Iva Viana — Sculpture Atelier


Interview: Joana Jervell
Photos: António Chaves

It is in her home city of Viana do Castelo that Iva Viana has dedicated herself to exploring and reinterpreting traditional stucco modelling techniques in an exercise of full creative freedom combined with an enormous passion. A creator of pieces with a unique identity, her studio receives orders for works in both public and private spaces, which leave no one indifferent.

Why did you start working in plaster? What are the biggest influences that led you to this art?

I studied sculpture at the Fine Arts Faculty in Porto, when I presented one or two works in plaster. However, my passion for this material came about when, at the end of my course, I was invited to work as a sculpture technician for a French decorative plasterwork company. It was there that I was introduced to stucco, and it was love at first sight. I spent six years working for that company before resigning to open my own studio in Viana do Castelo in 2013.

Do you have all the conditions you need to create while living in Viana?

Completely. Viana gives me the peace I need to create and the quality of life I have always wanted.

What can you tell us about the your techniques and production process?

My final works are always presented in plaster. It begins with the design, which is essential for thinking about the work and for the client to understand what it is we want to create. Then I model each piece, which could be in plaster or clay, depending on the project. Then I make the silicone mould that I use to reproduce the pieces. The entire process takes place in my studio.

What most interests you about your pieces?

I think plaster is an incredible material. There is so much that I still want to explore with it. At times I wish I was an octopus! (laughs)

What range of objects leave your studio most now?

During the seven years of its existence it has been essential for the studio to find a strategy that would allow it to remain open and survive: so, I decided to create a more commercial range of objects. The best-selling items at the studio are my flowers. Nevertheless, the production of these pieces is controlled — it can’t be any other way, since the entire process is manual.

Small or large scale — with which do you most identify?

As far as I’m concerned, the size of the work is unimportant. The only measurement that matters is the enthusiasm for a new project. For me the item might be miniscule, but the enthusiasm to create it must be enormous.

Is nature one of your main references?

The material (plaster) and all its potential is without doubt my greatest inspiration. Nature has always been present in the ornamental stucco that I find all over the country and the world.

Where in Portugal can we admire your work?

My work can be found in private and public spaces. It can be found in the Padaria Ribeiro in Maia (Porto), which is where you will find one of the studio’s first projects. It can also be found in the Memmo Princípe Real Hotel in Lisbon.

Your presence at London Craft Week with Portugal Manual had to be cancelled because of the current situation. Do you believe that artisanal work and the rediscovery of traditional Portuguese techniques are increasingly valued by an international audience?

Yes. I believe there is a growing international appreciation of our know-how and traditional techniques, although it is also important for this international audience to understand that we are not artisans or technicians who will produce exactly what they want. We are creatives who know what we are doing and want very much to be part of the project — to be able to think about it with the rest of the team.

What project would you love to do one day?

I would love to bring my work to the outside, to the façades of buildings, even if that would mean working with another material, since plaster only works inside.

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