My work stems from the belief that each one of us plays a role in the wellbeing of our society and on the beauty of nature, as a whole. This approach values work as an activity that isn't made at the expense or exploitation of other people, beings or nature; that the work can embody these values in all its dimensions; and that cultural manifestations, such as art, architecture and design, play a key role in re-establishing a healthy relationship between humans and nature. The cultivation of that bond and kinship, through compassion, gratitude and awe, as much as possible, is at the core of my interdisciplinary approach.
Mitigating climate change needs systemic solutions and policies, and is within our slim horizon of possibility, according to the IPCC. This can only be achieved by a collective effort, not by an individual one. I believe cultural practices can accelerate the necessary social changes, not only in the urgent framework of the task at hand, but also to root this shift on the long run.
In the material aspects of my practice, I bring these concerns through the materials I choose and the providers I work with. Whenever possible, I look to work with natural materials that have the smallest possible impact on the environment. Examples of this are ethically sourced, handmade recycled cotton paper and natural pigments. Both the research into the subjects I work with and into the materials and suppliers take immense effort and time, but it's essential for the quality of my work, both in material and ethical dimensions.
Cotton is a crop with a high water demand. The cotton industry depends heavily on pesticides, with workers and the environment exposed to them during the production process. This can lead to the workers' poisoning, birth defects in their children, and death. Pesticides from farming have a very negative impact on the ecosystem -ending up by polluting our oceans, our drinking water, contaminating soils and leading to land degradation. Making one cotton t-shirt takes about 2500 litres of water - enough drinking water for one human to drink for 3 years, making the fashion industry sector the second in water use and one of the most producing carbon emissions. The discard of cotton fabric from fashion has a tremendous impact on the environment, with the majority of textiles going into landfills every year. Because of this, one of my key mediums has been recycled cotton paper. I work with suppliers whose production is handmade, and reuses the water used in the cotton process into organic farming.
On the other hand, industrial pigments used in art supplies are often hazardous to the environment during their productive stages as well as in the final product; they are commonly labeled as fish poisonous. As of 2020 I turned to using mostly non-toxic, handmade, ethically sourced natural pigments, either from mineral or botanical sources. The exception is the Ultramarine Blue, which is a 90% natural, 10% synthetic combination, manufactured in Europe. I did a few of the botanical pigments myself, with either locally sourced ingredients or from biological, ethically produced crops.
I sometimes use bamboo paper, which is considered a more environmentally friendly choice than wood pulp. This is due to bamboo being a fast-growing plant, with some species growing one meter per day, for which it is rapidly renewable. I choose cruelty-free synthetic brushes, instead of ones made with animal fur, and I take all possible measures to limit the use of materials. For this reason, I'll still use art supplies previously acquired and materials that I have received as a gift, such as linen. Like everything else, this is an ongoing practice of learning and fine tuning.
As part of my effort for ocean protection and awareness, I am a signatory to RISE UP. Powered by Oceano Azul Foundation and other institutions, this is a joint call to action from a broad group of civil society, fisher folk, Indigenous peoples, and philanthropic organisations directed to governments and businesses, urging them to take the actions required to set the oceans on a course to recovery. Living in coastal cities through most of my life and enjoying the benefits of nature taught me that respect and care are essential, in all dimensions. In 2022 a percentage of sales from my work was donated to Ocean Alive, to support their work with coastal communities for ocean protection in Portugal.