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Odile Bouscarat

Published:

Odile Bouscarat

I am Odile Bouscarat. I was born in Morocco, and I spent my earliest years on an air base as my father had brought my mother to Morocco to shelter her from the dangers of World War II. After the war ended, my family moved back to France, finding a house on the Atlantic coast in the city of Bordeaux. Very soon after, my mother became too ill to look after me, and so at only six years old, I was sent to boarding school in a village called ‘Les Bonnes Enfants,’ which means ‘The Good Children’. Looking back, those three years spent at boarding school were perhaps the happiest of my childhood.

My father was a very accomplished and ambitious man, and he rose to the distinguished level of general in the French Air Force. I know that he had always wanted a son and heir, and me being born a girl was a huge disappointment to him. He had so many wishes and dreams for me, hoping that I would have an equally distinguished career (as he was quite modern for his time and not against women working), but unfortunately for him, I hated school and was a really terrible student.

Odile Bouscarat

I always remember, that even from a very young age, I dreamed of becoming an artist. My entire being wanted to study fine arts in college, but in my parents’ minds, it was totally out of the question, inconceivable even. They forbade me from pursuing art as a career. I was devastated and realize now that I carried this intense hurt around with me for decades. It was only when my eldest daughter, Aurelie Alvarez (featured in Where Women Create in March 2018), was accepted into art college that I allowed myself to feel these intense emotions wrapped around my broken dreams. Today, my granddaughter Lili is completing her degree in fine arts, and I am so happy and supportive of her.

Growing up, I consoled my creative soul with literature, music, painting and sculpture, going to the cinema and soaking up art in museums in Paris. Of course, when my two beautiful daughters were born, they became my whole world, and now my four granddaughters bring me much similar joy.

Odile Bouscarat

I remember clearly that my mother was quite indifferent to my lack of academic excellence. She was born with an artist’s sensibility, but I thought it was such a shame that she never really was able to excel with her creativity despite being enormously talented. My mother used to work at the Paris flea markets (Puces de Clignancourt). She wasn’t exactly an antiques dealer, but she went to a lot of flea markets and had really exquisite taste and vision.

I remember coming home from boarding school on weekends, and as my mother hated to cook, we would spend our weekends driving from one antiques dealer to another hunting for treasure. My father would step out to polish his car while my mother stopped to chat and look for antiques, and I would wait impatiently in the car. We never ate at home; we would always dine in restaurants. I remember so vividly that all I wanted was a simple home-cooked meal. The glamour and extravagance were a little lost on me.

Odile Bouscarat

When I was about 29 years old, my mother suggested that I take a stand at the Puces de Clignacourt. I thought it was a wonderful idea, and I recall stuffing my crumbling Renault Dauphine (it was so old that there were plants growing inside the car) full of small treasures that I had found here and there. Along I went to the most famous flea market in France.

I rolled up and set up my humble stand on the pavement, and it was crazy. People swarmed to me, and I sold everything. It was a huge success. After that, I would set up nearly every weekend, sometimes with my young daughter Aurelie on my hip.

So, this was how I found my path to antiques. Sometimes, things would find me. For example, an elderly neighbor would offer me her unwanted things or another would call on me to clear out their attic, and very soon, I found myself driving down the very same roads of Paris and calling on the very same antiques dealers that my own mother had called upon only a decade before.

Odile Bouscarat

Someone once described my work as “Painting with Objects”.

Eventually, I moved from Paris to Provence, and it was only after raising my daughters that I finally allowed myself to fully express my own creativity, opening up a small, intimate boutique in Isle sur la Sorgue in 1991. Over the last twenty-seven years, it has evolved from an antiques boutique into a space where I transform and create with found objects and forgotten treasures.

In the beginning, when I started to express myself artistically, I was really quite terrified. I had kept this side of myself so locked away that it was quite difficult initially to truly communicate. But, slowly I found a way to express myself through my treasured finds; unusual unexpectedly improbably poetic objects.

In deconstructing these beautiful artifacts, I rebuilt myself. I was very fortunate to find a home in the center of Isle sur la Sorgue, which is one of the most important antiquing towns in France outside of Paris. It is a wonderful old village house with plenty of character, discreetly tucked away off the busy main street, on the ‘Impasse de l’hotel de Palerme’. I live in a rambling apartment upstairs and have created a shop space downstairs. It consists of an entryway that opens onto an intimate courtyard and a shop room, sheltered from the rain, wind, cold and even the extreme heat of the Provencal summer. I’ve been here 27 years, but I still feel the very special charm of this space I call home. It is a space that allows me to create—a space that I love very much—and I have filled it with objects, finds and creations that really fill my heart with joy.

