Cécile Davidovici uses embroidery to tell the story of “unspoken melancholia, loss and new beginnings”
After seamlessly shifting between film and embroidery, Cécile now uses intricate threadwork to evoke powerful emotions.
- Roz Jones
- 5 December 2022
When Paris-based artist Cécile Davidovici’s mother passed away, it was embroidery that offered a chance to redirect her creative energy. Having grown up in an artistic family, Cécile was immersed in the creative arts from a young age. She studied theatre in Paris – the City of Light – but was drawn to New York’s flame to pursue filmmaking. There, she wrote award-winning films and shorts. But when her mother passed away, she felt she needed a change. “I picked up a needle and some thread quite randomly in 2018 and became obsessed with embroidery right away,” she tells us. “Making art pieces I can actually touch was a game changer.”
Her first body of work, titled <<1988, threaded the hazy memories of her childhood as depicted in old family home videos. The scenes are warmly rendered onto the cotton and linen tapestries in impossible detail. Her latest project tous les matins du monde sont sans retour retains all that warmth but this time “tells a story of unspoken melancholia, loss and new beginnings", she shares. The bittersweet undertones that underscore the pieces came about by chance; Cécile says that only after the first few did she slowly realise “I could feel a link between them”. And as the collection unspooled, “the link between women, what’s expected of them today and nature” became increasingly clear as the anchoring idea.
In her first project, Cécile’s deft hands got to work mending her memory. But in tous les matins du monde sont sans retour, she looks outwards. “It’s actually my first body of work where the subject strongly interacts with nature in that kindly nostalgic way,” she says in reference to the flowers, clouds and deep blue oceans needled in balmy springtime tones throughout the work. Each piece is different, as is each collection. But in this project, she started with familiar wool and cotton threads. “I love how it creates a new texture and allows me to play with colours and movement in a different, complementary way,” she tells It’s Nice That.
It’s not just subject matter that differentiates tous les matins du monde sont sans retour from her previous work. “On a purely technical point of view, I started to needle felt wool in my backgrounds,” she notes. “I feel my style is intricately linked to the exploration of the technique.” It was her way to include “more nature into my work at the right distance so it doesn’t overwhelm the figures”, she elaborates. On a less technical note, both Cécile’s practice and content probe the dimension of surrender that’s so often associated with nature. “Once I start embroidering, I don’t think about anything else and that’s what I like about it: it’s meditative,” she details. “It becomes completely instinctive, my hands do their own thing. They know more about my work and what I want to relay than I do.”
Like Cécile’s larger body of work, tous les matins du monde sont sans retour is reflective and pensive, gesturing towards our relationship with nature with incredible candour. It reflects our innate capacity for change and hopefully offers some hope for a new beginning.
Cécile Davidovici: Yesterday, tomorrow – Tous les matins du monde sont sans retour (Copyright © Cécile Davidovici, 2022)
About the Author
Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That for three months as an editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design.