Secret work | Embroider mourning

Noémie Pomerleau-Cloutier was swallowed up by the project.

Published at 4:30 p.m.

The author knows grief well. His first collection of poetry, Stir the kelp, plunges us into the turmoil caused by the death of his father. As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, grief is a presence that never completely leaves us. This strange companion returns from time to time – when he does not haunt us full time – yet we talk very little about this complex relationship.

“There is so much pain in the world, but so little space for [l’exprimer]. » Lamenting the isolation caused by the sentence, Noémie Pomerleau-Cloutier chose to create an interstice with Secret work.

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One of the first completed embroideries.

The challenge is audacious: the artist draws inspiration from forty testimonies from bereaved women and non-binary people to write as many poems. Then, she chooses a verse from each of the poems to make it the heart of an embroidery.

Why 40 testimonials? Because many cultures traditionally dedicate this number of days to mourning.

Why women and non-binary people? Noémie Pomerleau-Cloutier believes that “these are the people who take care, in general”. Of course, men know how to be there for others, but women have been socialized to opt for professions related to care or to take more care of children and aging parents. Noémie was also a professor of francization and a trainer in popular literacy before launching into writing… And it was difficult to dissociate the artist from the speaker when the time came to delve into the stories received.

The death of a sister, of a pet, of a child, of an ideal, of a couple, of innocence, of the person we would have wanted to be… The losses that were suffered entrusted fall within a broad spectrum of suffering to which Noémie is certainly not impervious.

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Noémie Pomerleau-Cloutier

And what does embroidery have to do with it? Noémie Pomerleau-Cloutier began to become interested in it in 2018, when she was experiencing professional burnout. She was looking for an activity that would help her refocus her attention and reduce her anxiety level. To slow down. The one who saw her grandmother make catalonias and her mother darn many clothes opted for embroidery. She quickly found that by keeping her hands busy, she could clear her head. Even more: that textiles allowed the expression of many emotions.

To this end, Noémie was captivated by a scene from the film Portrait of the girl on fire. We see a maid embroidering while discussing an extremely sensitive subject with other women. “I realized that’s what needle spaces are for! »

When she finds her circle of farmers, Noémie Pomerleau-Cloutier works in textiles, but in doing so, she listens to the stories of sisters aged 30 to 80. These are spaces of confidences. Embroidery was therefore a perfect medium to accompany the poems ofSecret workespecially since like writing and mourning, it takes time.

A lot of time.

In fact, each work ofSecret work requires between three days and three weeks of work. The 46-year-old artist is currently working on the tenth embroidery in the series and incorporates memories of the participants into each of them. Sometimes people send him pieces of fabric that belonged to their loved one or even photos of them. Otherwise, Noémie goes in search of recycled materials that will echo the testimonies received. For example, one woman told him that she cried a lot in a purple velvet dressing gown. The author searched until she found used fleece stockings of the perfect texture and color to incorporate fragments into her embroidery.

That’s a lot of delicacy.

“I try to approach people with as much kindness as possible,” Noémie Pomerleau-Cloutier replies. The world is already ugly enough, we don’t need to add more. Sometimes in literature, it can come across as sentimentality or complacency. “This book is sure to be full of good feelings!” » Yes, it’s full of good feelings, but it’s also the most violent affair I’ve ever done. »

To plunge into the loss of others is necessarily to reopen one’s own wounds. If Noémie was swallowed by her Secret work, however, she moves forward with a new certainty: “We are linked. Everyone. By our ailments, our defense mechanisms and our resilience. »

As long as you are walking in the same pain, you might as well take the time to observe yourself injury by injury.

See the embroidery ofSecret work



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