Jérôme Blanc was born in Geneva in 1978 and grew up in a family keen on promoting creativity. He became acquainted with manual labour at an early age in the locksmith shop of his father, who is also passionate about boat restoration. After five years of study at the School of Arts and Crafts in Geneva in woodworking and carpentry, obtaining his degrees in 1998 and 1999, he started travelling abroad.
While in Australia he perfected his knowledge of English and was first introduced to woodturning. This enduring revelation gave rise to an ever growing interest and would entice him always closer to wood carving.
It is indeed after a training course with Tricia and José Lehete that his career as a woodturner began. Back in Geneva, he set up his own woodworking, sculpture and woodturning business, while going away regularly in order to learn from French wood turner masters (Marc Ricourt; Jean-François Escoulen; Alain Mailland).
His practice has earned him several awards (especially the 1st Prize at the European Contest of the Art of Woodturning in Bréville in 2006; the 1st Prize Pop Purchase Award from the American Association of Woodturners in 2009; the 1st Prize at Arts Pluriels - Château de Réchy in 2011, a selection for the Prix Jumelles in 2011) and some residencies, among which the International Woodturning Exchange in Philadelphia in 2009, one of the most recognized woodturning events. He’s also invited to give demonstrations at symposiums organized by national professional associations (United States, France, Australia, Great-Britain).
Jérôme Blanc regularly takes part in exhibitions in Switzerland, Europe and the United States. His works have been acquired by various public and private institutions, such as the Musée Départemental du Bugey-Valromey, The Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia and the AAW Gallery of Wood St Paul Minneapolis.
Jérôme Blanc always works on species of local green wood. Still moist, green wood is softer and offers fine surprises while deforming itself when drying. The wood as such is intrinsically interesting in its background and the story of its arrival at the workshop adds many levels of interpretation to the wood turner’s pieces. But the artist never highlights the wood as his main objective. Whereas wood is undoubtedly at the very heart of his creation, the material itself doesn’t represent the core of his creation.
The production of a piece begins with drawing. While returning regularly to his preparatory drawings, the woodturner allows himself to be guided by the wood volume inhabited with both identity and strong character. The piece of wood’s history is always important to Jérôme Blanc, the context of its felling, the environment in which the tree has grown and the idea of its relation to human beings are all inspiring. Its scent is a constant reminder of the tree history that he has learned to know.
While exploiting the deformations appearing during the drying process, increased sometimes by the knots in the wood, Jérôme Blanc doesn’t play around with cracks. A close control of the drying process and a precise carving will allow him to avoid odd accidents, which might ruin several days of work. But that risk, that unexpected event, that unlikely success are also sources of inspiration and motivation for the sculptor.
Jérôme Blanc slices up his piece, weighing several tens of kilograms, and places it many times on the turning machine before reaching its final stage. Hours are spent hollowing out the pieces to achieve the fineness and softness of wood, eventually revealing sculptural shapes weighing only a few ounces. These operations are technically difficult and can be dangerous for the wood turner: the pieces can break apart in a fraction of seconds and send bits flying through the workshop.
There is in art, categories, hierarchies, prejudices, judgments, what is considered “in” and what is considered “out”. But at the bottom of it, art is life and Jérôme Blanc is unquestionably living. Strangely enough, there is between the sculptor and his works a contrast. Apparently disorganised and hurried, though always smiling and welcoming, his hands offer the viewer artworks imbued with lightness and serenity.
Their undeniable class, their perfect realization require calm and concentration. From his early works onward, he has been looking for new forms, new materials and textures. Experimentation characterizes his work through which he also proposes new kind of unions.
He has tried an unexpected marriage (Punky series, 2004) between wood and metal, and then with silicone resin, a flexible material manufactured from contemporary industry that he unites to the classic shapes of a natural material, wood. The round soft belly of his containers is adorned with sharp silicone points evoking bracelets and punk hair spikes, whose flexibility causes surprise to the viewer.
The union between wood and acrylic is another of his discoveries. In the series Lumi-Naissance (2003-2012), he works once more with a synthetic material that allows subtle light effects when the light beam reveals the material in all its transparency and color. Over the years, his creations have become even more polished and refined.
Composed of elongated volumes pierced on both sides, the Osmose series displays works of ethereal quality whose lightness seems to defy gravity. The shapes contemporaneity is further enhanced by the steel wire being stretched over the wood.
Discovered through German artist and friend Rüdiger Marquarding (2006), tin inlay offers him yet a new playground. The potassium silicate and tin paste is applied to the wood surface, embedding itself in the wood grain or any other crevice, creating a setting of fine goldsmith aspect. In 2012, this technique was applied to tree patterns, geometric designs or details of city maps engraved on wooden containers. They perfectly illustrate the woodturner sources of inspiration such as nature, the urban environment and its design.
When not working on inlay technique, Jérôme Blanc turns his attention towards hues which are evoking Asia and boldly makes use of the traditional wood lathe potential, whose simplicity fascinates him. By operating it in reverse rotation mode, he manages to create lively colored landscapes on his wood volumes. His sculptures are adorned with inks, guided by the centrifugal force and controlled by the artist. These new pieces are accompanied by their pictorial equivalent developed on paper, which is mounted also on the turning machine.
