Psarokokalo: Now you know how to say “fish Bone” in Greek!
I am so thrilled that I have managed to persuade yet another multi-talented and exceptionally smart woman to join us today and share some insights into her creative process. Maria Polyxa works under the name Psarokokalo, you can visit her remarkable Etsy shop here. I met Maria through Flickr and was immediately drawn to her unbelievably original dolls and beautiful jewelry. It took a while before I realized that pretty much everything Maria makes is constructed from recycled bits and pieces, I loved her work even more from that moment.
One of the things I most admire about Maria is her consciousness; her interest in sustainability and the eco-friendly approach she takes to her work. Through Psarokokalo, Maria hunts out our discarded and unwanted materials and transforms them into exquisite objects that are wearable, useful and immense fun to have around. I am lucky enough to share my home with some of Maria’s work and it always brings a grin to my face when I am using or looking at it.
Tell us a little about yourself, the media you work with and your creative process.
“I am what I do and live in the city of Athens in sunny Greece. I have studied interior design and public art. I began working as a props and special costume designer for theatre shows and for the 2004 Olympic opening ceremony…then i got pregnant. Having a bad pregnancy and spending endless days in bed made me start drawing creatures and every image that came into my head. Since my daughter arrived I have focused mostly on creating dolls, jewelry,some clothing, accessories. So I am a home- working Mom.”
“The media I work with are mostly fabrics, plastic and wood. I try to upcycle all of my materials from old sheets, scraps from fashion designers, old clothes, plastics that I gather from the sea among other things such as wood and stones.”
“I also use wood from a wood technician friend. Everything can be made into something else is my belief and the materials that other people see as trash inspire me to work with them.”
From where do you draw your inspiration: music, books, people, nature etc?
“Where do I draw my inspiration? Mostly from my childhood which I am coming closer to since I had my daughter, Thalia. Animals of course. Eric Satie is my favorite music to listen to, this music delivers so many images into my head. Native art is a big inspiration for me, mostly African traditional carving, jewellery and body painting. The internet and my Flickr friends are a great inspiration for me too. As I said above one of my biggest sources of inspiration are the materials I find.”
If you could talk briefly about the background to one of your pieces which would you choose and why? Tell us the story behind the piece.
“Well, to choose one of my pieces is very, very hard. I really love these naked guys and the fact that they, in a way, undressed themselves. I began making these dolls which were inspired by traditional Ethiopian paintings like the one pictured below.”
“This painting, to tell the story, was always in our living-room when I lived with my mother and I was always scared of those eyes as a child. It is funny how a child’s fear can become a doll . I wanted to make a human doll and the first thing that came to mind was this painting. The first doll I made was Gabre, and he was dressed.”
“One day a friend came over to my home while I was in the process of making the next doll. My friend saw that I had added the doll’s genitals too.”
“So, my friend went crazy about the doll, he liked it so much that he bought four naked guys. From that day those guys are naked for the sake of the saying: “the customer is always right”. Some times I still try to add a blouse or trousers. It is nice when your work develops into something else without you supervising it.”
That was really wonderful, thank you so much Maria for answering my questions. It is amazing how many people find that difficult personal circumstances can lead to a release of creativity. I am in awe of Maria and the intelligent concern for our environment she weaves into her work. Madame Psarokokalo also has a fantastic, feisty sense of humour, when I am Athen’s way I will certainly be beating a path to her door. Have you seen the view from Maria’s house, gasp!
There interviews are the highlight of my week at Lou Lou & Oscar, I do hope that you are enjoying them too? Let me know what you think in the comments section if you would like to. I very much appreciate all your comments and words of encouragement. Who will it be next week? A secret, a secret only for me! At least until next Friday anyway. See you soon curious kittens.