By Carlo Brescia
Proof-read: Pippa Donati
Sculptures (by Marcia) pictures taken during the V International Sculture Symposium in Brusque – Brasil, 2005
Article published in the magazine:
DEVELOPMENT, CULTURE AND TOURISM FROM THE PERIPHERIA
July 2005 Issue
The stone sculptures left by the Chavin civilization more than 2500 years ago are an important historical legacy where the Andean vision of the cosmos is clearly represented. In the mouldings, columns and tenoned heads, anthropomorphic creatures with jaguar fangs, condor feet and snake hair still seem to silently guard the archaeological ruins of the Chavin de Huantar Ceremonial Temple.
Today, Chavin in Los Conchucos would be a forgotten town if there were no mining and tourist activities in the region. Thousands of tourists, both Peruvian nationals and foreigners, come here all year round to visit the Temple along the recently constructed road, whilst trucks come and go from the mining site close by.
A group of locals from Chavin still continue sculpting stones representing the iconography around and inside the Temple, declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1985. Nevertheless, these artisans only copy what already exists without taking advantage of the immense source of inspiration that the Chavin iconography envisions, fusing elements from the mineral, vegetal and animal kingdom.
That is why it is important to mention a recent experience where training workshops on stone sculpture were carried out with artisans from Chavin. Not only was the artistic craft activity strengthened, but it was also renewed through the local artisans’ exchange of experiences amongst themselves, as well as together with the director of the workshops. The stone sculpture artist Marcia de Bernardo came from Brazil thanks to the Asociacion Ancash, an institution with social aims directed by a Peruvian anthropologist: Alejandro Camino Diez-Canseco.
Marcia, who has stone sculptures in Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Peru, participated in this example of development intervention, related to the symbolic dimension of culture contributing directly to the strengthening of local identity and income generating capacities of the inhabitants, in a spirit of solidarity and mutual respect.
Marcia, How would you define your art? Where do you get your inspiration from?
My art is spontaneous, that is, I see the stones and immediately I want to transform them, to create new forms in relation to the feeling of the moment. It is inspired by nature, in its perfect and balanced forms. I always look for harmony between the lines and shapes of the stones.
Do you have different feelings with different types of stones?
The sculpture is always related to the material. When you touch the stone you feel the temperature, when you knock on it you hear its sound, when you find a crevasse, a crystal that inspires something in you, everything creates an energy that works together. Even the hardness of the stone defines the right equipment and the tools that allow me, or not, to express the idea in the material. It is the artist who always has to be aware of the essence of the stone and its smallest details.
What is creativity for you?
Creativity is when you create something new or experiment with the same thing differently, from another perspective. It is to perceive the forms that have been always present in nature, interpret them and recreate them in your own style.
How did you come to Ancash?
I met Alejandro Camino back in Nepal in 2002. I was in the Himalayas because I went there to meet my husband who was climbing the Lhotse, at 8502 masl, with other Brazilian friends. In 2003 I was invited by the Asociacion Ancash to carry out training workshops on stone sculpture with the artisans of Chavin de Huantar. I became interested in knowing more about the Chavin civilization and in exchanging knowledge with the local artisans.
What were your impressions of the Chavin stone art?
Chavin art is incredible and I was amazed by its symbols, beliefs and gods. What impressed me more was the graphic force of the stone carvings where you can see the expression of power, of feelings and of stories. In Chavin, the stone is the language that integrates humankind with the cosmos and the nature.
How were the workshops in Chavin carried out?
I was in Chavin a little longer than a month with the workshops lasting 25 days. The idea was to awaken the creativity and imagination of the artisans in order to make them continue to search for new forms to represent their ideas and feelings through stone sculpturing. To help them to realise that they have the freedom to recreate the iconography of the Chavin culture, not only make copies of it. I was able to tell them about the concept of art, showing them images of sculptures from all over the world, ancient and modern, and images of the stone sculpturing tools and safety equipment.
What material from the zone where they using?
In the workshop we worked stones already known by the artisans. The most used stone is the ‘Pasca’, found in red and grey but only in small fragments, which is not very hard. There is also the ‘Arenisca’, harder than the ‘Pasca’ but good for bigger works. In Los Conchucos and in the Callejon de Huaylas there are a lot of interesting stones to work with.
What did Marcia de Bernardo receive from this experience?
I perceived that there is a huge and rich potential future for the artisans, and that the rich and varied Chavin motifs can serve very well as a source of inspiration to a whole new generation of sculptors who will be able to make an important contribution in the future in their country and abroad.
As well, from my encounter with this ancient civilization I was very inspired by the direct carving of the stone. When I returned to Brazil I recreated in my own style many symbols of Chavin in my stone sculptures: the snakes, the cactuses, the pututu, the condor, the jaguar and the water.
How did you find our people in relation to yours?
Where I live we don’t have snow and the climate is less sharp and humid. I believe that the big difference is that living in the Cordillera you can perceive very clearly the forces of nature every day as you can feel the mountains, the river and the sky very closely. A similarity that I can mention is that the people that work with art need a lot of incentives and more information about the opportunities and alternatives to develop creativity in their work. Also, as I live in a bigger city, the days that I spent in the Cordillera gave me an excellent opportunity to recover values of simplicity and strengthen my contact with nature.
Marcia de Bernardo’s blog: http://marciadebernardo.blogspot.com/