One afternoon I went to my mother’s workshop where she used to work as upholsterer and on one of the shelves, filled with soft materials, there was a pile of felt. I gently slid my hand through the sheets and enjoyed for a while the warmth and softness.
About ten years ago my mother got ill, we were all shocked and unprepared to deal with something so big. I quickly quit my life in order to help my family and in particular my mother. She died in just a year during which there was no real improvement but only the uncertainty of the cures combined with our determination to take each step in order to find a way through. During this time I was unable to do any art work, my head was always focused on daily chores and keeping myself together. But I had a feeling of hope and I was desperate to see my mother recover, even when the doctors said there was not much time left.
Square after square
I took some sheets of felt with me not sure yet what to do with them but I had a vague idea to sew all the squares together to make a blanket or some sort of cover. I cut 100 squares 20 x 20 cm each and sewed them together with blue yarn. Felt is a non woven material and the one used in upholstery is made with recycled fabric. It is soft but also very loose, this is the reason why stitching the squares of felt together with thick yarn is a procedure which requires care in order to avoid the fabric breaking apart. I spent hours trying to keep the squares together, worrying about the unreliability of the material I was using. A slow operation, able to keep me awake and away from my fears but close to a place where I could recover if needed. Or where I could find company and comfort, the same place shared by anyone an atavistic place of tranquillity.
Embroidering walking elephants and sheep
With the same blue yarn used to sew the felt squares together I embroidered the border of the blanket with a procession of elephants and lambs. These animals are found in myth, religion and culture since ancient civilisations carrying slightly different meanings but some of these connotations had a heavier impact than others. I chose the elephant because as many writers, poets and travellers have suggested, it symbolises strength, greatness and dignity, either divine or human, characteristics rarely found among other species in the animal kingdom. As I was brought up in a Catholic environment, the lamb refers to the Christian symbol of innocence gentleness, peacefulness and patience under suffering. Walking elephants and lambs in a circle in an endless slow, safe motion producing peace, calm, endurance and ultimately protection; this is the place I stitched together with the same slow and attentive care in order to avoid any break, separation or alteration.
Much like the daily praying of some religious orders, which in the enclosed space of a monastery, would walk slowly following the arcades and find concentration in the concentric architecture of the cloister, I chose to practice a daily routine involving this simple, constant cyclic action, in order to keep my attention focused and calm. One morning I woke up very upset because of a bad dream. Walking through the bedroom I accidentally stepped on the blanket and tore apart some of the stitched felt squares. I was loosing my concentration. The loss was immense. Soon anger took over and ruled me for many years.
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Black wool embroidery on digital print. Dimension W420 x H594 mm. Read more
Traces is a community of curators and makers with a reputation for staging some of London’s most imaginative art and design installations in old and sometimes derelict buildings around the city. With a process rooted in archival research, which aims to breathe new life into a building that endures after… Read more
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Black Bic biro drawing on paper based on found vintage photographs. Dimension H50xW35cm. Read more
The body is a contentious fragile and ultimately elusive truth. Paolo Fiorentini and Leila McMillan have been working in collaboration since 2012. They’re investigating how visual art and dance can share the same space. Their collaboration can be seen through photography,video and performance. Body works “Body works” is an ongoing… Read more
It was a great pleasure to take the art direction and costume design Of Family Portrait a new work directed by Leila McMillan and created in collaboration with 7 dancers, a musician/composer and a team of designers. Developed using Flying Low and Passing Through techniques, this work takes you through a… Read more
The Willow pattern is a distinctive and elaborate chinoiserie pattern used on ceramic kitchen/housewares. It became popular at the end of the 18th century in England when, in its standard form, it was developed by English ceramic artists combining and adapting motifs inspired by fashionable hand-painted blue-and-white wares imported from… Read more
The chainsaw is made with linen fabric and embroidered with tapestry wool. The design of the object is based on a 1960’s american chainsaw. Little Red riding hood is the theme of the embroidery. ‘She sleeps sweet and sound’ is from the Angela Carter short story ‘The company of wolves’.… Read more
Tapestry wool embroidery on canvas. Read more
Before the arrival of the sovereign, the Imperial State Crown is carried to the Palace of Westminster in its own State Coach. From the Victoria Tower, the Crown is passed by the Queen’s Bargemaster to the Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s office. It is then carried, along with the Great… Read more
Karl Heinrich Marx (German pronunciation: [ˈkaɐ̯l ˈhaɪnʀɪç ˈmaɐ̯ks]; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. Marx’s work in economics laid the basis for the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital, and has influenced much of subsequent… Read more
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва; born 6 March 1937) is a retired Soviet cosmonaut and engineer, and the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. Before her recruitment… Read more
The project investigates the correlation between memory and loss and the need to rebuild a conversation otherwise lost. The working suit (based on the miner uniform worn in Belgium in the 1950’s) is made with felt and later embroidered with cotton basting thread. The boots are made with beeswax and horse… Read more
The four subjects are not so well known historic personalities. Faces and bodies are not drawn so only hairstyles and outfits are part of the image. The project investigates the flotation of history and the unreliability of the memory. Édouard Adolphe Casimir Joseph Mortier (1768 – 1835) He served in… Read more
The Tattoo Bear is built with linen and embroidered with tapestry wool. All the tattoos come from traditional european and american designs. Read more
The inks, mixed with watercolors, tea and coffee, needed to be placed precisely and quickly on the paper, in no more than a couple minutes so only a few movements were allowed and no retouches or adjustments were possible. Read more
This work could perhaps be described as self portrait but the practice I put myself through for at least three months was, more precisely, a sort of ‘mood table’: multiple mood portraits. It was a daily exercise in which the movement of the arm traces or arranges the inks on… Read more
The initial idea was to create small objects without putting to much effort in to designing them. I wanted to be in a position where there was little chance to stop and think about shaping, decorating or making something following a precise aesthetic. I chose to sit at my work… Read more
One afternoon I went to my mother’s workshop where she used to work as upholsterer and on one of the shelves, filled with soft materials, there was a pile of felt. I gently slid my hand through the sheets and enjoyed for a while the warmth and softness. The cause… Read more
The gun is knitted with colorful and childish patterns, so it feels innocent, like a child’s toy, and safe because knitting is a familiar and homy/cosy technique mostly related to women. On the other hand, the gun is realised in its original scale, so it is a real object in shape… Read more
A Prelate and a Carabiniere are swinging half naked on a seesaw on a small hill topped with skulls. A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, which means “carry before”, “be set above or over” or “prefer”; hence, a prelate is… Read more
Ten Priests and eleven soldiers balancing on a human pyramid. The theme of this black and ink drawing plays with the idea of the physical balance of the human pyramid as a reflection of the political hierarchy. Read more