MCCT Gallery
Lobby Gallery atThe Montreal Centre for Contemporay Textiles

  Being in the right place at the right time has undoubtedly influenced my life story. The Centre of Contemporary Textiles was not created in mysterious ways. In the late 1980s, the Quebec Ministry of Education gave the green light for establishment of an educational programme for craft techniques. The Ministry was largely convinced that a new generation could be drawn to weaving and knitting.

Having a great passion for weaving, I managed to convince the bureaucrats that this technique is a part of our collective history, at least for the women of Quebec. Together with my then colleague, Régine Mainberger, now sadly deceased, and several teachers from Montreal Old School, we developed the first programme in “Textile Construction”, including weaving and knitting techniques.

From the outset, we were determined to explore the new technologies just emerging at the time. There is no doubt that this was a decisive factor in our success. The new generation of students felt drawn to schools offering textile programmes with state-of-the-art equipment. Our decisions were inspired by our unwavering determination to equip our graduates with every possible tool they needed to pursue a successful career path, whether as designers, artists or craftspeople.

Our preference for the new technologies gave our project credibility. The Ministries of Education and Culture supported our plans, assisting us in the acquisition of school equipment - computers, jacquard looms and electronically controlled knitting machines. Since then, we have taken care to ensure that our equipment is always up to date, and we now also own a semi-industrial electronic embroidery machine.

sewing room
sewing room

 And here is another of our special features: after completing a course, graduates can use our school’s workshops free of charge for another two years to help them prepare for their practice.

Our technological bias was useful. Our jacquard course put students in touch with industry. Several years after the opening of our Centre, we were awarded a grant for acquisition of our first jacquard loom. Since then, students have been able to pursue their projects with a greater degree of technical knowledge. I also began offering summer courses to an international public, as first announced in TF 1/97. Since then, some 300 people have participated.

This group of artists has brought us a large number of weaving commissions. We were obliged to acquire another jacquard loom, and are thinking of purchasing a third and employing a third weaver. This allows us to earn an income of our own, and increases our graduates’ options for gaining experience. One of them now coordinates all our jacquard projects.


We intend to confront artists with a special type of warp: for some years, our students and several artists have wanted to experiment with a double warp in order to use materials with idiosyncratic properties that produce 3D effects. A project of this nature is due to begin this year, and will enable us to achieve new textile qualities with a minimum of additional effort.

To enable us to promote emerging young talents, we intend to offer a free internship every year; the winner, selected by a panel of judges, will be able to use all Centre facilities to see through an exhibition project or develop a collection. Such projects may involve a jacquard loom, or an electronic knitting or embroidery machine, including the necessary instructions on operating computer technology.

Some of our projects will offer the benefit of employing industrial automatic jacquard weaving or knitting machines. To this end, we very much hope to form alliances with textile companies.

Finally, we hope to invest greater efforts in an international project in a developing country, preferably one that would help a group of women develop textile production lines.

All these projects serve two purposes: provision of work for our graduates, and ensuring the survival and dynamism of our Centre.

About the author

Born in Montreal in 1943, Louise Lemieux Bérubè graduated in art history from the University of Quebec. Her woven creations won several prizes, both in Canada and abroad. In 1990, together with Régine Mainberger, she established the Montreal Centre described above, consisting of a training and production facility, a gallery and a documentation centre

(http://www.textiles-mtl.com ).

Photos provided by MCCT and used with permission.
[editors note: this artical has been reprinted from ETN Textile Forum  1/2009 March with permission]
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