An artist who conjures up magic

By LINDA LEUZZI
Posted 7/18/19

Cécile Defforey will debut her jewelry line on Friday at 6 p.m. at Pamela Lerner Home & Design, about 40 pieces.

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An artist who conjures up magic

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Cécile Defforey’s jewelry debuts at Pamela Lerner’s

Anyone who attended Pamela Lerner’s exhibit of local artists a couple of weeks ago witnessed guests wearing eye-catching pins and necklaces: a sailor, a butterfly, a lion.

Ah, but these pieces had more than their distinctive shapes; they seemed touched by a magic wand. There were brilliantly colored stones, semiprecious pearls, gold details; the lion wears a crown, the butterfly could be a mask, the French sailor, maybe a boulevardier.

The jewelry was designed and made by Cécile Defforey, a Parisian artist who grew up in Île de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine, where the back of Notre Dame looms. Defforey also lived in Brookhaven hamlet for several years and is now visiting Bellport from her Belgium home. She is exhibiting her jewelry line on Friday at 6 p.m. at Pamela Lerner Home & Design, about 40 pieces. (Call if you plan to come.) 

Playful, mystical scenes have bounded across her canvases that might include a blonde-haired woman with a transparent green cape, who stands by a large butterfly. Look closely and you’ll see a barely perceptible eye. 

As for her jewelry, “I was in Le Marais [the aristocratic district of Paris] and saw a shop that had a glass imitation of stone,” she recalled of the impetus of her new line.  “It shined a lot and was very pretty. So I bought several and made pins of boats and they were a great success.

“I made it more precious by working with a designer of jewelry, so now they are in bronze and sometimes gold.”

Defforey describes her work like an artist. You might get a discourse on light — Defforey thinks it’s brighter here — or she might discuss Matisse and his penchant for New York City because it stimulated him. She pulls out her ideas with gestures and pauses. But they are formed from joy and that’s what she wants the wearer to feel.

“I want to create the happiness of the eye,” she said. “I use noble ingredients and the result must be like a little portrait. I like when they are a little magical, charming. I don’t want serious jewelry.”

Defforey was wearing a butterfly necklace that has a couple of interpretations. Her description: “When the butterfly opens its wings, it’s like a mask,” she said. So the finished product had a bright turquoise splash, a pearl, imitation coral, an amethyst.

The jewelry represents a break in her painting of 30 years; her mother Suzanne Quoyrez was a painter and she and Defforey painted together. They lived in a centuries-old building, surrounded by the artisan details that bathe the Île de la Cité, like the palace since Merovingian times and the Haussmann apartments. Their neighbors were an assortment of colorful people. 

She sees inspiration everywhere and says traditionally, inspiration is always nature and she favors lions, but also arrows. (“I put them in my paintings,” she said. “I like them in the sky like they are escaping.”) The French sailor is an old inspiration of the paintings of boats she did. 

When did Lerner meet her?

“She was shopping for furniture seven years ago for her house in Brookhaven and I discovered she was an artist,” Lerner said. 

They were both wearing Defforey’s pendants; Lerner wore the lion with the crown, Defforey, the butterfly that also looks like a mask. The colors were brilliant. 

What’s her next project? “I don’t know yet,” she answered. “I have clients and can’t offer them the same thing and want them to afford it. If I offer the same thing, I am boring.” 

Cécile Defforey Jewelry Show is taking place Friday, July 19 at Pamela Lerner Home & Design, 145 South Country Road, Bellport. Please call 631-776-2183 if you plan to attend, as space is limited.

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