Hèléne Moreau

Silk in Ortigia

Which is your history?
In 1986 I moved to Palermo, joining a group of friends who were musicians, craftsmen and artists. At time, I was coming from working experiences in the social sector in France and with that know-how I started a new life in Palermo, where I got deeply in contact with the world of the theatre and of the stage.
That was a really important opportunity that allowed me to experiment the technique of Serti on silk (a colouring technique) both in the realization of theatrical costumes and in set-design.

Why have you chosen Ortigia as main location?
With my partner, who is now my husband, we created a professional training course of fabric decoration where I taught the Serti technique to many women, not only from Palermo. Then I’ve been working for traditional performances, creating costumes for the Curculio di Plauto, and on that occasion I discovered Ortigia, amazing white pearl on a shining sea…such an inspiration for the production of my silk foulards!
In 1992 we moved to Ortigia. At time, nothing was suggesting a touristic development of the area, when I started to work with passion.
Now that Ortigia has become a very popular touristic centre I still work with even more motivation to my artisanal production.

Please, tell us which is the process that you follow to bring to life your beautiful creations.
I start the decoration on the panel from a total white silk, previously cut and fringed according to its dimension. I weld it on the loom and draw the décor with a natural resin, the guttaperca, then I paint it with brushed natural dyes. The colours spread easily all over the thin silk surface, creating bright shapes. The final step is the steam fixing, so that the silk will be washable and usable as a foulard or a decorative panel. I realize personally also the packagings with recycled paper and magazines.

Which is your inspiration for the motives of your foulards?
Surrounded by the baroque island of Ortigia, I couldn’t help being inspired by the architecture, the decorations on pottery, the traditional embroidery and of course by the sea. The beauty of this land is what inspires me everyday.

Who is your client?
At first my clients were basically locals, people from Siracusa and all over Sicily. Then, as the tourism developed, travellers started to be interested in my work, watching me in my lab. Walking through the city you can see me creating my pieces from the beginning till the end.

Hélène Moreau
via Roma 27
96100 Siracusa