Meet the artist
Her passion, her path, her dreams, her works.
Cristina Rodrigues is a Portuguese artist and architect born in Porto in 1980. The eclecticism which characterises her work can be traced back to her studies in architecture (1998), medieval and renaissance history (2004) and contemporary art (2010). She graduated in architecture and completed a Masters degree in medieval and renaissance history at the University of Porto, Portugal. She later moved to Manchester, United Kingdom, where she lectured at university and was awarded a PhD from Manchester School of Art.
In 2011 Cristina was awarded a research grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to develop her ongoing research project ‘Design for Desertification’. She then focused her research work on the study and register of Portuguese territories with low population density. She also began to create some of her most poignant contemporary art work, and textiles became her trade mark from the outset. The recurring use of satin ribbons, industrial fabrics and lace has been a distinguishing feature in her aesthetic narrative.
Manchester, the old textile capital of Europe, became her chosen home for seven years and during this time Cristina focused on the study of contemporary art. By combining her many interests, namely culture, oral traditions and textiles, she created ‘The Blanket’, one of her most emblematic works. The original version of this contemporary art installation was made with Idanha-a-Nova’s traditional instrument, the adufe, cotton lace and satin ribbons.
In situ, Cristina’s art installations and sculptures become jewels, lushly adorning ordinary objects with baroque detail. She masterfully combines creative flair with everyday items. Each of her art installations is locally inspired yet universal in meaning, and it intentionally touches the lives of all those involved in its artistic production. Cristina’s practice is marked by simple aesthetics, almost always based on ethnographic research. Her art celebrates the role of women in contemporary society.
Cristina’s work has been admired by several hundred thousand visitors across different parts of the world, in various exhibitions, such as:
• ‘Issues of Urbanization’, at GDMOA – Guangdong Museum Of Art, in Guangzhou, China;
• ‘21st Century Rural Museum’, at MUDE – Museu do Design e da Moda, in Lisbon, Portugal;
• ‘My Country Through Your Eyes’, at the MNA – Museu Nacional de Arqueologia of the Jeronimos Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage), in Lisbon, Portugal;
• ‘The House’, at Zweigstelle Berlin, Germany;
• ‘Women From My Country’, at the Manchester Cathedral, United Kingdom;
• ‘Heaven Descends to Earth’, at the Santa Maria de Alcobaça Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage), Portugal;
• ‘Guardian Angels’, at Tatton Park Mansion, in Cheshire, United Kingdom;
• ‘Underlying Beauty’ at S. Clemente Palace, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;
• ‘La Pasión’ a monumental exhibition in Seville, distributed by 5 of the most iconic monuments in the city – Fundación Valentín de Madariaga y Oya; Portuguese Pavilion; Universidad de Sevilla; Casa de la Provincia and Real Alcázar de Sevilla;
• ‘The Shroud’ a large scale art installation conceived for CAB – Colombo Art Biennale 2016, exhibited at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
She has been working closely with the Porto lace mill – Fábrica de Rendas Portuense, – since 2011. This mill still produces cotton lace using original industrial revolution machinery, acquired from a mill in Leicester, United Kingdom.
Cristina Rodrigues interprets reality by carefully analyzing mentalities and iconographies in contemporary society. The dialectics between tradition and contemporaneity is central to her work.
Recently, Cristina Rodrigues was on the cover of SCULPTURE (January/February 2016 edition), the American journal and one of the most prominent publications worldwide.
Items which are characteristic of the female universe are used in her majestic works of art. Cotton lace, satin ribbons, glass and crystal necklaces are combined with iron and musical instruments in order to build narratives where there appears to be no creative limits. Ready-made necklaces bought in the pound shop are combined with luxurious china, in an eclectic blend creating a clear analogy with contemporary society.
In 2014 Cristina’s exhibition ‘Women From My Country’, hosted at Manchester Cathedral, one of the most emblematic buildings in that English city, was awarded a grant by the Arts Council of England. This exhibition welcomed over 200 thousand visitors from July to September 2014, and it included three of Cristina’s most symbolic art works, ‘The Blanket’, ‘The Queen’ and two large sculptures titled ‘Enlightenment’.
The patterns and stereotomies produced by the recurring satin ribbons are one of Cristina’s trademarks. However, with reference to narratives and artefacts that are familiar to her daily life, Cristina essentially uses popular materials, which relate to a woman’s condition and draws on crafting techniques usually associated to domestic crafts.
Emigration, a theme which is particularly relevant to her generation, is addressed in some of her work, namely the sculpture ‘Grapes of Wrath’, inspired by John Steinbeck’s work. Herself a migrant, Cristina is sensitive to this issue. For several years she collected furniture that had belonged to migrants from the various communities in Manchester, United Kingdom. The contemporary art installation titled ‘Bourgeois’ (2014) comprises four chairs previously owned by an Iranian family living in Stockport, United Kingdom. These were conventional chairs used in the family’s dining room for over twenty years and underwent an intervention by the artist, transforming them into luxury objects.
In 2015 Cristina Rodrigues extended her regular stays in Portugal in order to work with the Municipality of Amarante and the Municipal Museum Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso. During this year, Cristina produced two textile works in collaboration with weavers from Fridão parish, in Amarante. The original version, ‘The Blanket Amarantina’ is now part of the collection on display at the Municipal Museum Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.
This installation was on show in 2015 at the Santa Maria de Alcobaça Monastery exhibition as part of the large exhibition ‘Heaven Descends to Earth’. The second version of the ‘The Blanket Amarantina’, created in a loom and produced by weavers in Fridão parish, is made of linen and cotton, and it was on show in 2015 at Tatton Park Mansion, United Kingdom. Today it is part of the art collection of Cheshire East Council.
Also during 2015, Cristina Rodrigues produced the contemporary art installation titled ‘Underlying Beauty’ comprising 25 Amarantine guitars, hand drawn by Cristina in the four months she was a resident artist at the Municipal Museum Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso. This installation was exhibited in 2015 at the S. Clemente Palace, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and it is now part of the art collection of the Municipal Museum Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.
During this period as resident artist Cristina also produced a large scale sculpture she named ‘The Fountain of Happiness’, which was on show in the gardens at Tatton Park Mansion and in the Cloister of the Municipal Museum Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.
The artist recently opened a monumental exhibition in Seville, distributed by 5 of the most iconic monuments in the city – Fundación Valentín de Madariaga y Oya; Portuguese Pavilion; Universidad de Sevilla; Casa de la Provincia and Real Alcázar de Sevilla.