As a creative team here at East we’re constantly looking for new inspiration, and we search far and wide to find unique artists who find new and intriguing ways to keep ancient crafts alive. We were instantly drawn to the work of Raquel Rodrigo, a Spanish interior designer and artist who creates large-scale industrial street art. We take a look through a selection of her work that lights up the streets of Valencia with cross stitch to find out how she transformed her craft into urban-scale art.
Traditionally passed down through generations of Spanish women, Raquel learned the art of cross stitch from her mother. Usually thought of as an intricate decoration for tablecloths, cushions and other textiles, cross stitch is a dainty and ornate craft ; a past-time in the home, for the home. Raquel, who has a background in interior and set design, decided to create a new narrative for this traditional technique, combining her love for craft with the desire to innovate on a large scale.
In 2014, she took to the streets of Valencia, creating large-scale cross stitch installations on the façades of buildings, in broken windows, on street lights, in doorways: any unused urban space. Highlighting the traditionally home-based activity by taking it to the streets to make it public art.
I constantly look for the union between art and design, tradition and contemporary, artisanal and industrial
I leave my embroideries to become part of their environment
Industrial Scale Delicacy
Swapping the embroidery threads for thick cord made from natural fibers, Raquel and her team cross stitch directly onto wire mesh, creating the semi-transparent structures that adorn the walls of Valencia’s buildings. From there, the mesh is rolled up and constructed on-site, so each art piece is specifically designed to the space’s dimensions. Depending on the size, it can take Raquel and her team weeks to create and install her street art. She often starts a piece by using the space as her inspiration, creating unique cross stitch patterns that work in-situ with their surroundings.
Using the traditional cross stitch patterns as a starting point, her installations can be interpreted as pixelated textures from close up versus cross stitched flowers from a distance. Colour is important, using vibrant and upbeat colour combos to lift the spirits of the unused spaces they decorate. Raquel looks to create eye-catching contrasts to the urban landscapes in which they exist.
Her patterns include hibiscus flowers, roses, cherry blossoms, lemons and oranges. While some of her creations appear more traditional, depicting these flowers or fruits, other designs are more contemporary, such as a 70-metre installation with the simple saying ‘Certain things take time’. Whatever the message, Raquel has proven that street art can be made with any medium.
Street Art with a Back Story
Raquel’s work is a beautiful marriage of an age-old pastime with a modern twist. The creativity in her craft and her innovative spirit inspire us to keep finding beauty in the old. Raquel is not only keeping cross-stitch alive, but is pushing the boundaries of what craft is and where it should be. Through her workshops and the Arquicostura Studio she has set up (a combination of the Spanish words for ‘architecture’ and ‘sewing’) she is able to connect with the public through her craft .
To blend the artisanal with the industrial in her work, she is giving visibility to all the women whose embroidery has for so long been restricted to the home and rarely been given attention.
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Raquel and her studio. Let us know if you’ve seen any of her street-art in Valencia, we’d love to see!