Image: Alexandra Kehayoglou, Santa Cruz River (detail), 2017. Textile tapestry (handtuft system), wool. 980 cm x 420 cm
In our latest Issue 99 Home, Marcella Echavarria profiles textile artist Alexandra Kehayoglou. Here we share an extract of her article. Born in Argentina to a family of immigrants from Greece who came from Europe in 1926, Kehayoglou’s work mixes a tradition of carpet making inherited from Asia Minor with her vision of a land where her parents decided to settle and her own artistic input. Now 39, she studied art at university but was never comfortable with painting or photography. ‘I felt like something was missing, that I was in between worlds. At that time, I was working in the family carpet business, El Espartano. It was there where I discovered that carpets provided the missing link for what I wanted to do which was to find space. Nature and carpets both are mediums for texture, they mirror each other literally’.
Image: A vanishing landscape by Alexandra Kehayoglou
After that discovery, Kehayoglou set up her own studio and distanced herself from industrial practice — instead using handmade processes like a hand tifting gun and discarded wool. Her method is organic, like herself and her subject matter. She travels, observes, takes notes, draws, photographs, and above all feels. Since 2006, Kehayoglou has been researching grasslands. In the case of Argentina, the native grasslands have been erased by irresponsible capitalist projects. ‘I am obsessed with trying to understand what existed before in the grasslands in terms of plant and animal species. I want my carpets to evoke, to be a tangible memory of the territory.’
Image: Alexandra Kehayoglou, Pastizales (detail). Textile tapestry (handtuft system), wool. 820 cm x 460 cm
Kehayogluo’s work Santa Cruz River, displayed at the Triennial of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne in 2017, is an interactive installation part of an extensive research project about the future of the damming of the Santa Cruz River in the Argentinian Patagonia. This project showcased her critical vision of a disappearing landscape and premonition of a future ecocide in one of the most significant glacial rivers in South America. Her work has become renowned as an outcry against deforestation and devastation, a warning against the extinction of native grasslands in the face of a complacent society which does not seem sufficiently worried about climate change and irresponsible use of our shared resources.
You can read the full version of this article in Issue 99 Home.
Marcella Echavarria is a lifestyle specialist and will be running our Crafting Your Brand intensive workshop alongside Polly Leonard from Monday 15 - Friday 19 March. To find out more, visit the course page.