There is so much that the nature can do.
It began with her persistence in creating distinctive art forms with sustainable solutions that set the base for Extraction – a project Hong Kong-based artist Anna Cennamo launched in order to experiment with natural dyes that originate from the great outdoors in botanical forms, such as plants, vegetable skins, teas and flowers. “From this unique experience, I developed a range of slow-crafts and stationery products that bring people back to nature,” explains the Italian creator.
As unpredictable as her naturally dyed designs, Anna’s creative process is never bounded by any specific school of aesthetics or predetermined results. “I let my imagination loose as I design,” explains Anna of her organic approach to art. “The sense of self almost disappears, and I tend to forget about the final outcome. Though I have a plan of what I want to make, I keep myself open and I let things happen, rather than force them into a certain shape. As I approach a project, I select a range of media to play with that are simultaneously organic, essential and have a flexible structure.” Papers, fabrics and dyes are among her favourite materials to transform into delicate pieces of art. These elements all embody characteristics that set the groundwork for endless possibilities of experimentation, and the outcome is always different and surprising. Anna smiles and says, “That’s how I got into natural dye and handmade papers.”
For me, it’s fundamental to go back to ancient techniques to discover, learn and honour them throughout the process
Curiosity plays an equally vital role in the heart of the artist, who is profoundly moved and inspired by the innocence and openness of children. “I am intrigued by the source of everything,” she says. “I love tracing back to how things are made and where they are from. For instance, how is this piece of paper made? Where do the colours come from? How is this fabric dyed? For me, it’s fundamental to go back to ancient techniques to discover, learn and honour them throughout the process.”
In fact, the Extraction project serves as Anna’s primary outlet to express herself, which she failed to attain in the past. “I created soulless works that were quickly forgotten and had nothing to do with me for years,” she reflects. “By the time the Extraction project came to life, I was going through a tough time. So I had to slow down and step back from the crazily demanding world, and just sit back for something meaningful – something that could speak to me.”
While mass production still prevails, it’s Anna’s goal to deliver a message via her creations. “I want to change the way most people look at things. Handmade objects are beautifully imperfect and no one is like another as they change over time – just like us. So why would you blindly pursue something that diminishes our own distinctiveness?” It’s certainly a question worth pondering.
Images courtesy of Anna Cennamo