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Florence Doumenc Roca: Life Of A French Artist In Japan



January 23rd, 2011

  Florence Doumenc Roca is a French porcelain painter and jewelry designer living in Japan with her family. She discusses with us her passion for the art and how she adapted to a totally new environment and still pursued her passion when she moved to Tokyo, Japan.

CelebrityDialogue: How and when did you move to Japan?
Florence: I first moved to Tokyo in 2000 following my husband who moved to Japan for his car company. I lived there for 6 years and then moved back to Paris, France for 2 years. I have been back to Tokyo since August, 2008 following my husband’s return.

CelebrityDialogue: What was your feeling when you set your foot for the first time on Japanese soil?
Florence: A strange feeling it was combining no fear of the unknown (It was my first time in Asia) and an impression of “déjà vu” as if I had been there before.

CelebrityDialogue: How, in your opinion, is Japan different from Europe?
Florence: Tokyo in particular is noisy. Everywhere you go there are sounds, traffic sounds, crows, yakimo and yuba vendors, trucks asking for your old appliances, Nationalists’ trucks yelling etc… Everyone is always on the move unlike Europe.

CelebrityDialogue: How did you overcome the communication gap in the beginning?
Florence: I always carried my pocket dictionary with me together with a little book containing useful sentences that could be useful in any situation. I sketched a lot to make myself understood!!

CelebrityDialogue: How and why did you learn porcelain painting?
Florence: I happened to exhibit my watercolor paintings in a municipal space where some porcelain painters were also exhibiting. Watching their work gave me the key to one of my searches: how to keep the transparency of the water coloring technique and being able to correct it like the oil painting technique when it gets too heavy . That’s the power of porcelain painting: always being able to correct it until you actually fire it up! I  learned many techniques from many different ateliers in Paris, in the Sevres manufacturing (I  used to  go back there on training during my first stay in Tokyo , as my teacher was the latest Meilleur Ouvriere de France – highest ranking artisan) and also in Tokyo and Imari.

CelebrityDialogue: How did you manage your time with children?
Florence: I painted after I dropped the children to school until I would pick them up after school (from roughly 9 AM to 2:30 PM). Then I would deal with their homework and dinner…and would start painting again after my husband would return and had dinner (that is, from 9:30 until I would feel tired ( 2 or 3 in the morning!) or finished my ( commissioned ) work!

CelebrityDialogue: What is the focus and style of your art?
Florence: It is to find an interesting combination of the  shape of  porcelain that I can buy.  Then I try to set the color and motifs so that all can be harmonious with food  and also can match  any other different container ( plate, bowl etc ) that would be set on the table together with my own pieces.

CelebrityDialogue: How did you learn to design jewelry?
Florence: I started making fresh water-pearl necklaces first for myself and then for friends and customers . Gradually, I  had to learn to become more and more professional. I had ideas but needed to work on how technically to give birth to those ideas. As I sold more and more, some people told me “you are not professional as you do not have a diploma”. So I went back to school in Paris, The”Boulle School” where I graduated as a Professional Jeweler after 2 years. I learned all the techniques ( jewelry designing and making stones , etc) and when I got back to Tokyo I looked for a school to keep learning techniques and acquiring the know-how . I believe I am on my way and probably will be walking on that way of learning jewelry designing the Japanese way until I die!!!

CelebrityDialogue: What is your artistic name? What does it mean?
Florence: Fleur d’Huytesa. It means Flower from Huytesa. Huytesa was a domain owned in ancient times by my husband’s family, so I heard. It is used by a branch of the family named Roca d’Huiteza but not ours. I liked the sound of Huytesa . As  I wanted to be reborn as an Artist, I decided to call myself Fleur (shorter than Florence but with the same root ) and to belong to an imaginary hidden garden somewhere between East and West , Paris and Tokyo,  I used Huytesa my with my own spelling so that I could feel it would be mine .

Photo credit : Japan Times

CelebrityDialogue: Where do you do most of your work? At home?
Florence: I make all my porcelain painting at home. I create my jewelry at home but use the facilities  ( machines, acid, fire) of 2 ateliers, one in Shibuya and one in Okachimachi, Tokyo city.

CelebrityDialogue: Do you exhibit your creations? Where?
Florence: I do exhibit my creations in Galleries I rent for the occasion or during  special events ( painting demonstrations, charity events, auction salons etc..).

CelebrityDialogue: Do you speak fluent Japanese now?
Florence: I have improved a lot! I follow classes in Japanese, I communicate with artisans in Japanese… and I can manage to make myself understood and understand what is going on around me! I wish I could read more!!

CelebrityDialogue: What is the best thing that you like about this country?
Florence: Its people: My Japanese mother (Noriko san), my “senseis” (used to refer to teachers in Japanese)! –Yukasan,  Shinjisan, Kikuchisan and my Japanese friends.

CelebrityDialogue: What is the biggest dream of your life? Or has it already been fulfilled?
Florence: I am a dreamer. I dream my life every day. I wish my dreams one day become reality…and I live happily ever after…

CelebrityDialogue: Thank you Florence. It was a pleasure.

January 23rd, 2011


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