In conversation with Belgian collage artist Sookie Brarou who holds a Master’s degree in Architectural Engineering from Université Libre de Bruxelles.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
My interest in art started back when I was a child. Later on, I decided to orient my studies towards a field that is both artistic and technical, which is architectural engineering. At the time of my college studies, I was not envisioning to orient my professional career toward something purely artistic. However, I have a very specific memory of the moment when things shifted and when being an artist became a possibility in my mind: I was taking part in a study trip in the South of France with my architecture class. And our architecture teacher gave us the assignment of using paper, glue and scissors to create our own interpretation of the landscape. I think it is that very exercise that created a sparkle inside of me and that made me fall in love with collage.
Do you use a sketchbook? I’m interested in what a sketchbook means to you and your work? or how people develop their ideas.
I do have a sketchbook. If I have a specific idea of the result I want to reach, I make sketches before creating the collage. I also write down some keywords and descriptive sentences. But I don’t systematically know the result of my creation process. It can also happen that I start a collage with no specific intention and I let myself be guided by intuition.
What is it specifically about collage that you like to work with?
My practice of collage started as a ‘school assignment’, then it became a hobby and, with time, it ended up becoming a powerful tool to express my opposition toward norms and conventions. The interesting aspect of collage is that it allows to quickly compose surprisingly improbable scenes, either out of accidental or intentional combinations. The accessibility and flexibility of this medium are definitely what attracted me in the first place.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?
I try to make a timeslot for collage production at least twice a week. Very often, a composition takes a couple of days to be achieved and, as I work on my initial idea, many other concepts arise in my head and I sketch them down for later. The best way for me to unleash my creativity? Scroll through unsplash.com with a cup of tea and some Bossa Nova in the background.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic? I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of the sketchbook and the work to the artist.
It is a very good question. Making art makes me go through a bunch of different emotions (reluctancy, questioning, doubts then satisfaction and pride). I try to avoid making it feel like a “homework” or an obligation, otherwise I just don’t enjoy the process anymore. But when it comes to spontaneous creation sessions, it is definitely relaxing.