Portuguese textile artist Vanessa Barragão uses recycled yarns to create intricate tapestries of ecosystems by hand, depicting the diverse world that exists underwater.
Barragão uses a variety of techniques including hand tufting, crocheting, embroidery, knitting and weaving, to create textured rugs, carpets, and wall hangings made predominantly from from wool that would otherwise have been disposed of. Her tapestries resemble the multifaceted layers and tactile structures of coral reefs: imitating fungi, algae, fringing reefs and marine crustaceans. Barragão works with both the familiar ocean color palette of blue and teal hues, and earthy, muted colors to portray the dying reefs. Reef ecosystems are susceptible to coral bleaching due to rising water temperatures—an issue caused by global warming due to climate change. “The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world”, explains Barragão. “In almost every process chemicals are used… It is extremely harmful for our world and it affects different natural environments; particularly the ocean which absorbs 90% of the atmosphere’s pollution.” By upcycling the materials for her tapestries, Barragão aims to bring awareness to this predicament.
All images © Vanessa Barragão