AURELIE LECUYER - Photographer and artist

Par: Aurélie ROUTHIER

Aurélie’s words reflect the image of her house, sensitive, sober, and true. Without any frills or style flair. Composing a partition as simple in appearance as it is intrinsically singular, between what makes sense and what is beautiful.

It is in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, a small town on the Vendée coast of light, that Aurélie Lecuyer, photographer and stylist, came to settle with her husband Jean-Christophe and their children, Gustave, Honoré and Blanche, in 2018. A little reluctantly at first, this Parisian native ended up making her nest there in happy harmony with the natural elements that surround them.

“Making your nest” particularly connects with your experience: you remodeled this house with your hands.

The idea was to review all the spaces of this typical 70s house to find a feeling of space and bring in light from everywhere. We removed the partitions and the corridors and the sub-ceilings to give shape to a huge living room. With my husband we worked ourselves on everything we could master such as the lime plastering of the walls, the wooden and concrete floors, the wooden kitchen.

Light up and breathe. Hence the choice of very simple raw materials and mostly neutral tones. We didn't want to add more unnecessarily. It must be said that the light from the seaside is so special and stunningly beautiful that it is enough in itself.

You could almost feel like you're in Portugal!

But yes, there are of course connections between the traditional Vendée house and the one we can see in Portugal! Simplicity is key, the technique of troweled walls to absorb humidity and make the rooms breathe…

I would say that I have the Vendée spirit mixed with my more personal inspirations. I don't follow any trends but let myself be carried away by my instinct.

Are objects important to you?

I would say that I am not materialistic and that I could get rid of many objects, apart from those which are very symbolic for me and for which I therefore have a particular affection. The objects that I choose, because of their colors and their materials, give a feeling of immense security when I look at them or touch them. For me, objects should not be there by chance. They are there to tell us a story, to carry within themselves a story. I attach as much importance to a pebble found on the beach that will remind me of a moment of joy as to an object of great financial value or great utility.

Taking time is important to you, how do you really achieve this in this world of too much and too fast?

In truth, I am impatient myself! But when we step back geographically and professionally from the urban whirlwind, we already manage more easily to modify its nature. And then the choice to work with ceramics also says something about my desire to reclaim time, the time that allows me to create. I turned to an art that requires a long time, respect for the stages, and the wait for cooking. It takes me around ten months to release new models.

We indeed feel in you an osmosis with “matter” and materials in all their diversity.

I inhabit matter, I work on it, like every human being I am made of it: it is everywhere and yet we sometimes forget it. You have to know how to look at it, choose it, make it your own. We all have materials that appeal to us and excite us more than others. For me, for example, it is linen fiber in particular: French, natural, durable like in the Sandhills collection. Both wool and mohair have this soothing enveloping effect. And then there was my encounter with ceramics. The lamps that I create with the ceramist Benoît Audureau have a fairly primitive material. They are very rough. We can feel the very instinctive work of the ceramist. The lampshades that I weave are made of rope or raffia. These unexpected encounters of materials tell a different story each time. Unique.

Why this artistic approach with the lamp object?

At first it started with a Marais sandstone lamp that I found. I told myself that this object could no longer be found today. Then there is all the symbolism of the lamp: I like the fact that it is anchored in a very concrete daily life due to its usefulness but also its more sensitive dimension provided by the light it emits, and which can transform totally the experience of a room. The lamps that we create are durable objects whose bases are made with earth, a very powerful and concrete material to which we give an extra emotional soul via light.

What has this art of ceramics taught you?

The joy of imperfection! The always renewed surprise of a result that we never completely control. Working on the living, the inconstant implies a necessary humility. 

Lady rug or mother cushions?

I prefer rugs, I have them everywhere. They dress as much as they warm. They can change an entire atmosphere without being protagonists.

In front of the fireplace in my living room, I have the Beja rug by Saudade, which I had custom made. I love this “false plain”: it’s as you get closer that you discover the subtle weave of two colors. I attach importance to the fact that they were handmade by Portuguese weavers.

As someone who doesn't buy anything, recycle, shop around, create, knowing that the threads of this rug have been recycled definitely speaks to me.

Your definition of beautiful?

Beauty should be democratic. It must be simple, accessible.

Over time, I moved away from a very intellectualized and constructed schema of beauty. For me, only what is instinctive, not calculated, is beautiful. It’s a harmony. Sometimes an imperfection.

Someone who inspires you at the moment. 

Agathe Berjaut

At a time when everything is tending towards a certain uniformity, you have succeed in creating a certain discrepancy, which is what she does. 

Your rug is flying away, where is it taking you?

On the Portuguese coast on the Atlantic side towards Faro. My husband is a surfer.

Ultimately I don’t look for exoticism when I leave home. We know what makes us happy and we like to find these elements on other shores: wind, sand, the ocean...with a good dose of extra sun compared to where we live!

Anything 'Saudadesque' in your home? 

The few pieces of jewellery left to me by my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my other. They've been through history, theirs and now mine. When I look at them or wear them, i'm overcome by an intense, sweet nostalgia, with the certainty that my memories with them will never fade. 

A house in Lisbon, like a summer dream.
A house in Lisbon, like a summer dream.
The eye of the artist, the hand of the craftsman.
The eye of the artist, the hand of the craftsman.
Materials to live by. Facing the Ocean
Materials to live by. Facing the Ocean
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