Isabelle Lafargue is proud to be practising an art that’s two-and-a-half centuries old. “It takes hours and hours until you can develop your own technique,” she says. She is a porcelain painter at La Butte, the Dieppe, New Brunswick boutique and studio she runs with her husband, Thierry Ruel.
Born on the French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Lafargue specializes in handpainted Limoges porcelain. “Porcelain painting is really two parts—there is the creativity and the painting, and the other side is the firing,” she says. “You have to work a lot to discover how colours will change with firing. For me, that’s a pleasure. You have some very good surprises.”
Until 2012, her studio in Saint-Pierre was one of the last workshops in France devoted to decorative handpainted Limoges porcelain. Lafargue trained in Limoges and became an “Atelier d’Art de France” when her work was juried in Paris in 2011. She moved the business to Moncton in July 2012, after immigrating to Canada with her husband and their three kids. “We really like being here because it’s an opportunity to develop my art,” says Lafargue. “And Moncton is a bilingual city, so I am learning to speak English.”
Though she imports her porcelain from Limoges, she doesn’t stick to classic Limoges patterns and loves creating her own modern designs for her tableware. “I develop my own designs so people see the art in a different way. I love working with precious metals like platinum and fine gold.”
Her career has blossomed since moving to Atlantic Canada. She’s now a juried member of the New Brunswick Craft Council and the Conseil des Metiers d’Art du Quebec. Currently, she’s working on a new pattern inspired by the Maritime Coast. “It will have colours like purple, olive green and gold,” she says.