New takes on an old craft

Contemporary Quebec leatherwork

Leather is part of our everyday lives. At once traditional and modern, its appeal is timeless. The objects on view here—shoes and bags, boxes and board games—speak to the fact that this material has quietly made its way into our lives, taken its place there unobtrusively, and is a means for artistic expression. It stands out through the constant pull between the commonplace and the unusual. A leather object is the product of an age-old activity that has continuously adapted to current tastes and trends. It also reflects the technique of the person who has designed and created it, through cutting, stitching, covering and assembly. The smell of leather transports us to artisans’ studios, where we imagine them bent over their work, uniquely committed to making objects by hand.

Each piece is a gift—that of the artisan, and of those who have passed on their craft to him or her. Leather artisans live within a paradox: they must be contemporary to survive, but at the same time they must remain faithful to the tradition they carry on. Art and technique are often inseparable, and artisans’ expertise is a vehicle of artistic potential, as shown by the mainly one-of-a-kind pieces in this exhibition. Within the context of a sustainable economy, these natural and durable leather objects curb waste and overconsumption. Furthermore, the skill and enterprise of their makers have made a mark beyond Quebec’s borders.

The artisans whose work is featured here are: Atelier C.U.B (Sophie Gailliot and Richard Pontais); Jennifer Beaudoin-Boisvert;Gaëlle Couléard; Frédérick Bélanger Lacourse; Lise Bourgault; Corinne Bourget; Lorraine Choquet; CORIA (Andréanne Pinard); Jérôme Daneau-Pitre; Thomas Doucet-Lupien; Pascale Falardeau; Maylissa François; Charlotte Isis Gervais; Niki Jessup; Claire Kusy; Rachel Lauer; Stéphanie Lemire; Émilie Longchamps (and Maude Lauziere-Dumas); Emmanuelle Michalet; Claire Nadon; OH Faber maroquinerie (Diane Lefebvre); Jérôme Pilon; Hélène Poitras; Anastasia Radevich; and John Fluevog (Vancouver).

This exhibition has been organized in collaboration with the Centre des métiers du cuir de Montréal.