Joke Verhelst was born in 1972 in Belgium. From her childhood she was introduced to the mysteries and beauties of stone by observing her father. Her father, by his trade, designed and manufactured stone fireplaces and furniture. Today, he still practises sculpture as an amateur, in this region of Western Flanders where it is said that one is literally "born with a stone in the stomach".
This was followed by a period when Joke Verhelst's sensitivity and generosity were put at the service of patients as a nurse in the hospital wards. Then to the operating theatre and finally to the distribution and implementation of orthopaedic surgical equipment.
In 2009, she experiences a big change and moves to Strasbourg, France. A few years later, she starts mosaic classes. And very quickly, under the guidance of Nadia Cilia, she gets a taste for this decorative art.
It is in 2015 that she arrives to sculpture, a little by chance,
a mosaic workshop at the Maison de la Mosaïque Contemporaine being cancelled. The sculptor of a statue that she owns offered courses and a place remained available... It was for her a real trigger. A return to childhood, a truth.
Once back in Strasbourg she bought some tools, settled in a part of the cellar, overlooking the garden, and started to make her machines hum.
From 2016 she decides to devote all her energy and creativity to her artistic practice. She then continues her training to progress in the mastery of techniques used in mosaic as well as in sculpture. However, she keeps one foot in the operating room: once a week, she participates in orthopedic surgeries.
JoVe's name was then chosen to sign her mosaics and marble sculptures. Her first exhibitions allow her to meet her public. The solitude of working in the studio is thus fully justified thanks to the new contacts, encounters and exchanges they allow. Visitors particularly appreciate in her works the combination of technical mastery and inspiration carried by her sensitivity. The work becomes a source of emotion, reflection and sometimes even spirituality.
"The greatest experience that we can have is the one of mysterie: the source of all true art and all true science. »
Albert Einstein: The world as I see it
The practice of sculpture and mosaic is for me a real journey into my inner, intimate world. A letting go to allow the expression of my own emotions. It is a dialogue between my heart and the stone, buried for millennia in the heart of the earth. It is to reveal what wants to be born from this union. Between this heavy and massive block which imposes its rules and constraints, and me the artist.
Sometimes it is the block in front of me that inspires me and guides my hand, as if it were communicating its destination to me. Other times, I look for the block corresponding to the image that imposes itself in my imagination.
In addition to life experiences, my creations are based on all the beauties of nature, in particular the marine, aerial and celestial world. My sculptures are figurative when they depict the living. Abstract when they evoke elements, feelings or energies. I wish to take the spectator into the world as I see it to convey the grasp that these encounters have given me. This explains the strong lines, the pure forms, stripped of all details to get to the essential.
My art is a search for purity and simplicity, to express serenity and the truth of things: it is the very opposite of life, which is sometimes imposed on us today. I express these permanent contrasts between Man and his environment through subtle and harmonious marriages between smooth parts, rough surfaces, curves and edges. Contrast creates energy, vibration and movement.
My goal is to make the material live and vibrate so that it transmits an energy and an emotion between the spectator and the work. A new story can then be created, independent of mine, which will resonate this energy with the spectator's own story.