Elīza Māra

“I got to know about the RSN one day just by scrolling through YouTube embroidery videos. I remember watching the video and thinking ‘this would be nice, but there is no way I can get there from Latvia’. I applied as I have been embroidering and crafting since I was little, I picked up embroidery more seriously in high school and started to treat it like a medium for self-expression.

I created my Final Major Project on home, the title is ‘LV-1079’ which is the postcode of my neighbourhood in Riga, Latvia, where I have lived all my life before coming to study in London. I come from Latvia, an ex-Soviet country and somehow, living in the London Metropolis, I have grown to appreciate the Soviet heritage as that was my main inspiration.

I researched a Soviet phenomenon, ‘block housing’, and how it has shaped our current society, especially my generation as we are the first to grow up in a free and independent Latvia. Soviet rule has left some deep wounds in the society and collective experience of the last 80 years; as being a block building dweller myself I needed to clarify and define the living experience in the architecture that was supposed to shape the new ‘communists’ which will take the USSR further. But now it means living in ruins from a future that failed.

With this project, I was chasing growing up, living independently and dreaming of my own home as I was living with my mother-in-law and husband, in a pandemic, in my early twenties when I have already had the taste of independence for 2 years. The love I have grown for block buildings, Soviet architecture and my little neighbourhood is unmeasurable.

While researching, I was working on a few embroidery concepts. I knew I wanted to explore invisible and suspended embroidery, an embroidery the observer has to look for. I played on the term ‘metal embroidery’ while employing traditional Goldwork techniques and mixing them with stitched on hardware. Luneville (Tambour) was traditionally worked on organza but I switched threads and beads out for monofilament and screws, and I used some traditional Crewelwork stitches.

Reflecting on my RSN experience on the RSN Degree, I have enjoyed being taught professional embroidery skills, applying them to create something successful; being in Hampton Court Palace, and being surrounded by the opulence and decoration, made me appreciate the modernist values behind Soviet architecture. To be learning and exploring such a skill steeped such deep tradition, it contrasted so much with my previous design education and crystallised in a contemporary embroidery practice connected to modernist design values.

I have already been working as an Embroidery Tutor for private classes, developing embroidery kits and I have recently been invited to be a guest lecturer for Textile Art students in the Art Academy of Latvia. I know I will be a teacher/educator in my career as well as a practitioner. I have learnt that I need two opposites that fire the drive in me to be at my best; I feel like my mission is to create contemporary art responding to ideas and issues important to me, as well as to make my art and teaching accessible to the consumer.”


You can follow Elīza on her Instagram page.


« back