Interview: Maricor/Maricar map their London experience

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Published:  July 1, 2013
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Interview: Maricor/Maricar map their London experience

This month, Maricor/Maricar will be exhibiting a new series of works titled Maps. This exhibition features a collection of abstract embroideries and patchworks inspired by a stay in London in 2011.

The show opens this Saturday July 6th at Koskela in Sydney and runs until August 18th. We spoke with Maricor and Maricar to find out a little more about their process, and the experiences that inspired the unique collection.

What were your first impressions of London when you arrived, and how did they change over time?

Our first impressions were based on horror stories of the cold depressing London winters our friends had warned us about so we expected a lot of dreary greys. We were pleasantly surprised by how colourful London and Londoners turned out to be, I guess as a reaction to the weather. People tended to dress brightly and in more outrageous colours, everything seemed bolder, vibrant and loud.

What is it about London that inspired this project?

The MAPS project was inspired by that vibrancy which we hadn’t expected. We also wanted to document our experience of London since it was such a pivotal moment in our career and we thought that mapping that time through embroidered graphics would be an interesting way of doing that. We lived in east London right next to London Fields park which meant that we had an almost unblocked 180 degree view towards the city. It sounds quite sappy to say this but we enjoyed watching the sun set and the different colour palettes that the sky would throw up, it really was like living in a Turner painting some days. So we documented these different colour palettes knowing we would like to create something inspired by them later down the track. When we were approached by Kate Ford at Koskela to do a show there we knew this was the opportunity to revisit those photographs.

It’s obvious that these aren’t literal maps that can guide you around the city. You can see geographic structures in there, but they are entirely graphic inventions. Could you talk through the process of developing the images, and translating the city into more abstract forms.

The patchworked pieces were the first works we developed and started off as sketches based on the walk from our apartment to key places near us – Mare St in Hackney where we did mundane things like our weekly grocery shop, meet up with friends for Vietnamese comfort food and go to the cinema; our train station stop London Fields; and then London Fields park which we walked through to get to Broadway Market, a little street that turns into a busy, crowded food market on the weekend. I plotted these points and found shapes between them that we then used to create two of the patchwork patterns. The rest of the patchworked pieces are freer interpretations of maps and are more colour studies based on the photographs we took.

The embroideries started as a mirror for one patchwork piece (which we edited out from the show) and was purely experimental. We used a loosely woven fabric and were interested with how we could embroider with the structure of the fabric rather than on top of it as we usually do. As we developed the piece we instinctively worked with grids to form patterns. Initially these were envisioned as top down views of the city but in the end the patterns suggest building silhouettes suspended in fabric/emerging from fog which is more interesting but purely accidental.

Did you have to learn or develop any new techniques to create this series?

We patchworked half of the artworks which is a new-ish skill we had to learn. We dabbled with patchworking for a project we completed last year for TOMS Shoes but are still newbies and learning as we go using youtube video demonstrations. Which is similar to how we learnt embroidery.

How do you decide on the right materials and process for a new project?

For our embroidery commissions we have previous experience with which materials will work best to achieve a design but with this project we made a conscious effort to try new techniques and use different materials. Some of which were a horror to sew with and Maricor blames me for that whenever it screws up in the sewing machine. Our material choices were mainly driven by the colours we wanted to work with so we found a mix of fabrics that best matched our chosen palette. In the beginning we thought we should hand dye all the fabric ourselves but we quickly realised we couldn’t dye the amount of fabric we’d need or necessarily get the right colours so we abandoned that technical restriction.

What’s one thing that any first-time visitor to London must do?

Tough question, there’s a lot but the one thing we miss the most is the Saturday morning walk through London Fields to Broadway Market. For any Michael Fassbender fans, try the Vietnamese food stall at the market. We spotted him there a few times. They also have very tasty Banh Mi.

Koskela presents Maricor/Maricar MAPS
An exhibition of embroided and patchworked textiles
Opening 6th July and runs until 18th August
Koskela: 85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, NSW 2018

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