Odile Bouscarat

I Discovered Antique Textiles when I moved to Provence. The patterns, the fabrics and the colors were an intense shock to my system. With ancient textiles, all of the fabric colors are from natural plant dyes: indigo, madder root, and reseda are a few of my favourites. It was a real love story to discover the world of the ancient ‘Indiennes’ fabrics, and over the last thirty years, I have been very lucky to have found and saved many extraordinary samples. I have squirrelled away many morsels between my shop and home upstairs, and I love to dip into my collection in order to restore ancient quilts or more recently to create patchwork ‘tapestries’ artwork with 18th-century remnants.

Another one of my great loves is antique wallpaper. I have collected many rolls of precious antique papers and wallpapers over the decades, as you never know when you will need a morsel to repair or restore an ancient paper trunk or marriage box. My latest creations are antique wallpaper covered books; I love to layer strips of ancient wallpapers, playing with colour and texture. I have, for as long as I can remember, saved and recuperated old wallpapers from old houses. Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you will come across old screens upholstered in jute with an outer layer of crumbling wallpaper, and I will buy the screen to salvage the wallpaper no matter the condition. But, these ancient fabrics and papers are becoming harder and harder to find which makes them all the more precious.

Another material, which I love, is wire—what we call ‘fil de fer’ in French as it has so much creative potential. I love to use my old papers to create lampshades; the light delicately dancing through the scrolling handwritten script and fine parchment.

You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.

– Anonymous

I suppose in general I love to create with raw materials and items which are modest. I find folk-art especially evocative. Overstated luxury is not in my aesthetic vocabulary but saying that, I can (and do) appreciate beautiful, well-made items.

Odile Bouscarat

I find the act of restoring, mending and repairing very meditative, and an art that has been all but lost in today’s world of fast consumerism. During the week when my shop is closed, you can find me sitting in my courtyard, surrounded by my favorite antique textiles, a needle and thread in my hand, stitching tiny mends on an ancient quilt, or repairing a beautiful 18th-century trunk with some beautiful handmade ancient paper.

Everything has a vibration, and I believe that when objects are loved and taken care of, they can extend so much happiness to the owner.

Every weekend I go to the flea market, my eyes are regularly seeking out items that really fill my heart with joy, not something that is essentially commercial or sellable, but an object with a story, a pulse, a palpable poetry. These very special finds allow us to dream and to escape from reality, which can often be heavy and difficult.

I am a very happy, content woman. I suppose the only thing that I am missing in my life is time. I have so many creative projects that I would love to complete but never enough time to see each one through but this is life for many of us creative souls. On the other hand—life is never ever boring, and it is filled with beauty.

Odile Bouscarat

I am Odile Bouscarat. I was born in Morocco, and I spent my earliest years on an air base as my father had brought my mother to Morocco to shelter her from the dangers of World War II. After the war ended, my family moved back to France, finding a house on the Atlantic coast in the city of Bordeaux. Very soon after, my mother became too ill to look after me, and so at only six years old, I was sent to boarding school in a village called ‘Les Bonnes Enfants,’ which means ‘The Good Children’. Looking back, those three years spent at boarding school were perhaps the happiest of my childhood.

My father was a very accomplished and ambitious man, and he rose to the distinguished level of general in the French Air Force. I know that he had always wanted a son and heir, and me being born a girl was a huge disappointment to him. He had so many wishes and dreams for me, hoping that I would have an equally distinguished career (as he was quite modern for his time and not against women working), but unfortunately for him, I hated school and was a really terrible student.

Odile Bouscarat

I always remember, that even from a very young age, I dreamed of becoming an artist. My entire being wanted to study fine arts in college, but in my parents’ minds, it was totally out of the question, inconceivable even. They forbade me from pursuing art as a career. I was devastated and realize now that I carried this intense hurt around with me for decades. It was only when my eldest daughter, Aurelie Alvarez (featured in Where Women Create in March 2018), was accepted into art college that I allowed myself to feel these intense emotions wrapped around my broken dreams. Today, my granddaughter Lili is completing her degree in fine arts, and I am so happy and supportive of her.

Growing up, I consoled my creative soul with literature, music, painting and sculpture, going to the cinema and soaking up art in museums in Paris. Of course, when my two beautiful daughters were born, they became my whole world, and now my four granddaughters bring me much similar joy.

Odile Bouscarat

I remember clearly that my mother was quite indifferent to my lack of academic excellence. She was born with an artist’s sensibility, but I thought it was such a shame that she never really was able to excel with her creativity despite being enormously talented. My mother used to work at the Paris flea markets (Puces de Clignancourt). She wasn’t exactly an antiques dealer, but she went to a lot of flea markets and had really exquisite taste and vision.

I remember coming home from boarding school on weekends, and as my mother hated to cook, we would spend our weekends driving from one antiques dealer to another hunting for treasure. My father would step out to polish his car while my mother stopped to chat and look for antiques, and I would wait impatiently in the car. We never ate at home; we would always dine in restaurants. I remember so vividly that all I wanted was a simple home-cooked meal. The glamour and extravagance were a little lost on me.

