01 May Curatorial Conversation with textile artists Maricor/Maricar
THERE IS A BEAUTIFUL CHEMISTRY that is created when an age-old craft is taken and transformed into the now. The transformation is even more explosive when that art/craft is shaped by not just one artist but two – two creators who have been connected all their lives. Maricor and Maricar Manolo, aka MARICOR/MARICAR, are twin sisters from Sydney who create exceptional embroidery works. Part art, part design, part typography, part craft, they bring these mediums together with detail, precision and colour.
Last year the sisters made the move out of a home-based studio to an incredible warehouse in the inner-Sydney suburb of Alexandria. Their studio space is an inspiring one – the creative energy is palpable. Artists, designers, potters, stylists, builders and makers of all descriptions occupy the warehouse called The Space Sydney. It was here that Maricor/Maricar created their works for Curatorial+Co. – a typography piece, and two works from their new mixed-media ‘Secret Garden’ series that combine embroidery with acrylic paint. We visited them in their exceptional studio space and talked cacti, music and the moment that changed their career path forever, while photographer Anne Graham captured the artists.
Where do you live? What is your favourite thing to do in your city?
Maricar: Sydney, Australia. I love spending lazy days at the beach with friends and family.
Who or what inspires you?
Maricar: Colour and texture
Where do you go to find inspiration?
Maricar: Usually inspiration springs from unexpected sources. If I feel stuck, going out for fresh air in the garden and generally time away from the desk. Meeting a friend for coffee or listening to music often gives me fresh eyes to see things differently.
Describe your studio in three words.
Maricar: In the middle. At the moment I work wherever I can find some clear space and most importantly free time between a one-year-old and three-year-old. My studio is a compact portable sewing bag.
Maricor: A fresh start. Last year we moved out of Maricar’s home studio into The Space Sydney which is a vast warehouse in Alexandria filled with an eclectic collection of creative types. It’s hugely inspiring to be around different makers, everyone is hands on. There are painters, ceramicists, weavers, a florist, custom motorcycle mechanic, welders and fashion designers all under the one roof.
What do you love about being an artist?
Maricar: The privilege of being able to create something new.
Maricor: Working with my hands and having the freedom to experiment and play with concepts and techniques.
What are its challenges?
Maricar: The flip side: feeling like you have to constantly start from scratch.
Maricor: Sometimes there are too many ideas you want to chase!
What do you hope people feel/think/see when they see you work?
Maricar: We hope we bring a bit of lightness and colour for people to enjoy.
Describe your morning routine.
Maricor: I get up and get to the studio around 9. Working for yourself, motivation and focus is important so I try to keep regular hours. Before I sit down to work if there is time I’ll do a bit of gardening – I’ve brought in some of my plants to the studio to fill it with greenery and make it cosy.
What do you love doing in your downtime?
Maricar: Pestering my cacti plants trying to get them to grow faster! Or if I have enough time, sitting down with a tea/coffee and something I’ve baked, on the couch, in front of a good movie or reading a book.
Maricor: See above! Besides gardening I enjoy a good film or book.
How would you describe your work?
Maricar: Colourful and intricate.
Did you always want to be an artist?
Maricar: In high school my favourite subject was visual arts but I was also interested in science because of the experiments. In hindsight it was the hands-on aspect that I enjoyed. My initial plan was to try to be pragmatic, and study science at university, and work in pharmacy so that I could pursue art while still having a ‘stable’ job. A short stint in the university labs for work experience made me realise that wasn’t the life for me! I was always meant to do something art related.
The performers had an interlude and asked the audience to close their eyes, think of all the things making us unhappy and then yell ‘fuck you’ out loud. It made us realise there were things we wanted to change and that this was the time to do it.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
Maricar: Music has always been a source for joy, inspiration and motivation for us. There was one concert which gave us the sign that the time was right for us to leave our full time studio jobs and pursue Maricor/Maricar as a full-time thing. The performers had an interlude and asked the audience to close their eyes, think of all the things making us unhappy and then yell ‘fuck you’ out loud. It made us realise there were things we wanted to change and that this was the time to do it.
You’ve been creating embroidery art for about six years now. What other jobs have you done?
Maricar: When we were growing up our dad had a cleaning business that we used to help with on school holidays cleaning ten pin bowling alleys, and we also worked in the cinemas for a while.
Maricor: Before working as a freelance illustrator and artist, Maricar and I worked at a few different design and production studios. We have a background in design so we worked on print projects, websites and music videos.
Music often influences your work. Do you have a favourite song?
Maricor: It’s hard to pick just one song and it changes day to day, but a playlist of favourite songs right now would include ‘Good Woman’ by Cat Power, ‘About Today’ by The National, ‘Casimir Pulaski Day’ by Sufjan Stevens, ‘The Obvious Child’ by Paul Simon.
Favourite place on Earth and why?
Maricar: So hard to choose! Is it cheating to say wherever my two girls and partner are? If I had to choose an actual place I’d say Riomaggiore, Italy. We went travelling there with friends and it was totally surprising and unexpected.
Maricor: The best place to travel is Japan – great food, amazing visual culture and exciting energy.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Maricor: Without sounding like a huge downer my advice would be, don’t say no to yourself. There will be lots of times other people will tell you no. ‘No you can’t do it’, ‘No it’s not possible’ etc. Don’t add your voice to theirs, don’t doubt yourself.
Advice you’d like to pass along to new artists?
Maricor: Take part in group exhibitions and shows as much as you can, and use these as opportunities to develop your work and challenge yourself.
Future dream project?
Maricar: Designing our own range of textile products.
Maricor: I would love to collaborate on ceramics, rugs, clothing, textiles.
We hope we bring a bit of lightness and colour for people to enjoy.
MARICOR/MARICAR’S WORK CAN BE FOUND ON CURATORIAL+CO. HERE
All photography by Anne Graham.