Joâ Grenier

The collaboration with Culturespaces

 

In 2001, I visited the magnificent Jacquemart-André Museum and I was completely enchanted by the atmosphere of eternal beauty that it projected. A museum beyond time, where modernity and history come together in perfect harmony. This wonderful visit gave me a feeling for the spirit of the place that I inject into my creations. Ever since, I've continued to develop with Culturespaces, adapting my creations to the spirit of their various cultural sites. The life behind the sites inspires me, and leads me to offer jewellery and gifts that express the personality of the sites and exhibitions. Each collection offered is different, and each object is unique. After so many years, creating something new and inspired each time is a wonderful challenge for me.


"Books of art taught me precious secrets about how to use stones"

Let's talk about you. Tell us about yourself.
I was born in St-Roch des Aulnaies in Quebec, Canada, a village of sculptors on the south bank of the river St. Laurent. I come from a family of craftsmen, weavers and knitters, so I caught the bug at a very early age.
My childhood on the banks of the river gave me a taste for dreaming, adventure, discoveries. I'm a wide awake dreamer, an intuitive person, an idealist and the life and soul of the party ... but I am also very methodical and organised, and I persevere.
 
How did you end up here?
After my secondary school studies, I took a course in fine arts and photography. I also took a course in gemology, lapidary art and American-Indian embroidery, beadwork and jewellery. I've also taken various courses in business management.
I've always worked in workshops where we created giant puppets, hats, costumes, mascots, all sorts of things.  I've also worked as artistic director for operas, shows and performances.
I've always worked for myself and run companies that I set up myself. At 20 I owned an antiques and vintage clothes shop in the cool district of old Quebec.
 
Where do you get your inspiration?
I'm mainly inspired by light, the magic of colours changing according to the seasons, sunrises and sunsets, wide, open spaces, chance meetings when travelling, that kind of thing.
History has always been a big source of inspiration for me, with its grandiose characters, its fabulous scenes and its flamboyant costumes. Books of art taught me precious secrets about how to use stones and ancient materials in creating works of contemporary art. 
 
What does your work involve?
First of all, I research the themes of the exhibitions for which I'm going to create jewellery and gift items, such as bookmarks and key rings. I track down history books, art books and films about the period. I soak up the habits and customs, the symbols, the people, the events, the costumes and jewellery which shaped the period in question. Then I research the materials (stones, pearls, textures, colour) which fit with the emotion I'm looking to recreate. I use the chosen material to create items (jewellery and accessories) by assembling pieces in a way which expresses the original idea, but is in fact a combination of history and new creation, adapted to the needs of our period. This allows visitors to come away from a museum happy to have an item or piece of jewellery that will extend the experience and the emotion they felt while they were at the exhibition.
 
How many people does it take to produce these creations?
I carry out all the stages of creation, from research to designing the product. Then one other person assists me in creating prototypes which will be presented to the museum gift shops. Depending on the orders or requests received, I employ three to four people who reproduce the selected models.


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