The surface decoration can be very varied for the woodturner: pencil, utility knife or chisel striations, the expressiveness of Jérôme Blanc is at its peak when approaching the final phase of his work. Sometimes colored with Chinese ink, via tinting or by the action of oxidization which creates a burnt wood effect when the tannin reacts with iron and acetic acid. But the texture of the wood is always visible. He occasionally plays with fire when burning his piece on embers causing an abrupt contrast between the fine colored and weathered parts and the coarseness of the material appearing under the action of fire.
By his hyperactivity, Jérôme Blanc truly belongs to his time. An age concerned with ecology which might benefit from a return to simplicity. These contemporary environmental issues preoccupy the sculptor and are reflected in his creations. More fundamentally, he offers pure and simple shapes made of a natural element that comes from the earth and can return to the earth.
The woodturner celebrates the passage of wood on earth through an art filled with generous convictions: for him, everyone is an artist, "it is a question of state of mind and motivation." Open to everything and everyone, Jérôme Blanc immersies himself in the world and the movements surrounding him without feeling at all concerned by the limits.
2016 Demonstrator at the 30th Symposium of the AAW, Atlanta (USA)
2015 Collaboration new zealand, Whangarei (NZ)
2013 Collaboration l'Art et la Matière, Aiguines (FR)
2013 Demonstrator at AWGB Symposium, Loughborough (GB)
2013 Demonstrator at Turnfest Symposium , Brisbane (AU)
2011 Demonstrator at the 25th Symposium of the AAW, St.Paul (USA)
2010 Creation of the enterprise for Architectural Model Maq 3, Geneva (CH)
2009 Artist Residency at the Wood Turning Exchange of Philadelphia (USA)
2005 Woodturning and sculpture trainer in Geneva (CH)
2004 Woodturning and sculpture training with Marc Ricourt (F)
2003 Woodturning training with M. Jean - François Escoulen (F)
2001 Creation of the Jérôme Blanc woodworking enterprise, Geneva (CH)
2000 Woodturning training in Australia with José and Tricia Lehete (AUS)
1998 - 1999 Carpentry training at the Geneva School of Arts and Crafts (CH)
1994 - 1998 Woodworking training at the Geneva School of Arts and Crafts (CH)
Awards and Distinctions
2016 The Masters' Choice Award de l’AAW, Atlanta (USA)
2014 1st Prize at the contest ”le Fil” Plan-les-Ouates (CH)
2011 1st Prize at the Châteaux de Réchy Contest (CH)
2010 2nd Prize at the contest “City” Plan-les-Ouates (CH)
2009 1st Prize Pop Purchase Award AAW Albuquerque (USA)
2006 1st Prize at the European Woodturning Contest , Bréville (F)
Acquisitions from Public Institutions
2015 Museum of Carouge, Carouge-Genève (CH)
2009, 2011 The Center for Art in Wood , Philadelphia (USA)
2010 The Gallery of Wood Art , St. Paul - Minneapolis (USA)
2009 Decoration Funds of the City of Plan-les-Ouates (CH)
2006 Museum of Bugey -Valromey, Ain (F)
2016 The Center for Art in Wood, exhibition "WOOD, REVISITED", Philadelphie, (USA)
2016 Musée de Carouge, exhibition, "Imaginer créer façonner", Carouge – Genève (CH)
2016 Adam Blue Gallery & Collectors of Wood Art "Why Wood", SOFA Chicago (USA)
2015 Gallery Lionel Latham, Geneva (CH)
2015 Salon Révélation, Grand Palais, Paris (F)
2015 Gallery YvArt, Yverdon (CH)
2014 Collectors of Wood Art "Beyond Boundaries", SOFA Chicago (USA)
2013 Gallery -J- J Hofstetter , Fribourg (CH)
2012 Gallery Lionel Latham, Geneva (CH)
2012 The Center for Art in Wood , Philadelphia (USA)
2011 Gallery Ramstein. Basel) (CH)
2011 Gallery Artsplurieles, Château de Réchy (CH)
2010 Gallery YvArt, Yverdon (CH)
2009 Gallery -J- J Hofstetter, Fribourg (CH)
2009 Gallery Wood Turning Center Philadelphia (USA)
2008 SEMA Gallery, Paris (F)
2007 Laboratorio Gallery in Venice (I)
2007 Gallery Marianne Brand, Carouge (CH)
2007 Gallery of the Hotel de Ville, Yverdon CH)
2006 Design Biennal Luzern (CH)
2006 Embargo Gallery , Paris (F)
2005 Gallery of the Hotel de Ville, Yverdon (CH)
2005 Exhibition « Tout en bois » at the Museum of Charmey (CH)
2004 Gallery Delafontaine in Carouge, Geneva (CH)
2016 Dictionary Carougeois, Carouge, (CH)
2016 Wood Revisited, The Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphie, (USA)
2016 Turning 30, AAW, Saint-Paul, (USA)
2014 Beyond Boundaries, Collectors of Wood Art, Saint-Paul, (USA)
2012 Robin Wood’s Cores Recycled, The Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphie, (USA)
2011 Woodturning Today a Dramatic Evolution, AAW, Saint-Paul, (USA)
2011 Turning to art in wood, The Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphie, (USA)