Two weeks ago we visited artist Lucie Schweitzer at her studio tucked away in the hills of Graça, overlooking Lisbon. Here's what she had to say:
Kintu Studio: So, Lucie how long have you been here in Portugal?
Lucie: I’ve been here six years, originally I’m from France, I grew up in Strasbourg and studied in Paris. There, I got a masters in design, and later I had my own interior design studio, we were designing restaurant interiors.
I worked on production design for runway fashion for a while too, that’s a strange world. We could let our imagination run wild and create things that were amazing but there was a lot of waste in that industry so its a bit weird.
I had great experiences working in these areas but after those years, I created my own studio and own pieces but after I became pregnant with my daughter we decided to leave Paris and move to Lisbon.
Kintu Studio: And why here?
Lucie: Because my mother is Portuguese, although we didn’t learn the language. I used to come here when I was a child for the summer. I came here often as a child to visit family.
Kintu Studio: And do you come from a creative family?
Lucie: Well, my mother is a professor of literature. She’s also a poet in many ways but hasn’t published any works. She can read one book per day, which is quite amazing.
And my father is an architect so I grew up with a lot beautiful objects. It was nice for sure.
Kintu Studio: So you were telling me, you are going to move to Estremoz..
Lucie: Yes, I am. We are building a house there now, a traditional house from the region, its a work in progress.. let me show you the plans.. it has no roof now but it will take some time.
I will leave Lisbon and work from there… it is taking a while but we’ll get there. I will run creative retreats from my new home, where people can come and have a break and be creative.
Kintu Studio: And why did you want to work with tapestry?
Lucie: Well since my studies I was always interested in working with textiles since I was a student, I was interested in fashion and textile arts. I’m interested in a wide range art forms. I was working with ceramics at the time and I was looking to make rugs by hand. I researched and found these tools that I use. Its amazing because you can draw with it and its very instinctive, it many ways my rugs are like drawings. It is spontaneous, and I like this very much. I don’t think very much before I make the rugs.. I’m an instinctive person. I dream about things and then draw the subject and after that I start on a rug.
Kintu Studio: Are you a gemini by any chance? They tend to be quite instinctive…
Lucie: No, I’m actually a Leo. Very much a Leo. For good and for bad…
Kintu Studio: Does astrology inspire your work? I see lots of symbols in your pieces.
Lucie: Not particularly, I do believe in it. However, I find these motifs from other places.
I studied history of art for a year after high school, this led me to take inspiration from motifs and symbols from paintings and architecture, I love these very much and this comes through in my work.
Kintu Studio: What about your children? Do you think they will go in the art direction? What ages are they?
Lucie: Well one is six and the other is two so its a bit early for her but my eldest daughter perhaps. Most of the time she makes inventions from paper so she is creative for sure. She loves to spend time here in my atelier. She even made a little rug. I’ll show you … She wants to experience a lot of things and we spend a lot of time making drawings or paintings.
Kintu Studio: How do you feel about Portugal, do you feel at home here?
Lucie: Yes, I think I will live here forever. It’s been great to me and that’s why are building the house.. I think its more peaceful and the people are more calm. It’s better with children here, the Portuguese are very friendly to kids. It’s more stressful in Paris not just with kids but also with work. Perhaps this is the way in big cities but I don’t want this for my kids, or for me. I think people here are not afraid from others, I think in France people are afraid from their neighbours whereas here, you can speak with anyone on the streets and its ok, it's not an aggression, its peaceful.
Kintu Studio: Thank you for having us at you studio, we look forward to visiting you in Estremoz!
Lucie: Of course, I look forward to it.