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Folk x Ingrid Berthon-Moine

Folk x Ingrid Berthon-Moine

Ingrid Berthon-Moine is a French visual artist based in London. Often infused with humour, her work uses sculpture, painting and drawing to examine the construction of identity and its behavioural consequences in our society. Her works not only provide commentary on the state of the world, both on a macro and micro level, but an opportunity for discussion, self reflection, and at times discomfort. Following the overturning of the constitutional right to abortion in America in 2022, she created a series of sculptures around the theme, such as By the Back Door and Copper Killer, both currently on view on the online gallery Similarly, when the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued to make headlines for the wrong reasons, she gave us “Struggly”, a confused male with dangly balls and a comical flaccid penis.

Berthon-Moine has an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths University (2017) . Her work has been shown around the world, including 55SP in São Paulo, Brazil (2022),  the Stadtmuseum in Munich, Germany (2019), the Espace Temoin in Geneva, Switzerland (2018) and Kelder Projects in London (solo show, 2018).

We met Ingrid to discuss her recent collaboration with Folk. Interview by Anne-Celine Jaeger

Can you tell us a little bit about how the collaboration with Folk came about..

I’ve known Cathal McAteer, the creative director of Folk, for a few decades now and we’ve always enjoyed chatting about art and design. I know he’s interested in all things to do with art and creativity. One day, about 18 months ago, I said “Why don’t you pop into the studio and have a look at what I’m doing.” I showed him some of the drawings I’d been making over the years with water colours. He knew what he liked straight away. He had a vision. He was very decisive. It’s quite incredible to see someone being so sure like that. I’m the opposite, I procrastinate… Once he selected the drawings, he then showed it to his design team and they decided to do a fabric for the collection.

How did it feel to release an artwork to a world outside of the direct art world? Did you have to think about it? Were there any second thoughts?

Of course you ask yourself the question… but I was quite open, because I always like new ways of working and when I saw the fabric they chose, and the quality of the printing I was just like ‘Oh my god that’s fantastic’. The colours came out beautiful. He and captured all the little details of the water colours, they are all there. I was really surprised by the quality. I did it on a paper that could be seen as cheap, but they chose the right fabric for it, it complements very well. At the moment I haven’t seen anyone in the street wearing the shirt or dress from the collection yet. If I see that one day, I’ll be like ‘Oh my god that’s my work!’

I have watched your work with great interest over the years, and was able to witness it closely years ago when we shared a studio. Can you tell us a little bit about your process? Where do you begin? How does it evolve?

I started drawing with water colours a few years ago. I used to tell myself I can’t draw, a bit of a self-imposed ban. Watercolours are not the most obvious choice, because it’s not an easy medium to use, but it spoke to me. I really enjoyed the process. I found it quite meditative. The series of drawings that Cathal chose for the Folk collaboration has to do with the female body  - in particular the clitoris. I always refer to these drawings – there are four in this selection – as the clitoris drawings. In the fabric you will see there is a blue little thing, one which is very dark blue. For me it’s like a conceptualised clitoris, and all the flowers you see around it, that look like stamen, those are the nerve endings . The clitoris, as everybody knows, or should know, contains around 8000 nerve endings. I like the fact that the fabric is for women. It’s a feel-good dress. And there is a shirt and a hat too. So you can be covered from head to toe in nerve endings, can you imagine being a giant clitoris…

Your work often suggests something profound about gender whilst also being humorous – something quite difficult to balance and yet you nail it every time… Even going onto your website yesterday I was immediately welcomed by your opening pic – a photo of a sculpture of a twisted balloon suggesting all manner of bodily holes and bits. It made me laugh straight away. At first you think, What am I looking at? What am I meant to think? And then begins the process… the space for dialogue… What is your intention for these works?

I never intentionally set out to say ‘I’m going to be funny’. I like to think my work can be humorous, but there is also some kind of political bite. Of course my main area is gender identity. If all those elements are reuniting then that’s fine. I always try to have bit of push and pull. You might look at flowers on the fabric, for example, and think you’re looking at flowers, when in fact they are clitoris endings. You know many women were doing water colours in the 19th century, it was seen as a “ladies’ medium”– lots of them were doing genteel landscapes or beautiful flowers, I feel like I’m taking back the flowers and transposing them into something genital oriented. 

A similar sense of delight arises for me when looking at your series Thingy, a series of sculptures created in 2019 exhibited in the show Faire Corps at the Galerie Paris B in Paris. These over-sized phallic statues, made from haptic fabrics, suggest flaccid members, at once tied down and left to dangle helplessly… Do you find you get different reactions from men than from women?

Yes, it’s not too complicated to understand that men they feel offended. In a way, they are uncomfortable being confronted with deflation. Women always find it funny and they can relate to it quite easily whereas men are more uncomfortable. This particular series also has to do with desire. For example, when you go online on all that social media and you are targeted by marketing, All those big companies, everything is well-targeted for what you like. We are constantly aroused by it. It’s short-term satisfaction. There is a term for that, Homo consumericus, an individual who consumes recklessly, driving him to a state of inner vacuity, passivity, loneliness, and anxiety. That’s why I like to have this erection of desire and the deflated element of it, as we are never really completely satisfied.  

I feel like we are at a place where women can laugh when viewing your art, but are men ready to?

Yes, they do laugh as well. Remember when I did the piece Looking at a Lack of Perspective at the Goldsmiths MA degree show in 2017?  I hung up a huge cut-out photograph in the central room of me looking at the tip of a flaccid penis. Everyone wanted a selfie, people were always laughing, there was a lot of discomfort. Most of the time when we see a penis it is big and hard and aroused. The bigger the better. You will never see a floppy penis. When you look at super early porn films, you could see the guys losing their erections. It’s very sweet, when now it’s all about pumping pumping pumping and violence.

Your installation You Tear Us in 2018, was the first time we saw some of the shapes and elements that have become key to your drawings – joyous male and female shapes full of liquidity, milky breasts, wet lips, leaky dicks, pulsating tendrils etc. Was this the beginning of your love of drawing? Has it become a daily practice?

Sometimes I might have an idea, give it to curators and then say ‘By the way I ‘ve never done that before’. For this particular show, the space was like a cave, a womb. I started doing drawings like I was in a cave, it was a very good experience. Now I carry on doing it on my own bedroom walls, using watercolours. It’s nice. I just draw every night before going to bed. To me, pre-historic art is fascinating. I like that there is a mystery to it. No matter how we try to analyse these works, some remain indecipherable. That’s the magic of it. I wanted to try that. I remember my grandmother’s walls… There was a beautiful wallpaper. I’ve always been in love with it. It was orange and there were some grey-blue leaves, It really stayed with me. I think I tried to re-produce that with my own colours. The drawings in my bedroom are quite like the Folk prints…  flowery, clitoral…


You support a variety of charities, who auction off works to raise money for different causes, most recently for the Hepatitis C Trust with @artonapostcard. Would you say this is a great way for art lovers to begin collecting at affordable prices?

I think it’s a great thing to do. For some people, it may also be less scary buying online than going to a gallery. My first priority is usually charities that help women and children, but I recently gave a drawing to the Drawing Room. They were raising funds for their new space. Also, during lockdown I did lots of little drawings, which I sold online. I gave all the proceeds to charities like Shelter, The Felix Project, Doctors Without Borders.

To what degree does politics, in particular gender politics, play a role in your work? I’m thinking in particular about pieces such as Breeder, an acrylic painting of a mother, rigid with emotional exhaustion, holding two babies at arm’s length, one pissing one shitting. Not only does it offer an opposition to the sanitised Virgin Mary iconography as you say in your comment, but it could be seen as a tool to comment on e.g. the reversal of Roe versus Wade, as you posted it at a similar time…

You know I’ve done a drawing of a similar character, a woman I called  Lali. She’s a badass woman, with a lot of attitude… when the reversal happened, I did a drawing of Lali with a coat-hanger hanging from her vagina, and there is a little baby swinging from it. It was recently exhibited at the TJ Boulting gallery for the launch of Hettie Judah’s book How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents). It’s a very dark drawing, one of the darkest I’ve done. It’s symbolic of the abortion. I was reading about abortion and that in the United States 60% of abortions are by women who already have a child. The decision to abort is made based on the experience of the rearing of the first child, meaning there is the knowledge of what it takes to look after a child, the wish to be more financially and psychologically secure. This needs to be said. I think it’s going to get worse and worse and worse. Next it’ll be the control of contraceptives .Think of all those apps we have on our phone, that track dates of periods. Can you imagine if it falls into the wrong hands… The surveillance creeps me out. It’s like a big brother thing. I feel for women, who feel they are monitored at at distance. I don’t bring gender politics into every piece I do, but there is always a hint of that. Sometimes you can’t help yourself. For the recent sculptures Good or Bad, You Choose? (2022), which were exhibited at the Liminal Gallery in Margate at the Try a Little… Tenderness show, I played with the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein’s concept of good and bad breast. Klein referred to the ‘good breast’, which represents the good mother who feeds the infant on demand and gives them attention, and the ‘bad breast’, representing the bad mother who says ‘no’ or who is absent when the infant wants something. Here, the sculpture is as if the viewer was a baby facing the mother’s breast. When a child is born and put on the breast, the child feels he or she is one with the mother, it is satisfied and content. But sometimes the breast is not available on tap because the mother is doing something else, then it becomes the bad breast. That is when the child realises it is detached and separate from the mother, they are two not one. Good or Bad, You choose?

You created the online Project “I Lack it, I Like it” in  where you interview women who work in various fields of the artistic and creative industries, on their notion of lack. To date you have interviewed 97 of artists. What themes have emerged from these interviews?

The slogan “I lack it, I like it” plays around with Freud’s penis envy theory. I see it as a very feminist slogan. He maintained that every little girl wants a penis, something I completely disagree with. It’s a very phallocentric way of looking at the world. It started out by me printing I lack it, I like it stickers that I used to stick here and there or hand out to persons recognising themselves as women. During the lockdown, I felt like I could do more than just make stickers. I came up with the idea of creating five questions around the theme of lack, and have asked the same five questions to near on 100 female artists. The interviews are all collated on Instagram at There are some amazing, amazing, interviews of women. Sometimes I felt very emotional and tearful reading them. Because the platform was Instagram, the artists were encouraged to give concentrated responses, to go deep within and come back with the answers. I’ve been lucky to have some people who have been very supportive of the project from the very beginning. 

What are your hopes for women in art in the upcoming years?

If there’s been a shift for women artists, it’s very, very, very slow one. I think no matter what, we always have to be vigilant about what’s going on. We have to fight – that goes for women in art and women in general. I’m always very careful when there is an exhibition to check what the percentage of women to men is. I’m always disappointed when I see small amount of women. We will always have to keep on fighting, and that’s the way it is.

Thank you Ingrid for taking the time to speak with us.

To see Ingrid’s work, head to the Folk shop on Lambs Conduit Street, where she has created an installation to coincide with the launch of her fabric, or visit