Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Frédérique Mahieu

Frédérique  Mahieu was born in Belgian in 1955, and studied graphic design in Brussels before moving to Spain with her first husband in 1981 where they ran a mixed farm with their children and learned about gardening and was introduced to walling. She has been living in Menorca for the past 30 years.

Her second husband's father was a waller. By the mid 1990s he was already retired but still had a lot  of clients, so she and her husband began to help him, and finally opened their own stone business during a period of local construction boom, when there was plenty of work. They were able to work together successfully with most of the local wallers until the the company and their marriage dissolved in 2006. Frédérique has continued walling on her own since then .

In 2009 Frédérique was asked by the local government to organize a 6 month walling course for unemployed people.  She told me that this was a great experience for her as the program included both the theory and practice of Menorcan walling and allowed her to focus her thinking on all aspects of the subject

Frédérique works several months every year in the quarries of Líthica, repairing old walls, building new ones, and carving steps in the rock to create new accesses to remote places in the gardens there.

When she noticed that private clients were disappearing because of the difficult economic time Spain was going through, Frédérique presented a unique project to the European Program Leader, with the design of a double square walls space which showcase the different types of walls found in Menorca. Along with Cristobal Torres Canet, Frédérique and some well selected 'helpers' created 'The Dry Stone Space' an amazing and delightful formal enclosure showing  all dry stone styles and features associated with Menorcan walling.

Frédérique also participates in a volunteers group which meets one Sunday morning every month to repair dry stone buildings situated in public places. 

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