Paloma de la Cruz, with the piece 'Luz de Noche Para la Abuela'. Marilú Báez
Paloma de la Cruz sews her grandmother Anita's tablecloth in clay

Paloma de la Cruz sews her grandmother Anita's tablecloth in clay

The Malaga-born expert in weaving ceramics recreates ancient embroideries in an exhibition at the Casa Sostoa that reflects on the care between grandparents and grandchildren

Regina Sotorrío


Monday, 10 June 2024, 09:35

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When she was a child, her grandmother Anita used to put a little orange light in her room so she wouldn't be afraid of the dark. When she grew up, she would turn on a blue light in her grandmother's room so that she could rest easy. The circle of care. Paloma de la Cruz models these memories in her new project, a set of works woven in clay that reflect her home life. Casa Sostoa, on the Carretera de Cádiz, and also the residence of Pedro Alarcón and Cristian Mellado, opens 'Y Como Nunca Tuve Amores', a tribute to the matriarch of the family and, by extension, to those women who brought up their families with their own hands. The title, comes from a verse from the tango 'Tabernero' with which Anita used to toast at celebrations.

The memory of her grandmother, always working on an embroidery or darning something, permeates the whole exhibition. She was the eldest of four sisters, born in Monda in 1922, and from an early age she was used to looking after herself. She lived until the age of 98, the last eight years in the De La Cruz family home, where Paloma was able to repay the attention her grandmother had given her in her childhood.

Paloma de la Cruz, with the piece Luz de Noche para la Nieta.
Paloma de la Cruz, with the piece Luz de Noche para la Nieta. Mariú Báez

Scattered between the dining room and the studio of Casa Sostoa is the cloth that used to cover her table, the nightdress she made for her granddaughter and the handkerchief she always carried with her. They are recreated by Paloma de la Cruz, with woven ceramic, a technique of hers that makes what is actually clay look like cloth. Craftsmanship elevated to contemporary art. But here, in this very personal exhibition, the artist from Malaga steps out of her comfort zone: she incorporates light and goes further in her enthusiasm to literally sew the clay.

Almost 300 pieces, all handmade, all different, are joined together with raffia stitches to compose one of the two central works in the exhibition, the one representing her grandmother, inspired by the embroidery of the cloth she sewed to cover her bedside table (Luz de Noche Para la Abuela). They are arranged in a semicircle around a blue lamp that enhances the installation from the inside. In the morning, with the brightness of the day, it has a fainter and more delicate appearance. In the evening, it changes completely and gains intensity. The same happens with the composition that represents her, the granddaughter, with the plant motifs of the nightdress her grandmother made for her and the orange light in the background (Luz de Noche Para la Nieta). It presides over the studio, hanging from an iron on the wall and touching the floor, like the skirt of a white dress. Each one is in a different room, as a representation of the care room of each one at different stages of life.

"The light has been the real challenge", she says in front of the work. Because she has already mastered the technique, she controls the shapes and times to perfection in the small kiln, barely 30 centimetres in diameter and 40 centimetres high, which she has in her studio at her home in Madrid. But the light radically changes the work, it brings shadows, highlights some parts and hides others, which is why she has spent hours choosing the type, the tone, the position... And the final result is striking.

The project is completed with a performance and a song by Bronquio based on a recording by her grandmother

A crumpled handkerchief with beautiful embroidery can be seen on the shelf in the studio, just like any other element in the house. And, of course, it's not fabric either. It is probably the most recognisable piece in the style of Paloma de la Cruz, who has taken her cloths and garments to exhibition spaces such as the Pompidou in Malaga and Picasso's birthplace.

Other elements designed as resources for Delia Boyano's performance, which will bring the exhibition to a close in September, are distributed around the house: ceramic thimbles and a kneepad as a pincushion. "My grandmother stuck a needle in her leg when she was a child. They never took it out, you could touch it and you could feel it", she says when explaining the meaning of this piece. Paloma de la Cruz will be guided by Delia Boyano in this action, where each one will wear a ceramic kneepad and put on the thimbles to dance, move around the house and making them rattle as they rub against each other.

Paloma with the piece she calls Luz de Noche para la Nieta
Paloma with the piece she calls Luz de Noche para la Nieta Marilú Báez

aying in the background will be a song created by Bronquio, a musician and producer from Jerez who, together with the singer Rocío Márquez, signed one of the most transgressive albums of recent years. On this occasion, Bronquio uses the voice of grandmother Anita in an old recording sung by Carlos Gardel. "She was a great party girl and at all the events she would always raise her glass and sing: 'As I no longer have love, and the ones I had are dead, I find pleasure in the wine that the inn keeper gives me'", intoning the tango that the verse comes from.

With this exhibition, the Malaga-born artist returns to the gallery that gave her one of her first opportunities in 2017, almost straight out of university. "From then until now there has been a great evolution, but Paloma's marvellousness was already there from the beginning", assures Pedro Alarcón.

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