso Museum in Paris, Belvedere in Vienna, Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, The Textile Museum in DC. Oh and the Rothko Room at the Tate was amazing when I saw it. My favorite living artists are Isabelle de Borchgrave from Belgium, and El Anatsui from Africa. Demond Matsuo is a wonderful emerging artist from Louisiana.

[Demond Matsuo, Two Samurai, mixed media]

[Demond Matsuo, Dandelion Geisha, mixed media]

Flea Markets: St. Ouen Marche Puces in Paris is expensive, but hard to beat…it seems to be the place for fabulous things to make their debut. Most of the time, flea markets are very hit or miss. You just have to always have your radar on. One of my best scores was in Comfort, Texas of all places!

SC: I know you traveled to Atlanta a few months ago to see Girl with a Pearl Earring when it was at the High. What stood out to you?

[Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, circa 1665] 

B. Viz: I'm so glad you asked this and forced me to ponder why [the painting] has always been one of my favorites. After standing mesmerized in front of it at the High, I finally realized it's not so much Vermeer's masterful strokes, but the emotion he evokes. Staring at it puts me in the same state of mind as staring at the lake in front of my house.


There is something about Vermeer's blues and ochres that remind me of the water (especially in winter) and the way the sunlight hits the cypress trees and docks. For me, both the painting and Lake Bruin are full of mystery.

[Via...]

SC: Where are you headed in 2014? Any new destinations in your plans?

B. Viz: I haven't even unpacked completely from this last trip! Although I am headed to Utah and then showing at High Point in October. I'm trying to visit Florence soon because Marina wants me to stay at her place in Italy. I would love to meet some of her Italian friends!

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