Filipa Pinho

Filipa, how did your approach to fine arts come about and how did you decide to dedicate yourself to a channel and to a medium as traditional as embroidery but with such a contemporary approach?

My first contact with embroidery was when I was really a kid, I was 10/11 years old and my mother put me in a class - what we now call a workshop - with a lady of some age teaching kids embroidery. I hated it! I hated it because the points were so specific, and I had to follow one movement after another, and that confused me a lot. I couldn't. And then I went two Saturdays and gave up. I never went back to picking up needles and fabric, until in college there were some jobs where I started to use textiles and then yes, I moved on to embroidery, crochet. As I developed work, I disconnected a little from the very conceptual part, which was very mandatory in the institution. I wanted to detach myself from these rules. But I continued with embroidery, and developed my own work without great expectations. I just kept going. I took everything that I hated in those classes when I was a kid, and then I tried to have a freer approach, to do a free technique, which allows me to get to the details and which, if I were to follow the traditional points, I couldn't achieve.

Do you think it is possible to make a living from art in Portugal and do you think there is room for young artists to develop, progress and create?

No, no, no. Definitely not. It’s very difficult. A few years ago, when I started to take my work more seriously, I gave up on the national market completely. Nothing against it, very unfortunate that it doesn't happen, I would love it to happen! But as I developed work, without the pressure of having to sell it and having to live off it, I think it made it purer, more honest and over the years I managed to create an audience that follows me. There's a certain dialogue, they understand the sarcasm, they understand the irony, there's a lot of duality – not just in my work, but in the character I present, who is a kind of avatar that we all create as we experience the world. We create our own avatar and, most of the time, we don't realize that we are working and polishing this character. There is always this duality, not only in the character I created, but in my personal life. There is a lot of duality, and in my work too. So, without the pressure of having to live off my job I think it became more honest because there was no question of having to survive off of it. I had a lot of part-time jobs, which was what supported me monetarily. At some point the work started to evolve to the point of selling it, which is fantastic. But yes, it’s extremely difficult in Portugal, it's a pity that I don't have an audience here, but it had to be. Where there is an audience, I am there for them.

How do you see the inclusion of women and gender equality taking place in Portugal and to what extent is this being included in the artistic work taking place in Portugal and in your work in particular?

Being a woman, and living in the society we live in, it's impossible for me to switch off. Although I don't have a very active voice, or make a point of being politically correct, I have a very specific medium where I make my speech, which is my work. Experiencing the world through the society in which I am inserted, it is impossible not to be affected, not to experience the world through what I don't agree with. This is noticeable in my work, in any of my works there is a problem. Not overly explicit: I prefer to leave space for the viewer to create their own conclusions. I prefer to give time to think, give time to come to their own reflections. Nowadays there is a lot of information, everything is very clear, everything is very fast. There is no time to think and take your own readings. That's why I make a point of not writing about my work. There is nothing that exists that says "this work is based on a certain thing". By not defining an object, an embroidery, there is room for it to be so much more. Words determine things, but they are also very restrictive and I want to keep that experience personal. I want the audience and the viewer to have time and space to define what they are absorbing. Whether it's right, or wrong, there isn't.

What do you see as the role of brands, such as Overcube, in the voice that modern Portuguese culture should have when it comes to art, innovation, disruption, inclusion and so many other areas essential to development?

First, a super important role. Upon receiving this proposal, seeing the moodboard, I realised "ok, this is great". Especially a footwear brand. Because we have such a big footwear industry in Portugal, and I think we value it very little. And I was happy that they chose artists who are more in the shadows, and who are not so identified with the cream of the crop. Because there are many good artists, and I can't speak for them, but I identify myself in this nucleus of more underground artists that are doing their work for pure pleasure and that are not looking for recognition or to be validated by other people. They're just doing the work for the work. Nobody has any idea where they are, what they're doing, but the richness and the honesty behind it is priceless. I think it's great that there's a brand, and in Portugal, that collects these people. Again, I can't speak for them, but I try to be a little more guarded.