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Christmas Markets: She Visits

Ellen Harvey 12 December 2016

The Christmas markets are on again this weekend at Old Bus Depot and will continue to run on both Saturday and Sunday, every weekend until Christmas. It gives you ample time to get your Christmas shopping done, and while you may have already sorted out your Christmas gift shopping list, it’s hard to really account for the things you’ll find at markets.

That’s why we are showcasing some of the stallholders at the Christmas markets, so you know exactly what is being offered.


Today, meet Mariana, the creator, owner and maker of She Visits. Mariana graduated from the ANU School of Art in the late 1980s. She has showcased her craft line throughout the years in Handsomepretty, The Hive, Craft ACT, FORM art studio, Perth, Tamworth Regional Gallery Shop and Art wares Gorman House. She has had several exhibitions around the country and has been the recipient of a variety of awards. Mariana now spends her time working full-time, creating for She Visits.


Below is an interview with Mariana about where she began and what inspires her that also showcases some of her fantastic designs and wares that will be on sale at the Old Bus Depot Christmas markets.


Tell us about the history behind She Visits.

In 2014, my mother passed away and in many respects I started to revaluate my priorities and the direction my life was taking. After 40 years I returned to the country of my birth Ecuador and travelled to Columbia and Peru visiting Machu Picchu. This reconnection with my past reawakened an ancient inspiration that naturally seeped into my art practice.

In 2015, I left full time employment and created She Visits. The phrase ‘she visits’ is an invitation for my mother to still be present in my life. The craft line is influenced by the magical realism of South America and the vibrant colours I encountered on a 2013 trip to India. I set out to create a craft line with my artist husband Alex Asch, which will explore and investigate traditional forms and processes in hand crafted folk art.


Walk us through the process of creating one of your skull features.

I created the paper-macheskulls to mark the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated in early November. Many people associate the imagery for the Day of the Dead with Mexico but it is an important time throughout South America and Ecuador marked by festivals and parades. This was a magical and exciting time in my childhood surrounded by monolithic paper-machefigures that were dramatically set alight to celebrate the New Year. Much of this imagery has been co-opted by popular culture in the west and features predominately in urban street art. She Visits draws on the past and present for inspiration.


What inspires you to create your art?

All my life I have been creative. The women in my family have always worked with their hands including my mother, who was a patternmaker and seamstress creating original garments for her clients. After graduating from the ANU School of Art in 1989, I worked as a professional practicing artist exhibiting my sculptural installations locally and nationally.

Creating She Visits allows me to separate my art practice and my craft and design. My art practice focuses on deep personal stories and long traditions in fine art and art history. My craft allows me to be more playful exploring color through folk art, textiles and fashion, drawing inspiration from my cactus garden and my long love affair with artists, poets and designers Frida Kahlo, Pablo Neruda and Vivienne Westwood. I can relax to my favorite music and let my fingers wander from painting to crocheting to sewing.


You are dedicated to using recycled and found materials. How does this influence what you create?

I have always used found and recycled material in my art and craft practice. Besides loving the aesthetics of the pre-loved and worn, there are the obvious benefits to our environment. I am constantly gleaning everyday objects and curios. I remember as a child seeing cabinets of curiosities in my grandparents’ bodega; a theatre of the world, collected exotic objects cloistered into categories that sometimes made no sense.

For years, I have collected fabrics remnants discarded bags of wool, costume jewellery and countless objects. I have been discovering boxes of goodies in my studio basement and reinventing them into my craft line, jewellery made from parts of musical instruments, wool/cotton turned into crocheted cacti, hand made block printed fabric from India, vintage blue tinted bottles, plastic reindeer heads, painted corrugated metal, off cuts of Australian hardwoods, garters and ribbons — the possibilities are endless.

I am really looking forward to connecting with the community through my stall at the Old Bus Depot Christmas markets.

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