Claire Barras, the Acupuncturist
Acupuncture is my second career. I practice it with as much attention, dedication, and interest, as I did with my first vocation – as a fine art restorer.
At first glance, being an acupuncturist and being a fine art restorer may not seem related. They are like the experiences and people we’ve encountered throughout our lives – when a dot is made, we may not yet know what it will lead us to, until one day we look back, and all the dots finally connect and they all make sense.
I’m Swiss, born and raised in the beautiful Valais in Switzerland, surrounded by nature. Ever since I can remember, I loved Renaissance art. Later I studied at the School of Applied Arts in Geneva (HEAA, the predecessor of today’s HEAD – Haute école d’art et design).
I first came across acupuncture when I was 20 years old and was struck by a very serious illness. A friend advised me to see a Chinese Qi Gong Master, who was a Visiting Professor at a university in Lyon. The Master, using acupressure, restored my health. At the time he gave me a book about acupuncture and said, “One day, you will be an acupuncturist.”
I didn’t give acupuncture much thought then. My passion and focus were on art restoration. To receive special training, I went to the UK, then worked, through collaboration with The British Antique Dealers’ Association, restoring artworks for clients such as Christie’s Auctions and the British Museum. Later I interned at The National Museum of Ceramics in Sèvres, France, near Paris.
For many years, I was the art restorer I dreamed of becoming, until a car accident left me with temporary colorblindness. Faced with this potentially career-ending challenge, I remembered what the Qi Gong Master had told me years ago. I thought about it seriously, and my path came across acupuncture for the second time – this time to become a certified acupuncturist.
To achieve this, I first studied at L’Institut Chuzhen in Paris, and then graduated from the over 3-year program at IEATC (Institut d’Énergétique et Acupuncture Traditionnelles Chinoises) in Rolle. One year later, I passed the exams for the National Diploma in Acupuncture (France).
In parallel, I learned from the old Qi Gong Master, who had previously restored my health, Chinese philosophy, Daoism, and Qi Gong – “Life Energy Cultivation”, which is a practice of aligning breathing, movement, and awareness. For me, it is important to go beyond the mechanism of acupuncture. Just like in art restoration, it is more than just about applying the right colors and physical materials.
I loved being an art restorer before because what interested me was never about expressing something of me, as an artist would do, but about finding the spirit of the person who created the piece of artwork…finding precisely his feeling and sentiment, all that transpired through his/her art, then transcribed and restored it. In many ways, acupuncture is very similar. It is about first sensing the energy structure and the energy flow of a person, as I would have with a piece of artwork, then restoring the right energy flow by using needles and pressure points.
For 15 years now, I have been an acupuncturist. I practice it with as much attention, dedication, and interest, as I once did with my first vocation – as a fine art restorer.