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Claire Guiral

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Claire Guiral

We found our home in 1997, a late 19th-century Bordelais townhouse in the heart of Bordeaux, a beautiful city in the South of France. I bought the property with Philippe, my ex-husband, and despite having since separated, we still share this house today. He lives on the ground floor and I live on the first floor with our son. It is an unusual arrangement, but it means our son is able to spend time between the apartments and have both of his parents nearby.

Claire Guiral

My home is a beautiful townhouse with a small garden and was untouched by time when we found it. So many of the original features are still intact—wooden parquet flooring, beautiful carved stone fireplaces, high ceilings with detailed cornicing, and despite being right in the centre of Bordeaux city, it feels strangely like a house tucked away in the countryside.

I always take immense pleasure in making something just for me.

In a funny way, I am still the same person I have been since I was seven years old. A young girl who daydreamed and got swept away by a good story. For as long as I can remember, I have always been making things with my hands. As a girl, I would take little scraps of paper and cardboard, tiny remnants of fabric and branches from my garden and transform them into playthings plucked from my imagination.

Claire Guiral

As the years have passed, I feel that I haven’t changed all that much, I have simply improved and finessed my creative techniques. I did undertake formal studies in fine art, and upon graduation I worked as a graphic designer for more than ten years before getting the courage to leave behind the restraints of a creative desk job and live off my personal artwork. My most favourite work during this period are my illustrations for the children’s books by Gaultier Languerot and Barefoot.

Claire Guiral

Creating is a bit like breathing for me, an absolutely vital need, to such a point that I don’t really like to leave my atelier to go on holidays. So now when I do go away for a few days’ vacation, I always take something to play with. It might be an unfinished artwork, or cutting petals to make paper flowers, or crafting roof tiles from cardboard which will go on to embellish the roofs of my paper houses. It is usually something repetitive and I love to listen to audiobooks while cutting paper and creating. The immense freedom that my creative work offers me makes me realise that I am greatly privileged, even though I make a modest living. It is such an honour to be able to create art as a full-time job.

The advantage of being an artist is that we can choose what we want to do and create, we choose what we love even if no one ever purchases your creative work. These last few months I have really enjoyed working to create my series of ‘Fairy houses’ in cardboard, all the while knowing that they will be very difficult to sell. This is never truly a deterrent to my creativity.

Claire Guiral

I accumulate paper, objects and finds for my work, but also for my own personal pleasure, and in many cases these are one and the same thing.

Claire Guiral

When I create my paper dresses, I start by creating a small corset structure, then I paint large sheets of either tissue paper or kraft paper depending on the effect I’m looking to achieve. I then cut out the dress patterns one by one, using glue to mount the elements together. Once I have the structure created, it is the small details and embellishments that breathe life into a dress. Ruffles, petticoats, flowers, fringes, jewels…I make these decorative elements as I go along. Even if I start creating based on a sketch, my idea very often evolves as my work progresses. In the end I rework all the elements to lend a very special signature patina. I very much love creating something that looks like it has survived centuries and has just been unlocked from inside a dust-covered steamer trunk in the attic.

Claire Guiral

I have always loved nature and flowers. I like to inspire myself but without seeking an absolute realism. Moreover, I often find fading flowers even more moving than the perfect beauty of a freshly picked flower. I spend a lot of time as an observer, but when I work I do not try to create perfectly realistic flowers. I don’t have a set of strict patterns or shapes, I work intuitively, using my imagination as my guide.

Claire Guiral

I love to use crepe paper for my flowers but also like to make them with kraft paper and paper from old books. Sometimes I color the petals with gouache paint. It’s funny I only like painting with gouache—I love the texture and smell of it and I really like the dull, non-shiny effect that it gives. I’ve even mixed my paper petals with frayed fabric to create more texture and ‘life.’

I find that it is necessary for me to make something every day.

Claire Guiral

I cherish this very special coat that was offered to me by Carine Abbou (designer of fashion brand Bazarine) when I was pregnant with my son. It is inspired by the shape and colour of traditional Turkish ‘chapanes.’ It is made with many different pieces of old fabrics, some of which my friend brought back from her travels to India and Istanbul. I wore it so much that I have had to repair it countless times, replacing torn pieces and darning the more fragile places. Today it could perhaps be called a little “tired,” as its bright colors have faded, but I still love it so much and it is immensely rich with happy memories, so I have it hanging on the back of my atelier door so that I can still enjoy it every day.

Despite the fact that many of my creations are usually very small in scale, the most challenging aspect of my creative life is juggling living and creating in the same apartment space. It is really a question of managing space. I have a tendency to keep everything and never throw anything away, as I know that one day it will be useful. In some cases I will meet someone and I will want to gift them with something they will cherish. I can’t really imagine separating my creative studio from my living space, even if I am frustrated to not have enough physical space.

For me, everything is connected, there is no separation between my life as a mother, my life as a woman and partner, and my artistic work; everything is coherent and exists in harmony.

I suppose the only thing I dislike in the creative process is finding compatibility between materials…and cleaning up my mess after a day of making…both these tasks are indispensable but definitely not my favourite moments of my work. I can always strive to do everything else with absolute pleasure, even the small menial and repetitive tasks, such as cutting hundreds of petals or painting my paper beads. Once I have my favourite audiobook or the radio station ‘France Culture’ playing in the background, time disappears and I get lost in my work.

