Manuela Cabrales, born in Colombia in 1996, is currently based in London. She holds a Master's degree in Curatorial Management and is soon to complete her studies in Textiles. With a wide range of skills including textile design, curatorial planning, art writing, and exhibition management, Manuela brings a multifaceted approach to her work. She has previous experience working at esteemed institutions such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Lo Schermo dell'Arte.
This collection is inspired by the theory of the whole nature, which was developed by Alexander von Humboldt, a renowned German naturalist and explorer. The theory suggests that everything in the natural world is interconnected and influences each other. Humboldt's experience climbing the Chimborazo, a volcano in Ecuador, and his observations of the different thermal floors strongly influenced this theory. I established a connection between this concept and my research, as the biodiversity fostered by the thermal floors in my homeland, Colombia, distinctly characterizes my country.
To capture the essence of the whole, I embrace the power of dance. Dance embodies movement, and the dynamic motion of people and cultures worldwide has enriched our own culture by embracing diverse traditions. Just as the Spaniards arrived in Colombia, their culture already intermingled with influences from Arab and "Gitanos", who journeyed from India, and African slaves who brought their unique cosmology. These ongoing movements across the globe, along with the adaptation of different peoples to our distinct climate, thermical floors and terrain, have played a pivotal role in shaping our present identity.
Music, deeply intertwined with our history, resonates with rhythms derived from indigenous instruments crafted from trees and wood native to our lands. The beats of African drums and the melodic strings influenced by the Spanish fuse harmoniously within our traditional music. The symphony of music and dance movements represents a perfect fusion of diverse influences and our natural surroundings, forming a mutually beneficial bond. Such harmonious expressions of music, along with vibrant carnivals and cherished traditional celebrations, unite us as Colombians. They serve as powerful reminders that, despite the challenges and divisions we have faced, we all share a common origin and contribute to a harmonious whole.
The dancers move in diverse ways, each embodying their unique rhythms rooted in their regional zones or thermal floors. While their expressions are individual, they share a common purpose and direction. They turn their backs, inviting us to follow their lead and flow with the same beat of the earth, the same beat that unites us all, the beat that carries our history.
Medium:All of the above are made using different printing and weaving techniques
I meticulously crafted each print in this collection, drawing inspiration from Humboldt's theory. I interpreted Humboldt's own drawing of a mountain with distinct thermal floors in my unique artistic style. From this series of drawings, I extracted and incorporated every imagery that became a part of this collection.
Through my artistic practice, I harness the power of storytelling, intertwining historical narratives rooted in the past that continue to shape our present. My purpose is to inspire people to think deeply about historical stories portrayed in textiles and consider their significance in today's world. This creative journey originated from my exploration of my own Colombian heritage, which is abundant in cultural significance and biodiversity. By translating these narratives into printed and woven textiles, I have immersed myself in a profound comprehension of my people, my environment, and my own identity.
Within each of my designs and collections, there resides a tale intricately intertwined with our shared history. I have come to realize the immense value of exploring into our ancestral origins, cherishing the diversity of our cultural heritage, and embracing the wisdom passed down by those who came before us. It is through this pursuit that we acquire a wider perspective, harmoniously coexisting with the interconnected forces that shape our collective existence.
By celebrating the essence of our roots, honoring the craftsmanship inherent in cultural expressions, and embracing the kaleidoscope of humanity's diversity, we begin to grasp the profound interconnectedness that binds us to the greater world. We are simultaneously diverse and unified, each thread contributing to the eternal dance that unites us all. From the grandest actions to the tiniest creatures, every element assumes a vital role within this majestic tapestry, emphasizing the significance of every single thread.