Manitoba artist pays homage to the royal family with woolen sculptures
Sitting silently at her work table, with the only noise the scrape of wool pushing and pulling, Rosemarie Péloquin’s hands moved cautiously as she made the life-size bust of HRH Prince Charles entirely in natural fibre.
She likes the Zen approach, she says. “I like the silence. I like to hear the crackle of the wool. I like to be silent because the wool speaks to me and the person too.”
Today, the Manitoba artist will showcase his work to the prince himself when he meets wool enthusiasts at the Campaign for Wool Canada — a not-for-profit industry association — in St. John’s, T. -NL, at one of the first stops of his three- day trip across the country alongside his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
“It’s going to be really interesting for him to see himself,” she said. “I’m very honored and excited to meet him. I think it’s great that the campaign sponsor has a bust of himself made from Canadian wool.”
Péloquin, from St-Pierre-Jolys, worked on the bust for months and says she feels like she got to know the prince by looking at countless photos and listening to videos. It digs deep into research to present more than just a model. Her goal is to capture the essence of the person and for this piece she says she wanted to show the prince’s concern for people and his kindness.
“Sometimes I had to put it aside when I started to lose the features, only coming back to work after ruminating. Once I felt I had absorbed enough, I worked instinctively.”
The bust, which she playfully dubs the Prince of the Prairie Province, is made entirely of local fibers. And Péloquin can identify the origin of each piece of wool, sometimes down to the sheep from which it comes.
“The eyes, the teeth, everything is needle felted wool. The wool on his head, his hair is from Merlin, a Wensleydale ram from Manitoba,” she says.
The prince will not just meet. Péloquin will unveil — for the first time — a bust of the Queen on which she has been working for a year.
“She came on the plane with me and she will be revealed tomorrow. I don’t think even Prince Charles knows about it.
“She was a lot of fun to do, although it’s hard to do bling with yarn. She has beads and she wears a maple leaf brooch, all of which are needle felted, and it took a long time.”
The piece shows her smiling with a “twinkle in her eye” and the long curly yarn that Péloquin used gave her iconic headpiece a bit more volume.
“I think it’s not just the essence of the sheep that passes, but also of her,” she said. “There’s this kind of fun aspect of her that’s there, and we might not see it and she might not show it all the time in public, but it’s there.”
The artist is happy with the result of the two pieces, saying that although the busts weren’t designed to sit together, they look good side by side.
“We were going for tea before I left and I invited my sisters and brothers and my in-laws but we ran out of time so we had a happy hour instead because it’s the year of the Jubilee.
“(The Queen’s) has been working for 70 years, I think she deserves to have fun!”
Founded in 2010, the Campaign for Wool was launched in Canada in 2014 when Prince Charles and Camilla visited Pictou, Nova Scotia.
CEO Matthew Rowe said the prince’s support was at an all-time low for the national woolen industry as fast fashion forces depleted demand for the age-old textile.
In 1941, Canada sold over 10 million pounds of wool, according to Statistics Canada data. By 2006, sales had dropped to around 2.8 million pounds.
Rowe said the campaign commissioned the Péloquin busts in recognition of all the prince has done to strengthen a fiber that has been ‘woven into Canadian history’ since French settlers brought the first sheep to the country. in the middle of the 17th century.
“(The campaign) has kind of – pardon the pun – welded the global wool industry together,” Rowe said. “It’s a great opportunity to check in to show what we’ve been able to accomplish for Canadian wool.”
– with files from the Associated Press