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As a founder member of the Circle of Patrons at Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique (established in 2011), the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès has supported Les Petits Dégourdis de Sèvres for the past two years. The project combines creative contemporary art with the transmission of exceptional artisan skills.
Les Petits Dégourdis de Sèvres is a project aimed at able-bodied and handicapped school pupils from Hauts-de-Seine (home of the Sèvres porcelain factory). Supported by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, the project teaches children the rudiments of ceramics, with a focus on hands-on manipulation, and the spontaneity and responsiveness of the medium. Looking beyond the perfectionism traditionally associated with ceramics, the project intends to encourage universal access to this vital sphere of artisan expertise, irrespective of the participants’ individual levels of manual dexterity.
Each year, Les Petits Dégourdis de Sèvres involves seven or eight classes, led by a team of teachers and a ‘guest artist’. Pupils create their own work, explore the permanent collections at Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique, and discover exceptional artisan skills while collaborating with an ambitious production, presented in a closing exhibition.
Since 2008, pupils have worked on an annual presentation, Un jardin des sens (‘A garden of the senses’). Focusing first on smell (with perfumer Francis Kurkidjian), followed by taste (with culinary designer Stéphane Bureaux) and sight (with designer José Levy), the 2011-12 season explored touch with artist Christian Astuguevieille. Six ‘sensational houses’ created by the children were installed at the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, near the Sèvres factory, featuring sensations ‘translated’ into ceramics. A book records the progress of this collective project, over the course of the year.
Les Petits Dégourdis de Sèvres is developed by the Inspection d’académie des Hauts-de-Seine and the Centre des monuments nationaux/Domaine de Saint-Cloud, with the regional centre for special needs teaching at Garches.