BILLYBOY* & LALA - 30 YEARS OF CREATION AND PARTNERSHIP
Artists BillyBoy * & Lala Jean Pierre Lestrade celebrated in 2012 their 30 years of creation and partnership.
Living in Switzerland since 23 June 1997, the two internationally known artists took up residence since August 2011 Delémont, capital of the Republic and Canton of Jura, where was held the Swiss Gay Pride June 30, 2012.
BillyBoy * & Lala were the first gay couple Jura history to make public their partnership recorded February 6, 2012. On the occasion of the Swiss Pride taking place in their city, they wanted to show their commitment to the union of homosexual couples in a symbolic creation.
From an original idea of Lala, who has been collecting folk art anonymous knit toys for more many years. three huge wedding cakes were knitted to celebrate the 30 years of union of the couple as well as a statement for the Swiss Gay Pride which was to be held in their new city on June 30th (also Lala's birthday). The message? Equal rights in marriage and ..... fun!
A successful collective experience
Under the leadership of Lala and after his precise drawings, three artworks, showpiece wedding cakes, were being developed. Each one was to be crowned by a married couple: a straight couple of the man and woman, a couple of men and a couple of women. The particularity of these artworks: they had to be made entirely in knit and crochet!
The ladies who gathered every Thursday evening at the Café Tricot enthusiastically participated in the project. For more than two months they met every Thursday at the local knit shop to work on the three pieces. In groups, they brought home the wool in pink, green, cream or raspberry shades to knit the bands for the different layers of the cakes, built like skyscrapers, while another would take care of the crochet roses and another would do the crochet band (called "tricotin" in French) used for the whipped cream trim decoration.
Three couples were required to top each artwork and of course, it was out of the question to buy them all-ready made in plastic! Lala turned to Cecile Balladino, Facebook friend with whom he shares a common interest for knit creations of all kinds. Cécile has a very active page on Facebook under the name of Eclectic Gispsyland and a blog as well and she featured this "Celebration" project lengthily on them.
If you're on Facebook, here is her page:https://www.facebook.com/eclectic.gipsyland
Cécile Baladino is truly passionate about wool and crochet. She wrote a book on this subject which will be published in early 2013.
On the technical point of view, the three couples had to be 6 inches high, made exclusively in knit or crochet, without any felt or ribbons. Notes on the couples were very directive:
- For the straight couple, a traditional white gown for the bride and a dark suit for men (with or without hat)
- For the male couple, both dressed in a black redingote with top hat.
- For the female couple, two white dresses.
This is what Lala had in mind, which one can see illustrated in his drawings. What arrived by mail was quite surprising and unexpected. "Interracial couples are welcome" stated the text written by Lala and one would soon see that this word was very much supported...
Brides and Grooms
Having made an announcement on Facebook, also transmitted by the blog of Eclectic Gipsyland, Lala was curious to know the reactions, given the importance of this renewed interest in knitting and crochet lately.
To his surprise and that of Cecilia Balladino, even though the response was very enthusiastic and supportive with the various comments, encouragements and congratulations, it was not followed up in practice as one might have hoped. In the end, few people actually worked on the project, which was a bit disappointing. But ultimately, the pieces were assembled, each one with its couple, who all came from France and two from Japan via the blog of Sumiko Watanabe.
Gradually, the couples were indeed sent by the post. First came those of Valerie Brunet who describes herself as follows: "Ex Parisian installed in a village in Burgundy, I have a shop of antiques, collectibles and decoration. When I'm not working, I crochet, sew, embroider, paint ..." . She generously sent a couple of each type of relationship. Valérie Brunet is also the only one who made a male couple and a man/woman couple. Lala had said that interacial couples were welcome and his suggestion was responded to, which is a good sign of open-mindedness in a France inspite of its so-called social regression recently. "The couples we received quite amazed me by their humorous and poetic dimension: they were more cartoon than I imagined. They are real creations that touched me deeply by their imagination and sensibility: the message that I wanted to communicate with them instantly passed. Every knit married couple is really the cherry on the cake!" Lala said.
Valerie Brunet's couples have an irresistible look, full of humour and tenderness. Lala chose to match the character of the stout man with the tall Black girl, because Lala thught they were a perfect couple. The stout character was originally intended to be part of the gay couple, but Lala changed the couples around and Valérie agreed. They were baptized Josephine and Otto. He called the two boys, Samir and Jean-Maxence (this was a nod to the fictional character invented by Joe Bassin on Facebook). As for the couple of lesbians, they were named Mary (which is an Irish girl with red hair) and Farida, who has a great comical expression, looking kind of pissed-off as she was reluctant to wear a gown on the most beautiful day of her life.
Valerie Brunet also has a lovely blog dedicated to crochet. She realizes all year round cute characters that you can buy. We strongly recommend that this blog as it is a very good way to start a collection. It was she who was the winner because its three characters have adorned the final artworks. To take a look at the process of the making of the three couples, here are the links:
Received also from Montbéliard in France came a hilarious married couple by Gwenola Guidé who is a freelance journalist at the newspaper L'Est Republicain. This time it is obviously an Arabic and Black couple! Two pairs of girls (again!) from Japan, a different sensibility: one very little girl looking what the Japanese call kawaii, were made by Naomi Kobayashi, and another which is almost science fiction looking by Sanae Okusawa.
Last but not least, after incredible postoffice mishaps - we really thought they were lost forever - two girls by Croch'ti Vilaine arrived from France. They are a charming duo rather bosomy and their faces have no mouth, it is a small aside to the fact Brittany's heroine is the popular cartoon of Bécassine who has no mouth as well.
Croch'ti Vilaine also has a blog, which I highly recommend. Her creations are as cute as they are humorous: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Les-crochtis-de-Malvoyoute/124730104253526
The last week of June saw the move to mounting the artworks at the workshop of BillyBoy* and Lala. Everyone worked late into the night, in a cheery atmosphere. It was a pleasure to see the pieces take shape, the foam structures made by Alec Stefanek and Lala. J-1 day finally arrives, everything is ready ...