For the London Design Festival 2014, Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert has joined forces with Champagne Perrier-Jouët to create a unique glass piece called Human Nature to be installed at the Victoria & Albert. Born in Paris but raised on the west coast of Africa, Wintrebert draws on his experience of the world to produce delicate and beautiful glass works. Creating his works at a small factory in Waldsassen, Bavaria, the artist speaks to Aesthetica about his hopes to establish a permanent studio in France and his plans for the V&A.
A: When designing Human Nature did you consider the space in the V&A where it is due to be installed?
JMW: When designing the installation at the V&A, I took into consideration the feeling of the space. I noticed the colour of the brick, the glass roof and its natural light and the overall geometric shapes of the architecture. The overall feeling is pretty stale which makes a perfect backdrop for what I am looking to accomplish with this installation. Another dimension I used as inspiration was the Perrier-Jouët bottle designed by Emile Gallé. By adding enamelled flowers to a simple everyday champagne bottle he was able to add beauty to a very common and simple experience. Increasingly I believe that contributing beauty to our lives is so important.
A: Why is glass the medium you use to create art? What do you like about it?
JMW: I use glass to express myself because the process of making the actual material is magic. There is something incredible about how this hot molten liquid crystallises as it cools down. Its transparent quality materialises the light which shines through. In some ways I like to think I sculpt light.
A: What is it that inspires you to make art?
JMW: What inspires me to make art comes from deep within. Like most people life is and has been a constant struggle. At moments it can feel so unfair and hopeless. But, once in a while something happens and it all seems magical and whimsical and it’s those experiences most of us look for to make sense of it all. In many ways this is what inspires my work. I am obsessed with trying to capture those moments in my sculptures.
A: Do you think art has the power to transform the spaces we live in?
JMW: Art has many uses and one of them is its ability to transform the spaces we live in. The first cave drawings did not just tell a story but they also decorated and added beauty to those walls. This beauty was so potent that it has transcended our history consistantly, opening our minds and our hearts for tens of thousands of years. Its amazing how something so simple can have such a powerful effect on us. Human Nature is really about exploring this very basic and yet incredible power with very simple forms and colours and thanks to the support of Perrier Jouët who have this as a part of there DNA, I will hopefully be able to accomplish this with the big up coming installation at the V&A.
A: You have lived all over the world, has this affected your artistic practice?
JMW: Living all over the world has affected my artistic practice on many levels, growing up I was heavily influenced by it. It has always given me the confidence to express myself freely without any restraint.
A: What do you have planned for next?
JMW: My upcoming plans are to open my own studio in the French countryside where I currently live. I have a dream to create a place where I can share and explore my passion. It is a huge challenge but has become so necessary for me. I have traveled so much my entire life that I really feel the need to stop moving and let my roots grow somewhere.
1. Image courtesy of Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert.