Philomène Marie is truly an artist when it comes to ‘fique’, a traditional plant fibre found on Reunion Island. She perpetuates an ancestral expertise handed down by her grandparents, taking inspiration in the hills and cirques of Reunion, where the greenery of nature reigns alongside a spirit of togetherness. As a guardian of Reunion’s cultural heritage, Philomène is an artist who weaves not only fique, but also the threads of the past, to create a future steeped in tradition and passion.

A passion for Reunion traditions and craftsmanship

Philomène describes herself as a fique weaver and the keeper of a craft passed on by her grandparents. Initially hesitant about this material, she rediscovered the importance of traditions after returning to Reunion Island 30 years ago. As a fique weaver, Philomène masters every stage of the production process, from harvesting the leaves to creating slippers, bags, jewellery and unique items such as a picnic-basket prototype produced in collaboration with the ceramist Claire Falconnet. She adheres scrupulously to traditional techniques, beginning her meticulous work by picking green fique leaves when the waxing moon is just right, a crucial stage of her creation process. She attaches great importance to the ‘shredding’ and the three-strand or five-strand weaving techniques that are an essential part of working with fique. The artist sees fique weaving not as a mere craft, but as a way of keeping Reunion traditions alive. Working with this plant fibre makes her feel connected with her roots and family history.

The generosity of nature in the cirques and hills of Reunion Island

Philomène comes from the hills of Reunion, near the abundance and lush greenery of the cirques. She is moved by childhood memories of the spirit of solidarity and resourcefulness that reigned among dwellers of the cirques and mountains. To her, the cirques of Reunion Island embody an authenticity that is close to her heart. Here, fique weaving was a way for women to meet their families’ needs by selling their creations to the better-off people living lower down.

A life of patience and passion

Working with fique takes patience and passion, both of which are a way of life in the hills and cirques of Reunion. Every stage requires precision and a perfect command of the technique, because mistakes cannot be undone. Patience and selflessness are therefore essential to progress in this ancestral craft. Philomène’s enthusiasm is reflected in the quality of her creations. She takes delight in the results of her effort and in the beauty of the leaves that she transforms into true works of art. Today, Philomène aims to share this passion with the future generations, so that they may in turn help to preserve this cultural treasure.


If I were...

A Reunion speciality

Banana blossom curry

A local product

Vanilla, to flavour my dishes and pastries

A favourite spot for a meal

The Grand Anse picnic area