Rug HookingGérard and Annie-Rose Deveau were rug-hooking artists and pillars of the rug hooking industry in Chéticamp, Cape Breton during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.
The Acadian village of Chéticamp is located on the western shore of Cape Breton; there, a unique style of rug hooking developed in the 20th century — photo-realistic renderings using hand-dyed wool in hundreds of shades. These hooked rugs were elevated from utilitarian items to wall-hung artworks.
Seaside landscape by Annie-Rose and Gérard Deveau
Crystal Ross is a practicing rug hooking artist with a deep family history in the craft. Her grandparents Gérard and Annie-Rose Deveau had a deep connection to the rug hooking industry at Chéticamp. Andrea spoke to Crystal and her uncle Cyrille Deveau, son of the Deveaus, about the history this tradition and their family’s legacy.
Gérard and Annie-Rose Deveau were key in immortalizing this tradition in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. They were practicing rug hookers themselves but also established the Elizabeth LeFort Gallery at Les Trois Pignons Cultural Centre, which honours the work of rug hooking artist Elizabeth Lefort. Annie-Rose was the integral researcher and recorded this history in the book “The History of Cheticamp Hooked Rugs and their Artisans.”
In Conversation, Rug Hooking, Andrea Tsang Jackson
The design on the parkade building is inspired by 30 one- by two-foot rugs that the Deveaus were commissioned to make for the historic Uniacke House in 1967, just one of many commissions of their body of work. The rose and leaves are typical of the Chéticamp style influenced by Lillian Burke and furthered by the Deveaus.
01 Annie-Rose Deveau & Rug Hooking at Chéticamp
Cyrille talks about family life and growing up in the Acadian community of Chéticamp. Rug hooking was always a part of the Deveaus’ life, but later on, Cyrille’s mother, Annie-Rose (née Poirier), started educating the community and tourists about it through demonstrations and programs at the Co-op Artisanale. She was later involved at Les Trois-Pignons Cultural Centre and helped open up the Elizabeth Lefort Gallery there. Annie-Rose travelled around to research and interview many rug-hookers in the area, which led to the publication of the book History of Chéticamp Hooked Rugs and Their Artisans.
02 The Chéticamp style
Cyrille talks about the partnership between his parents and the style that they honed. Annie-Rose would dye several skeins of wool in different shades to achieve a photo-realistic look. They hooked many floral motifs, but also scenery in perfect colours.
03 Annie-Rose’s “tapis fous” or “crazy rugs”
Annie-Rose made unique pieces with yarn ends, which came to be called “tapis fous” or “crazy rugs”. The term comes from the first instance that one of them sold, within a few hours of it being put out in the gift shop. It sold for a “crazy” amount of money. Annie-Rose made one for each of her seven children, each full of meaningful images and motifs specific to their lives — “our lives through my mother’s eyes”, as Cyrille describes. Cyrille also speaks about his parents’ legacy means to him now.
The family of Gérard and Annie-Rose Deveau granted Andrea permission to tell their story in this way.
Chiasson, Anselme & Annie-Rose Deveau. The History of Cheticamp Hooked Rugs and Their Artisans. Lescarbot Publications, 1988.
Langille, Edward. The Story of Lillian Burke. Boularderie Island Press, 2019.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Andrea Tsang Jackson is a Canadian-born visual artist of Chinese descent based in Kjipuktuk / Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her work takes the traditional craft medium of quilting and applies it to a contemporary context.
This project is possible with the participation of many people who offered their time, knowledge, and collaboration.