Today's Meet the Maker interview is the talented Veronica Mulas. Her uniquely stitched designs are proving a hit in our Paper Scissors Stone Shop. Here is a little more about her:
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
My name is Veronica Mulas and I am originally from Italy. I came to the UK thinking of staying for a year, but this is now my 13th year here! It is actually the pursuit of my ambitions that has kept me going.
After studying a foundation course in Art and Design at Stockport College, I went to Manchester Metropolitan University where I gained a first class degree in Fine Art Painting. I then studied for an MA at Wimbledon College of Art (University of the Arts London). Despite my academic association with painting, my work uses mainly thread and a pointillist technique, which also reflects my inclination towards drawing. Some of my pieces may be overlooked because their features are disguised behind what could appear to be a splash of paint on a surface, when, in fact, the 'paint drops' have been stitched by hand.
Recently, I have also been using this technique to create a more accessible - in terms of images - series of works, therefore you will also find hearts, butterflies and other nature inspired subjects on my shelves, and greeting cards and printed fabric too!
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
Creating makes me who I am and who I want to be, therefore, when I am not creating it is difficult to switch off the creative processes, ideas and searches that are constantly going on in my brain. When I am not creating or thinking about my work (which is never really), I am doing or pursuing other creative and stimulating things such as learning Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs, translating texts to and from Italian, writing poems, baking... even the chores become creative exercises for me. In fact, I see cleaning and tidying up as three-dimensional, life-size, micro-art projects!
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
As far into the past as my memory allows me to see, me and my twin sister, Ilaria, were always drawing, using paper to give a dimension to our fantasy world, making up characters, places, games and stories, giving life to old toys and everyday objects. We would also organise a census for all of them! Later on we had to entertain our younger sisters so we always kept busy at creating things.
I studied to become a Textile Designer and worked in the field until my contract ended. When I came to the UK I resumed my path towards the Arts.
Creativity is a kind of language, which I have learned and developed over the years. It helps me a great deal to express myself and be myself.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I find stitching a very meditative, repetitive and therapeutic way of working. It gives me control and at the same time, freedom. I find it so fascinating that this 'crafty' activity has now taken its place in the contemporary art scene. Also, it feels so comforting, rewarding and somewhat human to be able to make things by hand in an era where digitalisation, virtual reality and technology have pushed aside our own practical abilities, inventiveness and imagination.
Where does your inspiration come from?
The inspiration behind my abstract stitchings comes from observing the medium of paint itself; pictorial accidents, which were unconsciously made by a distractedly handled paint brush or all those insignificant, however, interesting marks, such as the see-through effect in between the weaves of a canvas and unintended splashes of colour. I am fascinated by what deceives the eye; what in reality is not what it appears to be, therefore, not only the traditional trompe l'oeil technique, but also its three-dimensional derivatives (fake food is the easiest example).
Nature also plays a big part in my art. In fact, I am inspired by its textures and forms such as the beautiful intricate patterns found in the growth and clusters of fungi. When I go for walks at Leigh Woods or Ashton Court I like to look at the tree logs and take them home with me, if that's possible. I use them to create dress-making pin installations or, rather, three-dimensional pointillist drawings as I regard them. It helps me to put my work in a different context and see it under a different point of view. Daily frivolities, baked delicacies, fashion and interior design are also a constant feed to my imagination.
Describe your studio or workspace?
My studio space is a lovely corner, although not particularly bright, in the second bedroom of my flat. Its set up changes every so often since I like to have different works, sources of inspirations, memories and sentimental objects rotating and alternating as I find it very stimulating and refreshing. Amongst other things, there's a beautiful mask from Venice up on the wall now. Also there's a print of a realistically painted portrait of a Spanish girl – the painter José Luis Corella's daughter - dressed up as a Geisha (National Portrait Gallery BP Competition 2010) and a print of a black and white picture from the penultimate Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition. The photographs and calendars of my adorable little nephews always put a smile (and tears) on my face. I cannot work without their sweet 'company'.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Unconsciously, I have always been fascinated by female artists who use craft as the basis of their work. Ghada Amer, Pae White and Susan Collis are amongst them and I have recently discovered the wonderful, ethereal and magical installations and cabinet works of Kate McGuire! Her sculptural creations are made by using birds feathers, which I find so amazingly captivating. I would love to peek inside her studio to understand her creative processes.
How would you describe your creative process?
If an idea comes to my head and I clearly see it as a finished image, the process for me has already started and it's actually half way through, despite the work not existing yet. Having said that, in certain cases (especially with the abstract stitchings) I build the work as I go along, since, working this way, it enables me to bring out and preserve the spontaneous and accidental nature of the work.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Throughout all these years I have collected letters and drawings sent by my sisters on birthdays, Christmases and other festivities, which I have spent away from them. The youngest one, Valentina, was only 9 years old when I left Italy and the middle one, Elisa, was 14. I treasure a beautifully made drawing by Valentina of a horse galloping by the sea at dawn, it reminds me of the hope and determination I felt when I set out on my journey. I also cherish a cassette with my sisters' voices and loving words recorded by themselves all those years ago.
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
Sometimes I get too involved in my work, which means that I don't allow myself to get away from it. I stubbornly persist with no results or ideas, but then realise that it's time to do something else or nothing at all (but that's kind of impossible!). I try to shift my interest onto something else. I do like making my own bread and baking so I may go to do that or watch a cooking program... something distracting and easy- going. If it's one of those days when nothing will do, I just go for a bike ride!
Which is your favourite local independent shop or eatery in Bristol & why?
I really enjoy walking down Gloucester Road, it is crammed with local independent shops and cafés. Tinto Lounge is a lovely place to relax and unwind, it has a great atmosphere and offers healthy and tasty food: my favourite is their crab and prawn sandwich accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice! Further down is Fig, a gallery/shop run by a collective of six artists and makers working in different disciplines, from ceramic to jewellery and print-making to textiles (it sounds like a mini version of Paper Scissors Stone!!). I am always on the lookout for some inspiration and I am always curious to see their newest additions and layout.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
My aim is to take my work up a notch, or two ;-)! After achieving that and becoming more confident and clear in what I am doing it would be a dream come true to be represented by one ore more galleries (obviously the more the merrier!). I have so many projects and ideas I want to work on, I just want to stay focused, get my art out there to the right audience and earn a living from it. I just want to do well and make all my art qualifications useful and worth all the effort. I would love to have children and teach them that they can become whoever they want to be and that it is still possible to work independently, out of your own creativity and passion!
Thank you Veronica. Your work is such a delight. You can see Veronica's detailed stitching in our Paper Scissors Stone shop.
Paper Scissors Stone
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Sun: 11am - 5pm