Carole Solvay expresses her inner world and her delicate perception of her surroundings, using feathers and all sorts of wire. Viewers find the softness and invisible vibrations of her web structures and soft nests fascinating.
“It is much more difficult for me to speak of my work than to create it. When I’m in a good place, my creativity flows. All I need to do is forget any expectations, observe the work I’ve begun at my own pace, imagine what it could become and to go for it, and if I don’t like my ideas, I look elsewhere. And I love it when I find life, poetry, or when I surprise myself.
And if it’s a bad day for me, there’s always some wire to prepare, feathers to cut and thread, all these little jobs keep me grounded and reassure me.
For a long time, I was looking for my artistic medium, and then feathers came to me by accident and it seemed so obvious: I was fascinated by the natural lightness of the feather, and also due to my passion for birds. I am a self-educated artist and this has given me the freedom that I wouldn’t have felt otherwise. I started by exploring the ways in which I could transform feathers. If I was afraid to pull them apart, then it was no use. So I began choosing the parts I could use: barbs, shafts, and tips. I would create little pieces that I liked to call my talismans, by assembling fragments of different feathers. With experience and more self-confidence, my work has evolved. I began to leave the enclosed walls and instead took over spaces. I explored calligraphy, three-dimensional drawings, the idea of movement, the tremors running through the materials. I transformed items that move through the skies into ones that live under the sea: coral, jellyfish and shells. The time it took me to create one of these corals was beginning to feel as infinite as that taken by realcoral to form and grow on the seabed.
In my own way, I am representing the various aspects of nature. These creations are a blend of what I love in my work - the notion of time, the daily quest for excellence, movement, the air - and how I imagine mist, rain or steam, interacting with the walls or the ground. Maybe these old walls also hold memories of what they’ve seen, just like ancient trees.” Carole Solvay
L’arbre à palabres and Résonances
“Arbre à palabres is the result of a long and philosophical creative process, and in the end, this sculpture was actually created in situ. Even if the research process began in the studio, the sculpture took shape day after day, in an intuitive manner, inside the Donkey Stables. In this room, the light is particularly beautiful and ever-changing. I wanted to create a suspended structure, made from organic matter and hanging in thin air, reflecting the sun’s rays and the surrounding air. Arbre à palabres is brought to life by and is rooted in these countless vibrations.
On the upper floor, I set up one of my stony corals (Madrepore), known as Résonances. This is a sort of negative representation of Arbre à palabres. It is a completely different atmosphere, a dark and subdued underwater world. For me there is a sort of deep breath that emanates from this large coral, and interacts with the adjoining artwork, as if they were dependent upon one another. And also, as if Résonances were drawing from the vibrations and photosynthesis of Arbre à palabres.” Carole Solvay
Carole Solvay was born in 1954. As a child, she spent her time watching swallows swooping overhead and the movement of the wind in the grasses, and listening to the rustling of the leaves.
When she was out walking, she collected feathers she found on her way. Airy, organic feathers that are lightweight, complex, delicate yet robust. Black, white and ash-grey feathers, whose discreet beauty make the fluorescent sheen of a peacock’s feathers even more astonishing.
She taught herself to spin and weave through books and really acquired a taste for this solitary and repetitive work. She soon began to use feathers, that she would attach and thread onto wire, to create debarbed talismans. The first of her works created using this surprising material, took on living forms. “The ideas come to me as I work. I try to remain free and without expectations. I like it when something appears to be alive, poetic, or takes me by surprise.”
Carole Solvay joined an art school but after a few weeks, she realised that the demands of the academic system were not for her. Working only by instinct, she preferred to learn at her own pace and in her own way.
“I have a great need for peace-and-quiet and solitude, and my work is closely tied to my self-development. At the same time, this is building itself slowly, and this notion of space in time is very important to me.”
Carole Solvay’s work takes inspiration from nature, the sky, space, light and movements of grass and leaves that can barely be seen. Her life is full of stories of birds. She never consciously decided to work with feathers, it just happened, “but because every experience leads to another, I’m still there.”
As she evolves, her work evolves with her, becoming less and less figurative, more and more light and airy. Little by little, she moves away from the material itself and takes over more space, sculpting the light.
Her feathers become a play on shapes and lines, sketching in thin air, encircling the emptiness, quivering in the breath of passing elements and being reborn much like a cocoon, mist hanging in the air, green fur, or a graceful colony of jellyfish or polyps.