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Honouring the Arweider at La Grand Place

The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is showcasing the personal stories of local glassworkers in an exhibition at the Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis

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Text by Rab Messina
Photography by Camille Roux

In the Lorraine Franconian dialect, the arweider is a name given to craftsmen and women. Since it is also the land of the Étoiles terrestres —the earthly stars of the Musée Lalique, the Meisenthal glassworks and La Grand Place—, that definition of work is associated with glass and crystal-making.

As part of their contemporary art programme at the Musée du cristal Saint-Louis, in Moselle, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is honouring the workers who skilfully transform molten glass with their lungs with a beautifully personal exhibition aptly titled Arweider.

Throughout a ten-month research stage, Metz-based artists Anne Delrez and Julie Luzoir worked with the men and women in the foundries to weave together an exhibition based on their life stories. So today, among the thousands of historical objects depicting four centuries of ingenuity and craftsmanship at the revered Cristallerie Saint-Louis, lie a new set of objects that shines a light on the emotional thinking behind the glassmaking process.

Delrez, a photographer, and Luzoir, who works with drawing, visited their homes and learned about the experiences behind family photographs, the prized objects inside their vitrines, the medals they’ve earned and the press clippings they’ve kept. The workers told them about their first days at the foundry, the organic and unexpected singing that becomes the soundtrack of their workshops and their participation in the celebration of the village’s patron. The exhibition features these personal objects alongside drawings and designs and family glassware and crystalware sets. The oral history of these items is shared via a sound installation.

“Together, they cast a discreet spotlight on the personal tastes and stories at the heart of the glass and crystal foundries,” explained curator Béatrice Josse.

Arweider is on display at La Grand Place until January 8

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