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Celebrating French Craftsmanship

Find out who is the at the top of French Craftsmanship with TLmag’s recap of the Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour l’intelligence de la main 2018

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Photography © Sophie Zénon for the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation

Earlier this month, on October 11, the winners of the Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour l’intelligence de la main® were announced in front of an audience of over 700 people. In a celebration of the French creative scene the prizes given by the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation aim to support and foster developing and outstanding projects and practitioners. Indeed, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, President of the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller said “Our guideline is clear: do our best to accompany these men and women on their way, grow these French talents, shine these beautiful examples, carrying so many human values and think about youth. We are here to encourage them.”

The three winners were chosen for projects that resolutely focused on the future by bringing together craftsmanship, expertise and innovation. Since its creation in 1999, the Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour l’intelligence de la main® has awarded and shed light on 105 laureates representative of 50 exceptional craftsmen skills.

The prize for Exceptional Talent (Talents d’Exception) seeks a craftsperson who demonstrates a mastery of skill with an innovative dimension. Perfectly fulfilling this criterion for 2018 was feather artist Julien Vermeulen for his piece Black Ocean. The 7-meter long installation is constructed from 12, 000 turkey tail feather’s that Vermeulen cut into arrow shapes by hand and colored with Indian ink. The painstaking work is a mark of the artist’s commitment to his craft. The piece is a reference to the myth of Icarus but also acts as a function acoustic barrier in the space in which it is installed.

Focusing on collaboration, the Dialogues award highlights a successful pairing between a skilled craftsperson and another creator which could be a designer, visual artist, architect etc. The technological feat of Vertex Eidôlon, a sound system which plays audio and music and an incredibly high-quality thanks to perfectly precise wax molds from which it is manufactured impressed the jury. It was the result of a collaboration between the mold maker and chandler Mona Oren, mixed media sculptor Jérôme Malbrel and R&D engineer Lionel Bourcelot. Lina Ghotmeh, an architect who was a member of the jury said: “Thinking crafts is also giving way to emotion in architecture. We share this love of working with the medium and skills.”

Finally, the 2018 Parcours prize was awarded to the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie in Aubusson represented by its director Emmanuel Gérard. This prize highlights an individual for their exemplary commitment to the French crafts sector. Created in response to the listing of Aubusson’s tapestry skills as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2009, the Cité Internationale de la tapisserie is a museum that was developed with the task of preserving, increasing and highlighting the craftsmanship of tapestry in Aubusson. In its short life since opening in 2016, it has collected nearly 500 rare works and 14,000 books and 15,000 graphic pieces that make up the world’s largest documentation center on tapestry. It also facilitates artists residencies, education and various exhibitions.

The jury president Jean de Loisy succinctly sums up this year’s prizes in stating “a craftsman has a global relationship to the history of which he/she is the heir and the avant-garde.”

Next year’s prizes are now bring selected and the 2019 awards will mark the 20th anniversary of Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour l’intelligence de la main®

Liliane Bettencourt Prize
Julien Vermeulen – laureate of the Prize pour l'intelligence de la main - 2018 Talents d'exception
Liliane Bettencourt Prize
Julien Vermeulen – laureate of the Prize pour l'intelligence de la main - 2018 Talents d'exception
Liliane Bettencourt Prize
Mona Oren Jérôme Malbrel and Lionel Bourcelot - laureates of the Prize pour l'intelligence de la main – 2018 Dialogues 

Liliane Bettencourt Prize
Mona Oren Jérôme Malbrel and Lionel Bourcelot - laureates of the Prize pour l'intelligence de la main – 2018 Dialogues 

Liliane Bettencourt Prize
Mona Oren Jérôme Malbrel and Lionel Bourcelot - laureates of the Prize pour l'intelligence de la main – 2018 Dialogues 

Liliane Bettencourt Prize
Emmanuel Gérard, director of the Cité internationale de la tapisserie – Aubusson - laureate of the Prize pour l'intelligence de la main – 2018 Parcours
Liliane Bettencourt Prize
Emmanuel Gérard, director of the Cité internationale de la tapisserie – Aubusson - laureate of the Prize pour l'intelligence de la main – 2018 Parcours
Liliane Bettencourt Prize
Emmanuel Gérard, director of the Cité internationale de la tapisserie – Aubusson - laureate of the Prize pour l'intelligence de la main – 2018 Parcours
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