About three years ago I started making papier mâché “things”. First I made a small garden dweller, then a larger fortune teller that I titled “Looking for certainty in an uncertain world”. Next came a range of fantasy type plants made predominantly from newspaper and discarded nepresso pods because I love the colours they come in. Until three years ago I had never done anything artistic and my work is very “primitive”.
I still don’t really understand why I ended up doing papier mâché but I love the process of taking what others see as rubbish and making something that I see as beautiful. It’s been a solitary pursuit so far (but I would love contact from anyone else that does this) despite trying to find mixed media classes so that I can improve my skills. I really need to learn how to paint!
In Mexico I relished the opportunity to feast my eyes on papier mâché, or cartoneria as it is called here. Cartoneria is a traditional Mexican handcraft and the sculptures are used for religious festivals or decorative items. The shops are full of papier mâché skeletons and dolls and while these were fascinating, it was the Alebrijes that I hungered to see.
Albrijies are brightly coloured Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures. Pedro Linares first used the term and created the creatures in the 1930’s and his grandsons continue the work today. There is an annual parade of these enormous sculptures which I would love to see.
I did drag Steven down back streets where I believed the Linares family still had their workshops but our expedition was futile. Luckily the Museo de Arte Popular had a great display.
After viewing these fantastic creatures I am inspired to continue this strange pursuit. At home I am in the process of creating a palm tree and after seeing the Alebrijes I feel liberated to let my imagination fly. I am thinking that maybe the palm tree will be a fusion of Dubai, Cuba and Mexican influences……