Dieulefit

armoiries Dieulefit
Mayor

Madame Christine PRIOTTO

Number of inhabitants 3 200
Department Drôme
Town Hall Rue Justin Jouve –BP 75
26220
DIEULEFIT
Tél. : 04 75 46 96 80
image Dieulefit image Dieulefit image Dieulefit image Dieulefit

 

A town of craftsmen and artists

In this territory of Drôme provençale there is a favourable environment for creativity and opportunities to meet craftsmen and artists. There are many here, and they demonstrate their talent and their passion for material, whether clay, wood, leather, fabric, or stone. They all contribute in their own way, with their own special creations and techniques, often revealing how open they are to other types of art. Yet, this town has always been renowned for its art pottery and ceramics.

 

 

Dieulefit : a town with a long history of pottery

In the Dieulefit area, pottery-makers from the 1st century to the first half of the 20th century have been using the same type of clay: a local kaolin-rich clay extracted from the « Les Vitrouillères » pit. This clay enabled pottery-makers to produce heat-resistant ceramics for functional purposes. It also had an aesthetic value due to its unique yellow colour. These caracteristics have made Dieulefit pottery well known as usable art. A potter’s kiln dating back to the 12th century has been found, and the existence of a tile-making workshop from as early as 1421 has been documented. From that time onward, the number of potters has kept increasing. In the 19th century, a ceramics industry settled in Dieulefit, mainly for functional purposes; soon there were more than a hundred workshops in the Jabron valley alone. Pottery as art, breathing new life into the work with clay, started developing with Sully Bonnard in 1910, followed by Étienne Noël, a potter and glass artist as well as painter. Noel created ceramic shapes that are still being used today. Art took an essential role in pottery-making with the leading artist Jacques Pouchain in the 1960s. When those artists have come to settle in Dieulefit, they have continued to use its clay to further evolve its forms and colours.

 

 

An activity still very dynamic

Today, the 42 potters and ceramics artists settled in this territory, Pays de Dieulefit, all feel a connection with and value its long history of pottery. The region attracts many craftsmen and artists, most recently the designer Guillaume Bardet, who worked with local pottery-makers in 2010 and 2011 on a project called « L’usage des jours » (The use of the days). A piece of pottery was created each day for a whole year, and at the end, a total of 365 pieces of innovative shapes had been produced. This work has received the prize «l’Intelligence de la main » (The Hand’s Intelligence) from the Bettencourt-Schuller foundation, resulting in international exposure. In 2012, it has been shown, beyond Drôme provençale —Dieulefit and Montélimar—, at the Cité de la céramique de Sèvres and at the Grand-Hornu site in Belgium ; in the spring of 2013, it will be exhibited at the MUDAC museum in Lausanne.

 

 

A dedicated place : Maison de la Céramique du Pays de Dieulefit

The Maison de la Céramique du Pays de Dieulefit was first established as an association in the 1990s by a group of local potters seeking a place to exhibit their work. In partnership with D’Argiles, an association of ceramics artists from the Rhône-Alpes region, they introduced a ceramic training program in 1997. This pleased the professionals, since they had been concerned about how pottery-making was aging.

The building was renovated and expanded, and today the association—which became a public organisation supported by the Communauté de communes du pays de Dieulefit—has become a modern ceramics centre dedicated to nurturing the transition between the tradition of ceramics in the Pays de Dieulefit and the modernity of today’s ceramics.

The centre includes a permanent museum showing the history of pottery since its origins, a space for temporary exhibitions, a training centre that welcomes 10 trainees a year into a training program that leads to a diploma corresponding to the level « Bac + 2 » (college level).