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Portuguese artist, Ana Martins — who also goes by the alias Aheneah — explores the combination of digital and analogue processes to create her unique works, including cross-stitch street art. With a background in graphic design and influences from her grandmother’s embroidery teachings, the 23-year-old aims to “deconstruct, decontextualize and transform a traditional technique into a modern graphic, connecting cultures and generations.”
Aheneah’s signature cross-stitching embroidery technique using wool is evident across all of her artworks. From simple cross-stitching, in the shapes of X’s, to contour line stitching, the Portuguese artist’s most recent pieces include the element of screws, which function as the structure and anchor points for the wool to weave around. The size and mass of the Portuguese artist’s projects have also scaled up significantly since her earlier experimentations, which were made on poster-sized black cardboard.
Today, her public projects can be seen on the streets of Portugal such as ‘switch-over’, ‘no glass to hold me back’, and ‘semear’ that are as large as 2 x 5 meters (6.5 by 16.5 feet) and uses up to 700 meters (nearly 2,300 feet) of wool and 2300 screws.
Aheneah’s meticulous production stages take into consideration not only the precise placements of the nails in a grid format and the colour choices of the wools that bring life to her artworks but also an interaction with the general public. “By taking the technique out of its commonplace, I want to make it more appealing to a generation so used to digital,” she explains.
In the Portuguese artist‘s latest project ‘perception’, a series of limited edition pieces on wooden planks, Aheneah takes on a new challenge to evolve her usual style. “[I] used to explore materials and methods to scale up traditional techniques, now it’s time to challenge myself and merge everything that I’ve already experimented and bring it back to a tiny and delicate scale.”
Through this new challenge, Aheneah learns that “every time you look at something, it can seem different from the last time. we don’t see things as they are, but rather as we are. That’s why these are never-ending pieces.”
The Portuguese artist has been showcased in multiple urban art festivals and exhibitions in recent years including WOOL, VU lisbon, and ESTAU, and continues to travel across Portugal to host workshops.
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