Interview - Alessandra Rigillo - Thursday 9th September
1. What inspired you to get into this field?
My mother and I used to go to old house sales and search through all the junk, finding objects with history and depth, seeing how they were and could be beautiful. The transformation from ugly to beautiful, and from one function, a particular utility, to another (whose utility could simply be to be beautiful) really grabs me.
Alessandra and I talked about how for her some objects have an obvious transformation-journey that she sees must take place. It is obvious that a piece of beautiful green piping has to be a particular neck piece, at a particular angle. For other pieces of scrap metal, old leather, abandoned t-shirts and many packed grandmothers’ jewellery boxes, exploration into what can be made must take place to discover each objects history and the new history to create.
2. What is your favourite material to use?
“Poor materials.” Stuff which is abandoned, old, preferably with rust. Brass and Copper; greens and browns in the form of rusted pipes are my favourites. Also paper, scrap metal and old used leather. Recently I’m using paper mache combined with metal - getting a contrast is important. Bottle tops are beautiful.
We also talked about what makes an object, or a material precious. I asked her if she thought her process of putting an old water pipe part alongside pearls, silver et al, meant that she was in some way questioning our ideas about what precious and/or highly valued materials are. This question lead back to a discussion about an objects history, and we talked about how there is a lot of implicit hidden value, of a richer kind, embedded within found and rescued objects.
3. Who is your favourite designer?
4. How can the public participate in this industry without getting overwhelmed?
Through buying better quality, longer lasting non-Primark clothes and products, through buying into the positive ethical fashion industry, the public can participate. This doesn’t mean they have to completely convert suddenly to being completely ethical - it’s gradual.
Everybody is creative. Today at the workshops everybody managed to create something really beautiful - whatever their skills were before coming. Everybody has ideas. By taking part in activities, like learning to crochet, like joining a knitting group, people learn what’s involved in production. This leads to holding in higher value their objects which were made by other people, to value the process.
5. What do you think of this event?
It’s not clear who the event is for. But, saying this, we actually got lots of different people involved in the workshops today; young and old women and surprisingly, some men.
Alessandra Rigillo was interviewed by Jess Moore.