My StoryMy name is Vanessa Barragão. I'm Portuguese and native from the south. I was born at the seaside, in a place called Albufeira. Growing up close to my family, near the ocean and the countryside, my thoughts, vision, and... Read More
My name is Vanessa Barragão. I'm Portuguese and native from the south. I was born at the seaside, in a place called Albufeira. Growing up close to my family, near the ocean and the countryside, my thoughts, vision, and passions were heavily inspired by both environments. Since my childhood, I used to make things with my hands, from sandcastles to doll clothes. Starting elementary school, I fell in love and became quite obsessed with drawing and that was basically when, at 6 years old, I realized my passion for handmade crafts and the importance these had for me. Crochet and drawing were the first forms of expression and ways of relaxing that I developed unconsciously. When I turned 18 years old, I left home and moved to Lisbon, where I completed my undergraduate and master's degrees. I studied fashion design for 6 years and it was a very important stage in my life. I grew not only personally, but also professionally and artistically. I became more conscious about consumption, sustainability, and being more eco-friendly in my daily routine and projects. After university, I felt that I would like to explore more about textiles and handmade artisanal crafts rather than continue in the fashion area. In 2016, I decided to move to Porto, home to the Portuguese textile industry core, where I stayed for almost 4 years, splitting my time between working as a textile designer in an artisanal rugs factory and my own textile projects. In my last year living in Porto, I focused entirely on my project, opening my first studio downtown, collecting waste from textile factories, and starting to work full time on it. At the beginning of 2020, I decided to move back to my roots. My 'starting point'. My studio is now located in the city where I was born and grew up: Albufeira. I now feel that I can not only be more connected with myself but also be closer to the environment that inspires me and to the people I love, my family.
Studio Vanessa Barragão is a textile art atelier focused on handmade and artisanal techniques, using waste to create artworks in the form of tapestries and rugs, showing the importance of preserving handmade processes and upcycling to fight against some of our planet's biggest issues.
My studio was founded in 2014. The beginning of the project was marked by the wool yarn collection developed during my master's degree. The 100% eco-friendly and artisanal collection was developed using only discarded wool from local farms. From working on this project, I became passionate about upcycling and the use of wool, so I decided to mix these two elements as the main bases of my creations, blending this new concept with the background I had in artisanal techniques.
From the beginning until October 2018, I used to make my creations at home. With an abundant and steady flow of commissions, I felt that it was necessary to change my workplace to a more dedicated space, focused entirely on my projects, which culminated in the opening of my first studio, located right in the heart of Porto. There I was able to collect more leftovers from the textile industry and have more space to create bigger artworks.
At the beginning of 2020, Studio Vanessa Barragão moved to the south of Portugal. I am now back in my home town and closer to my true inspiration: the sea.
My Inspiration, Vision & Mission
During my childhood, I used to travel a lot to the Caribbean Sea with my parents, and that is where I saw coral reefs for the first time. I was so excited that I still remember it to this day, like a photograph! All those colors and life forms were truly impressive and probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Sea was quite different back home.Traveling to the Caribbean year by year, the deterioration of the coral reefs was notorious, and quite obvious that it was happening at a very fast pace. The corals losing their distinctive colors and all those life forms gradually fading away made me feel very sad every time we visited. After attending university, I realized how polluting the textile industry really is - one of the most polluting in the world. In almost the entire process, chemicals are used either to treat the fibers or dyeing fabrics. Not to mention all the heavy and energy-wasting machinery used, resulting in an extremely harmful industry to our planet and most of us don't even realize it or really think about it. The mass production, much imposed by fast fashion, influenced a false necessity of buying more and more clothes and a bigger need to consume, even if unconsciously. To make things worse, these products have very short expiry dates due to their poor quality, leaving us with a huge trail of pollution in all forms.
All these factors have a negative impact on our natural environments and, consequently, many animal species lose their habitat. The ocean absorbs almost 90% of the pollution and unfortunately, it's also where most of the trash ends up. Huge islands of plastic form and can be seen from space, plastic can be found even in the most remote beaches you can think of, and dead fish wash ashore with stomachs filled with microplastics.Let's face it, the oceans are sick and many life forms are being threatened, including corals, an important pillar for the biodiversity found in the ocean. We need to stop for a moment, change our mindset, and learn new ways that will allow us to fight against the negative cycle we are in and save our planet. I firmly believe that by upcycling and preserving handmade production methods we can create new, more sustainable, and better products. This is the premise I base my work on and in which I pretend to inspire other people.
My Process, Techniques & Materials
The process of creation, the techniques, and materials used are a very important part of the studio as they are the main foundation part of this project, and what sets it apart.
The production process is slow and it requires a lot of passion and dedication. It's a very organic process since the evolution of each artwork becomes natural and spontaneous, according to my current mood and feelings, which culminates in an unpredictable and unknown final result, even to me.
The techniques are based on artisanal textile practices like latch hook, crochet, felt, weaving, embroidery, and macramé. All materials used to create the artworks come from waste, leftovers, and deadstock of Portuguese textile factories. All yarns are subject to a cleaning and careful selection process before being used.