Odile Bouscarat

When I was about 29 years old, my mother suggested that I take a stand at the Puces de Clignacourt. I thought it was a wonderful idea, and I recall stuffing my crumbling Renault Dauphine (it was so old that there were plants growing inside the car) full of small treasures that I had found here and there. Along I went to the most famous flea market in France.

I rolled up and set up my humble stand on the pavement, and it was crazy. People swarmed to me, and I sold everything. It was a huge success. After that, I would set up nearly every weekend, sometimes with my young daughter Aurelie on my hip.

So, this was how I found my path to antiques. Sometimes, things would find me. For example, an elderly neighbor would offer me her unwanted things or another would call on me to clear out their attic, and very soon, I found myself driving down the very same roads of Paris and calling on the very same antiques dealers that my own mother had called upon only a decade before.

Odile Bouscarat

Someone once described my work as “Painting with Objects”.

Eventually, I moved from Paris to Provence, and it was only after raising my daughters that I finally allowed myself to fully express my own creativity, opening up a small, intimate boutique in Isle sur la Sorgue in 1991. Over the last twenty-seven years, it has evolved from an antiques boutique into a space where I transform and create with found objects and forgotten treasures.

In the beginning, when I started to express myself artistically, I was really quite terrified. I had kept this side of myself so locked away that it was quite difficult initially to truly communicate. But, slowly I found a way to express myself through my treasured finds; unusual unexpectedly improbably poetic objects.

In deconstructing these beautiful artifacts, I rebuilt myself. I was very fortunate to find a home in the center of Isle sur la Sorgue, which is one of the most important antiquing towns in France outside of Paris. It is a wonderful old village house with plenty of character, discreetly tucked away off the busy main street, on the ‘Impasse de l’hotel de Palerme’. I live in a rambling apartment upstairs and have created a shop space downstairs. It consists of an entryway that opens onto an intimate courtyard and a shop room, sheltered from the rain, wind, cold and even the extreme heat of the Provencal summer. I’ve been here 27 years, but I still feel the very special charm of this space I call home. It is a space that allows me to create—a space that I love very much—and I have filled it with objects, finds and creations that really fill my heart with joy.

Odile Bouscarat

I Discovered Antique Textiles when I moved to Provence. The patterns, the fabrics and the colors were an intense shock to my system. With ancient textiles, all of the fabric colors are from natural plant dyes: indigo, madder root, and reseda are a few of my favourites. It was a real love story to discover the world of the ancient ‘Indiennes’ fabrics, and over the last thirty years, I have been very lucky to have found and saved many extraordinary samples. I have squirrelled away many morsels between my shop and home upstairs, and I love to dip into my collection in order to restore ancient quilts or more recently to create patchwork ‘tapestries’ artwork with 18th-century remnants.

Another one of my great loves is antique wallpaper. I have collected many rolls of precious antique papers and wallpapers over the decades, as you never know when you will need a morsel to repair or restore an ancient paper trunk or marriage box. My latest creations are antique wallpaper covered books; I love to layer strips of ancient wallpapers, playing with colour and texture. I have, for as long as I can remember, saved and recuperated old wallpapers from old houses. Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you will come across old screens upholstered in jute with an outer layer of crumbling wallpaper, and I will buy the screen to salvage the wallpaper no matter the condition. But, these ancient fabrics and papers are becoming harder and harder to find which makes them all the more precious.

Another material, which I love, is wire—what we call ‘fil de fer’ in French as it has so much creative potential. I love to use my old papers to create lampshades; the light delicately dancing through the scrolling handwritten script and fine parchment.

You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.

– Anonymous

I suppose in general I love to create with raw materials and items which are modest. I find folk-art especially evocative. Overstated luxury is not in my aesthetic vocabulary but saying that, I can (and do) appreciate beautiful, well-made items.

Odile Bouscarat

I find the act of restoring, mending and repairing very meditative, and an art that has been all but lost in today’s world of fast consumerism. During the week when my shop is closed, you can find me sitting in my courtyard, surrounded by my favorite antique textiles, a needle and thread in my hand, stitching tiny mends on an ancient quilt, or repairing a beautiful 18th-century trunk with some beautiful handmade ancient paper.

Everything has a vibration, and I believe that when objects are loved and taken care of, they can extend so much happiness to the owner.

Every weekend I go to the flea market, my eyes are regularly seeking out items that really fill my heart with joy, not something that is essentially commercial or sellable, but an object with a story, a pulse, a palpable poetry. These very special finds allow us to dream and to escape from reality, which can often be heavy and difficult.

I am a very happy, content woman. I suppose the only thing that I am missing in my life is time. I have so many creative projects that I would love to complete but never enough time to see each one through but this is life for many of us creative souls. On the other hand—life is never ever boring, and it is filled with beauty.

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