A project I love.. the Belgian artist Bren Heymans has just launched the website of Futur-Velours. With this project, Heymans wishes to facilitate an artistic dialogue between female weavers specialised in traditional raffia embroideries working in Ilebo, Kasai (DRC), and Western artists, designers, collectors, and other interested individuals or institutions. Through this website, a group of seven weavers in Ilebo is available to create any design desired in the famed format of the Shoowa textile (‘velours de Kasai’ in French).
Bren Heymans already had 15 works created in collaboration with the weavers in Ilebo, four of which are currently on view at the just opened exhibition 100 X Congo at the MAS Museum in Antwerp, Belgium. On his website you can explore the other works not on view – several documenting Belgium’s problematic colonial history.
Via the Futur-Velours website you can order a unique edition of one of the 15 works Heymans had created, or send in your own personal creation to have made into a raffia weaving! As the whole creation process for these female weavers is a work with a lot of improvisation and creative freedom, the result will not be exactly identical to the requested design but an answer to it. A ‘form of jazz’ between the West and Congo Heymans wishes to stimulate.
Do note the whole process takes a couple of months, as these textiles take a lot of time to create. If you do send in a design, please be sure to send me a picture of the result once it is ready – even if it is just your company’s logo 🙂
Please do share this website with any artists or designers you know that might be interested. Surely this dialogue will result in some very interesting results, and will keep this important artistic tradition alive and kicking into the 21th century.