We speak to designer maker and hothouse17 participant Eva Fernandez-Martos
Eva is a designer maker with a background in mechanical engineering. Her work challenges the notions of preciousness and value, aiming to instil an appreciation of the ordinary and the man made by stimulating curiosity and challenging perceptions.
Eva has been selected for Hothouse, the Crafts Council's Talent Development Programme for emerging makers. Find out more about Hothouse
What sparked your interest in notions of value, preciousness and ‘ordinariness’?
I believe that my interest in those notions comes from the idea of material possessions. I grew up not long after the end of the dictatorship era in Spain in one of the poorest regions, Andalucia. I experienced the transition from longing for material things that were out of my reach, to being able to afford almost everything I could think of.
After flooding my life with material possessions, I realised to my disillusion that that didn’t make me happy and that it was, in fact, a bitter addiction. That is the reason for my search for the meaning of value and preciousness. I try to find the value in what is already there, rather than in the next possession or something that is unattainable. I believe that my struggle is not a personal one but a general crisis in our current society.
What first got you interested in making?
Since I was a child I was always interested in drawing and making with my hands. When I chose my first degree in engineering I chose the practical side of making, probably drawn by economic stability and social pressure. As I grew older, I started feeling more and more that I wanted to do something more creative, something that I could express myself with, and I decided to re-orientate my career into the creative field.
What in particular drew you to jewellery?
The main reason that drew me towards jewellery is the closeness between jewellery and people. I feel attracted by any form of art in general. However, I feel that other types of art seem to be sometimes disconnected with people. I also see the connection between jewellery and people as a kind of performance or staging of the wearer and the piece of jewellery, which I find a quite unique combination between art and people. That is why I always try to portray my work with a particular person in a certain scenario so that my message is complete.
Where have you shown / sold your work so far?
Just after graduating from an MFA in Jewellery from Edinburgh College of Art, my work was selected for the Marzee International Graduate Show 2016 (The Netherlands). The same work will be showcased by gallery Marzee in Schmuck 2017 (Munich). Besides, I have shown my work in the Great Northern Graduates Show 2016 as part of the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (Manchester), and in Lustre 2016 at Lakeside Arts (Nottingham).
Which project are you most proud of so far and why?
I feel that it is my graduation work from my MFA Jewellery at Edinburgh College of Art. My MFA degree was a constant search and struggle of what I wanted to do or what I wanted my work to be. I believe that in the end, I managed to stick to my principles and do what I wished to do rather than doing a type of work based on the idea of pleasing people. Even though the controversial character of my graduation work and the lack of conventional aesthetic appeal, I was pleasantly surprised by the public reaction to it when I have had it on show. I love the way people felt curious about it and wanted to touch and know more.
What do you hope to get from Hothouse?
I think Hothouse will help me to reflect on my practise and define it better. Additionally, I think it will also help me place my work in the right market and target the right channels. I am very keen to collaborate with other people to create work and Hothouse is a great opportunity to make contacts with other makers and creative professionals.
Your work is quite daring, and could perhaps even be described as dystopian. How important is politics in your work?
The meaning is at the heart of my work. I feel very strong about politics and social matters and I channel my feelings and thoughts through my work. With my work, I try to raise socio-political issues and make people think and question things. Even though my work seems to be dark, there is a comical twist to it, because I think that at the end of the day you have to take things with humour, even the darkest forecasts.
You have a background in mechanical engineering, how does this inform your work?
I think my background in mechanical engineering like any other aspects of my life informs my work. Sometimes it is difficult for me to separate the different influences. Probably the most obvious influence is my technological approach to making. I try to use technology as much as I can to facilitate and enhance the making process. In an unconscious level, I believe that the engineer in me is coming partly through the way that most of my inspiration comes from the man-made world.
You can see more work from Eva and follow her at the Crafts Council Directory