Interview Feature with Colette Saint Yves

Where did you grow up? Where are you located now?
I grew up in a very small village not very far from Paris. My house was isolated from the village. A peaceful place with a lot of trees. Now I live in Lille, a university town in the north of France. But I often return to my parent's house.

Have you attended any schooling for art?
No, but I took cinema courses in high school and I was often in visual arts courses as an auditor. It was a ruse to see exhibitions. Haha. I now study cinema at the university.

What came first: collages or photography?
If I remember correctly, I think it was photography. (A kodak disposable at 8 or 9 years old.)

What do you do in your spare time?
I love walking in nature with my cats, watching films or reading a book, going to flea markets, visiting museums, being with my friends and dreaming.

Do you have any interesting or abnormal personality traits?
Hummm, I don't know. I certainly have interesting or abnormal personality traits, but it was too difficult to answer by myself so I asked my very good friend Simon and he answered that I'm "a passionate-maniac compulsive, marginal and idealist". Pretty close to the truth, I think.

How long does it take for you to think of a concept and carry it out? Do your collage pieces take a while to construct?
In general, I have a very clear idea of the photos I take and it can take times. But sometimes I just have a place in my mind and a model and things happen naturally. It is the same for my collages.
Most of the time I have a story in my mind and I try to collect the right images to put together. Sometimes I have an image that I would like to use but can't find the others to go with. It's quite like a puzzle.

Where do you find the images that are being used in your collages? I notice that there are a lot of beautiful old photographs being used.
I find my images in old books, encyclopedia, vintage cinema magazines, 60's fashion magazine. The oldest book I have "murdered" (I feel guilty to cut in a such old and beautiful book) is a 1880's fashion book.

Who is an inspirational figure in your life?
Very hard to tell, very hard. I'll say I have a lots of inspirational figures. Oddly it could be very opposite kind of persons, like a real person, an old lady from my village or a director, silent actor/actress... or even a fictional character. It depends of my mood.

What about favorite artists/photographers? Can you name a few?
I have a lot of names: Willam H. Mortensen, Joseph Cornell, Alfred Cheney Johnston, Edward Steichen, Segundo de Chomón, Lee Friedlander, Busby berkeley, Julia Margaret Cameron, Constant Puyo, Larry Jordan, Guy Maddin, Grete Stern, Leonor Fini, Dora Maar, Paul Nougé, Max Ernst, Leopold-Emile Reutlinger, Clarence H. White, Nusch Eluard, Madame D'ora, František Drtikol, William Blake and many many more, it could be a never ending list.

Do you have a favorite photograph or collage that you've created? Which one is it & why?
My favorite photograph is certainly one from the Eden series because it's very close to how I had originally imagined it. (Seen above)

How often do you create pieces of work?
I can create two collages in one week and sometimes, it could take me one month for one collage.

Have you ever shown your work in any exhibitions?
No, I have never shown my work. Maybe one day....

You can view more of Colette's work on her flickr or website