I am Esperanza Gómez-Carrera. I was born in Malaga in the south of Spain, now known as the city of Museums and where Pablo Picasso was born. An interesting anecdote is that my great-grand aunt was his godmother at his christening. I’ve been living in London for many years; however, I frequently go back to Spain and feel very Spanish.
Photo above: The reinvention of self – Esperanza Gómez-Carrera
Translation from Spanish: Carmen Cuadra Gómez
I am a visual artist. I work with sculptures, installations and performances. For the most part, I enjoy exploring and re-interpreting everyday objects in humorous ways making them appear surreal. In the end it is the objects themselves, with a little help from me, who end up sharing a message of irony or humour… All objects have so much to offer, you only need to know how to look at them. When I get involved, they set the guidelines, I simply help them come to life. I believe each object has a story within, I search for the different meanings, but nonetheless something stays inside them. Amongst these kind of pieces I really enjoy working with books, I call them ‘Intervened books’.
My father’s side of the family were big fans of bookbinding and because of that I was born surrounded by books. My uncle, Francisco Gómez Raggio, is author of ‘The Book Binding Book’ (El libro de la encuadernacíon), much like a Bible for Spanish Bookbinders. Because I grew up in a house filled with books, I learnt to treat and see them in so many different ways. It is through my art and always with a sense of respect that I give them a new chance at life and help them share a different message.
I start every day at the same time, with excitement for the projects ahead, that is why from the very first day I set myself a time for work and a time for rest. I have a routine, but I don’t do the same every day. They are dynamic routines, I go for one or two hour walks every day, but some days it’ll be in the morning and others in the afternoon. I have virtual dinners with my family in Spain and sometimes I have breakfast with friends in Mexico, that’s why I don’t consider it an ‘isolation’.
My artistic activity during the pandemic
Right now, I have some artworks exhibited in a gallery in Mayfair, London, which will be my longest exhibition ever. The opening should have happened on the 19th March, but I had to cancel it without knowing when I would be able to open it to the public. I now call it ‘The Exhibition That Never Happened’ and funnily enough people are more interested than ever in seeing it.
I’ve also seen myself affected by not being able to work in my studio in Lambeth North. I brought some things home, but it is hard to work in spaces that aren’t set up for my kind of art. On the other hand, it forces your creative mind to work with what it has got. As a lot of my art involves intervening with objects, I have found things to re-interpret around the house. I’ve turned an old table clock into a sculpture called “A locked-up stare” and some cups to place hard boiled eggs have become surrealist objects with blonde pigtails and bows, a call out to my never ending search of Alice in Wonderland.
Personal and collective strengths and weaknesses
Artists do not lose hope easily, which is why they fear difficult situations less. We must learn to recognise them as part of our life experiences. Art helps us identify what is truly important and personally I consider myself mentally strong.
I’ve seen fear, anger, sadness, but I have also come across a lot of solidarity, desire, a hunger for knowledge and humour. I’ve felt people very tense in these times many of my friends for example, and almost none of them are artists. Artists channel their strength and imagination in ways only known to them. You only need to stop and look at all the songs, with different artists uniting, videos, exhibitions and contests involving all types of art.
Artists often complain about not having the right materials or physical spaces. Suddenly we’re realising we have less of one thing and even less of another, but the need to continuously create and see through other eyes is still there. I have a friend who has been creating some incredible paper murals with a simple black crayon and some basic colouring pencils. Another friend, who has a 30sqm apartment only has enough space for magazines and is using them to create some ingenious collages.
Helpful tips for other artists
- LOOK! Around you, within the four walls of your house and your neighbourhood, what you previously overlooked. From there new creativity will rise. You’ll see something different because you’ve never looked through the eyes you have today.
- PLAY! Games and art always go hand in hand and they’re both a way of transporting yourself to imaginary worlds, which is where an artist resides.
- CREATE! With whatever materials you have on hand. Study their shapes, their textures, look into their colours. If you paint, you could do it on those cardboard boxes people are leaving outside for recycling. If you don’t have space you can draw, write, make collages…
Everything can be different when you explore with new eyes
The world that is waiting for us…
This pandemic has stolen our sense of invulnerability and security. There is going to be, as we have already seen, significant economic, political and social changes. Our way of living is going to be slower, quieter. On the other hand, we are yet to see what we have truly learnt and what we will learn. It is not that I am happy with these circumstances, it is simply that I am curious of what is yet to come.
Esperanza Gómez-Carrera @esperanza_gomez_carrera