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Take Five: Cruz María Vallespir

Cruz María Vallespir, Community Workshop
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Published date
26 June 2018

With Degree Show season now at a close, we look back at our students’ final projects and the inspirations behind them.

MA Narrative Environments student Cruz María Vallespir’s final project Mi Casa raises awareness of Latin American culture in London, focusing on individual stories of arrival and survival. Through a series of community workshops, Vallespir collected a range of narratives exploring Latin American migrants’ ideas of home and the ways in which personal and cultural identities can be defined through domestic spaces. Participants were invited to draw and share memories both of their countries of origin and their new homes in the UK. Later, these stories were developed into embroideries and, illuminated by internal lighting, formed the basis Vallespir’s “story-house” structure – which could be seen, and inhabited, at Degree Show Two: Design.

Inside the “story-house”, visitors discover a migrant’s story told through recorded audio and intricate thread drawings of treasured places, people and objects. In July, Vallespir’s “story-house”, migration map and a series of embroidery workshops, will form a temporary installation at The Workshop, in Lambeth – an area home to a large portion of London’s Latin American community. Making visible the voices of a vibrant but often unseen community, Vallespir’s project is multi-faceted and wide-ranging. Here, she talks us through the five stages which brought people together to produce the “story-house”.

Cruz María Vallespir, Community Workshop

1. Stories in thread

The Latin American community in London, mostly based in south London, gather to tell their stories of migration, with a specific focus on their relationship with their several casas (houses). To begin with, they plot their journeys on a world map with thread. Later, they briefly relay their stories to one another.

Cruz María Vallespir, chalk drawings from Community Workshop

2. Stories in chalk

They draw their childhood home in Latin America with chalk. With every stroke, a new memory comes back. They do the same about their first house in the UK.

Cruz María Vallespir, Community Workshop

3. Stories in colour

On top of their threads which detail their homes across the maps, they colour different areas with those they associate with particular emotions. Here, they delve into their memories, reflecting on their journey through the rediscovery of intimate, domestic spaces.

Cruz María Vallespir, Community Workshop

4. Stories in embroidery

One person’s memory drawings are selected to be converted into a textile piece. We choose Sonia’s story – she is from Cali, Colombia and came to London 12 years ago. The piece is embroidered by part of the community, with 50 people contributing hours of their time. During this process, they have the chance to exchange their own stories of migration in a safe space. This gives the community a space to talk freely.

Cruz María Vallespir, Central Saint Martins Degree Show Two: Design, Installation View, 2018

5. Stories in installation

The tapestries embroidered by many pairs of hands become an immersive installation. The visitor can hear the story of a Latin American migrant through threaded drawings of people, objects and places. They can learn about the under-represented Latin American community who live in South London. This installation and accompanying embroidery workshops will be part of Southwark Untold week in the Tate Exchange, on 30 June 30 1 July. It will also be part of Art Night London Outreach and Participation Programme on 7 July at The Workshop in Lambeth.