Claire Guiral

Claire Guiral

We found our home in 1997, a late 19th-century Bordelais townhouse in the heart of Bordeaux, a beautiful city in the South of France. I bought the property with Philippe, my ex-husband, and despite having since separated, we still share this house today. He lives on the ground floor and I live on the first floor with our son. It is an unusual arrangement, but it means our son is able to spend time between the apartments and have both of his parents nearby.

Claire Guiral

My home is a beautiful townhouse with a small garden and was untouched by time when we found it. So many of the original features are still intact—wooden parquet flooring, beautiful carved stone fireplaces, high ceilings with detailed cornicing, and despite being right in the centre of Bordeaux city, it feels strangely like a house tucked away in the countryside.

I always take immense pleasure in making something just for me.

In a funny way, I am still the same person I have been since I was seven years old. A young girl who daydreamed and got swept away by a good story. For as long as I can remember, I have always been making things with my hands. As a girl, I would take little scraps of paper and cardboard, tiny remnants of fabric and branches from my garden and transform them into playthings plucked from my imagination.

Claire Guiral

As the years have passed, I feel that I haven’t changed all that much, I have simply improved and finessed my creative techniques. I did undertake formal studies in fine art, and upon graduation I worked as a graphic designer for more than ten years before getting the courage to leave behind the restraints of a creative desk job and live off my personal artwork. My most favourite work during this period are my illustrations for the children’s books by Gaultier Languerot and Barefoot.

Claire Guiral

Creating is a bit like breathing for me, an absolutely vital need, to such a point that I don’t really like to leave my atelier to go on holidays. So now when I do go away for a few days’ vacation, I always take something to play with. It might be an unfinished artwork, or cutting petals to make paper flowers, or crafting roof tiles from cardboard which will go on to embellish the roofs of my paper houses. It is usually something repetitive and I love to listen to audiobooks while cutting paper and creating. The immense freedom that my creative work offers me makes me realise that I am greatly privileged, even though I make a modest living. It is such an honour to be able to create art as a full-time job.

The advantage of being an artist is that we can choose what we want to do and create, we choose what we love even if no one ever purchases your creative work. These last few months I have really enjoyed working to create my series of ‘Fairy houses’ in cardboard, all the while knowing that they will be very difficult to sell. This is never truly a deterrent to my creativity.

Claire Guiral

I accumulate paper, objects and finds for my work, but also for my own personal pleasure, and in many cases these are one and the same thing.

Claire Guiral

When I create my paper dresses, I start by creating a small corset structure, then I paint large sheets of either tissue paper or kraft paper depending on the effect I’m looking to achieve. I then cut out the dress patterns one by one, using glue to mount the elements together. Once I have the structure created, it is the small details and embellishments that breathe life into a dress. Ruffles, petticoats, flowers, fringes, jewels…I make these decorative elements as I go along. Even if I start creating based on a sketch, my idea very often evolves as my work progresses. In the end I rework all the elements to lend a very special signature patina. I very much love creating something that looks like it has survived centuries and has just been unlocked from inside a dust-covered steamer trunk in the attic.

Claire Guiral

I have always loved nature and flowers. I like to inspire myself but without seeking an absolute realism. Moreover, I often find fading flowers even more moving than the perfect beauty of a freshly picked flower. I spend a lot of time as an observer, but when I work I do not try to create perfectly realistic flowers. I don’t have a set of strict patterns or shapes, I work intuitively, using my imagination as my guide.

Claire Guiral

I love to use crepe paper for my flowers but also like to make them with kraft paper and paper from old books. Sometimes I color the petals with gouache paint. It’s funny I only like painting with gouache—I love the texture and smell of it and I really like the dull, non-shiny effect that it gives. I’ve even mixed my paper petals with frayed fabric to create more texture and ‘life.’

I find that it is necessary for me to make something every day.

Claire Guiral

I cherish this very special coat that was offered to me by Carine Abbou (designer of fashion brand Bazarine) when I was pregnant with my son. It is inspired by the shape and colour of traditional Turkish ‘chapanes.’ It is made with many different pieces of old fabrics, some of which my friend brought back from her travels to India and Istanbul. I wore it so much that I have had to repair it countless times, replacing torn pieces and darning the more fragile places. Today it could perhaps be called a little “tired,” as its bright colors have faded, but I still love it so much and it is immensely rich with happy memories, so I have it hanging on the back of my atelier door so that I can still enjoy it every day.

Despite the fact that many of my creations are usually very small in scale, the most challenging aspect of my creative life is juggling living and creating in the same apartment space. It is really a question of managing space. I have a tendency to keep everything and never throw anything away, as I know that one day it will be useful. In some cases I will meet someone and I will want to gift them with something they will cherish. I can’t really imagine separating my creative studio from my living space, even if I am frustrated to not have enough physical space.

For me, everything is connected, there is no separation between my life as a mother, my life as a woman and partner, and my artistic work; everything is coherent and exists in harmony.

I suppose the only thing I dislike in the creative process is finding compatibility between materials…and cleaning up my mess after a day of making…both these tasks are indispensable but definitely not my favourite moments of my work. I can always strive to do everything else with absolute pleasure, even the small menial and repetitive tasks, such as cutting hundreds of petals or painting my paper beads. Once I have my favourite audiobook or the radio station ‘France Culture’ playing in the background, time disappears and I get lost in my work.

Claire Guiral

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