Irène Hamoir, the Orichalcienne
Irène Hamoir was a Belgian poet and novelist, born in Saint-Gilles on 25 July 1906. She was the leading female figure of the Belgian surrealist movement.
In 1922, after completing studies in business, she became a secretary in a tannery-dyeing shop. As a militant socialist, she took part in numerous meetings from 1924 onwards, became close with Camille Huysmans, wrote her first poem in 1925, and met the painter Marc Eemans at an evening course for journalists, with whom she became associated. Since the latter collaborated on the magazine "Distances", created by the Brussels surrealist group, Irene Hamoir came into contact with Louis Scutenaire, at Marcel Lecomte's house (1928). In 1929, she was hired as secretary at the Economic and Financial Agency in Brussels. Louis Scutenaire wrote poetic letters to her every day. They married in 1930 and, after a trip to Paris and Spain, they moved into Rue de la Luzerne, with Scutenaire's mother. In 1931, she started a career as a civil servant at the International Court of Justice. As such, she travelled between Geneva and The Hague, often joined by her husband, who had been called to the Brussels Bar.
In May 1940, faced with the advance of the German army, the couple left Brussels with Magritte, Agui and Raoul Ubac. They arrived at Carcassonne (Aude), where they met Joë Bousquet, Jean Paulhan, André Gide and Gaston Gallimard.
Through her limited but captivating personal body of work, she has also left her mark on various readers. Following "La Cuve infernale", her first novel (1944), she published "Boulevard Jacqmain" in 1953, in which the members of the Belgian surrealist group appear under nicknames. This second novel plunged readers into the Brussels "milieu", situated by its author around this Boulevard in the city.
After the publication of her "Œuvre poétique" in 1949, under the name "Irine", Irene Hamoir collaborated on numerous journals, including "Temps mêlés", which was founded by André Blavier and Jane Graverol (1953). In 1955, she started writing humorous dispatches for the "Petite Gazette".
But it was her poetry in particular which had the most success. In 1976, she compiled her non-fiction texts, i.e. prose verses and texts, into one volume: "Corne de brume". It was in the same vein as surrealism and with a devastating humour, gleefully influenced by the people close to her, Scutenaire, of course, but also Nougé, Magritte and Delvaux. She also collaborated on the journals "Le Salut Public", "Le Ciel Bleu" and "La Terre n'est pas une Vallée de Larmes". She worked closely with her husband, with whom she wrote texts for exhibitions and catalogues of surrealist works.
Following the deaths of Geert Van Bruaene in 1964 and Marcel Lecomte in 1966, she wrote tributes for them in "Le Soir". She became the first female editor of "Le Soir", occupying a position that would subsequently be open to other women. Irène Hamoir died on 17 May 1994, having spent her final years in Boitsfort.