Did you know that the Parisian haute couture firms entrust their embroidery work to Sevillian craftsmen? Seville hosts no less than ten workshops where yarn and needle specialists work with precision and passion. The gesture must be right; the vocation determined. We do not count the hours spent drawing gold vegetal motifs or geometric patterns on velvet. These real works of art are used to adorn the Virgins and other sculptures which abound in the city’s churches. A preserved craft in Seville like nowhere else.
I visit Mariano Martín Santonja’s studio, in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Seville. At a ground floor, and around a long table, four workers are engaged in embroidering a baldachin that will protect a Virgin sculpture during a local procession. Mariano watches over their work and takes the needle when he deems necessary. For 20 years he has devoted himself to this “applied popular art”, he who, when a child, was ecstatic in front of the sumptuous capes and tunics worn by the Baroque sculptures honored during Seville’s Holy Week. He explained to me that embroidering is not simply sewing on fabric: you have to play with the tones of the threads and the type of needle to “make the embroidery alive”. A true “expert work” that seeks to mimic all of nature’s nuances using thread and needle. When you enter a workshop like this, you immediately feel the contrast with the outside world: outside, it is the daily life on its accelerated pace; here, surrounded by pieces of old embroidery and pious images, time stops before the dedication and concentration of the embroiderers. Modern times, with their machines and their much sought-after practic, are very far. Is it not the perfect setting for the birth of art?
To visit the workshop of Mariano, contact them at 00 34 686 925513