ARTS THREAD Rebecca D’Eramo – Student Q&A – Global Design Graduate Show 2022 in collaboration with Gucci


In advance of the deadline for Global Design Graduate Show 2022 in collaboration with Gucci, we interview Rebecca D’Eramo, a 2022 graduating student from Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art (BAFA).

Our Global Design Graduate Show 2022 in collaboration with Gucci is open internationally to all art and design undergraduate or postgraduate students graduating in the Academic Year 2021-22 and the deadline to apply is August 31 2022.

See Rebecca’s ARTSTHREAD Portfolio

ARTSTHREAD:Where are you from?

Rebecca D’Eramo: I am from South Africa.

ARTSTHREAD: What is the name, theme, concept and final outcome of your graduate project/thesis?

Rebecca D’Eramo: ‘Those of Ours’, is a collection of works displayed as an installation. I have always been fascinated by the stories and the people in our lives that live before us. With my work, I explore the past of my family through the importance of memory, landscapes, objects and materiality.

Born to a Cypriot mother and an Italian father, I have inherited a fairly turbulent family history. My grandparents grew up in countries at times of significant conflict and from this conflict, themes of movement, displacement, removal and return emerge. With these themes in mind, the materiality of my project became important. Almost the entirety of my work is made up of materials that are used when moving house and are also disposable: mobile and transient.

The subject matter of my work is made up of three differing yet connected visual aspects as well as an audio element of my grandmothers sharing their memories. These three elements are: landscapes, taken from photographs and made with layers of newsprint that are presented in light boxes that are made from cardboard moving boxes; family photographs, made from layers of newsprint are presented in light boxes made from suitcases, and a series of relief sculptures, made from polystyrene and layers of toilet paper, which become part of a frieze, referring to objects and various interior spaces, which I recall from my childhood.

When these works are displayed together as an installation, it somehow feels as though the viewer has stumbled upon a collection of forgotten personal belongings, that hold stories and memories, as images are seen lit up inside moving boxes and suitcases.

Essentially my work focuses on the places, things and objects that survived after all the removal and displacement. Memory is fleeting and ever-changing, and yet it is what I depend on most in the exploration of my history. It is with this, that I attempt to express the stories of those before me, often with overlapping narratives involving Cyprus, Italy and South Africa, in a way that evokes the ephemeral qualities of memory.

ARTSTHREAD:Can you describe your concept and creative process?

Rebecca D’Eramo: In many ways, The concept of my work was realized through the creative process. The materials in which I used, namely newsprint and polystyrene led my hand in making works which looked completely unlike anything I had ever made. The material has its own qualities and commanded different techniques from me, which I had to consider constantly while creating. The newsprint is delicate and ever-changing, much like memory and I worked carefully when cutting and layering the pieces to reveal an image. The polystyrene, when used to make relief sculptures, often distorts perspective and proportion. This distortion also refers to the often unreliable nature of memory which I found myself referring to often regarding the concept of my work.

Rebecca D’Eramo Rebecca’s final project, ‘Those of Ours’ is an installation exploring her family’s past through memories, landscapes and material objects.

ARTSTHREAD: Can you explain the thinking behind the key concepts and outcomes of your project?

Rebecca D’Eramo: My project began as an attempt to situate myself within my family’s history, as I often felt as though I could not claim it as my own.

My maternal great-grandparents become refugees after their country was invaded. All of my grandparents immigrated to South Africa from Italy and Cyprus and I was born and raised in South Africa. This history sometimes felt distant and I wanted to re-explore it. As my work progressed, I found myself focusing on three main elements, as well as an audio element of my grandmothers’ sharing their memories with me. These three elements were landscapes, portraits and objects from various interior spaces which I recall from my childhood.

I have learnt through the process of making and through the exploration of the home, both from its location and landscape, as well as the objects and ‘belongings’ which make up its interior, that the history of my family is altogether mine because it is theirs, or as it is said in Greek, oi dikoi mas (those of ours).

ARTSTHREAD: Are you 100% back on campus or are you still working all/partly from home? Please describe your environment?

Rebecca D’Eramo: When I was completing my final year at university last year, we were 100% back on campus, although many people chose to work mainly from home. I felt I needed the space of my studio on campus to fully realize my work. However, it was not always easy, as our studio spaces were shared and if anyone in our studio had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for Covid-19, then we had to halt production, leave all our works on campus and isolate for 10 days before being able to return to our works and creative processes.

Rebecca D’Eramo Rebecca looked to her grandparents for inspiration, who emigrated to South Africa from Italy and Cyprus.

ARTSTHREAD: Has being back on campus given you a new perspective on the university/your class colleagues/tutors?

Rebecca D’Eramo: Being back on campus, definitely gave me a new perspective, particularly in recognizing the importance of in-person lecturer supervision, as well as the opportunity to engage with my fellow class members on our works. The feedback from this was most valuable.

ARTSTHREAD: Has the need for online learning changed your outcomes?

Rebecca D’Eramo: In my third year at university, the need for online learning really did influence my outcomes. It was then when I began to work with newsprint. We were required to work from home using any materials we had or could find. I was fortunate in finding a large roll of newsprint in my garage, which my family used to wrap fragile items in when moving house. It was from working remotely that I was able to begin experimenting with newsprint.

ARTSTHREAD: Did you need to innovate when you had to work by yourself at home?

Rebecca D’Eramo: Definitely, it was the most creatively challenging year during my university experience. Access to materials and resources were extremely limited and communicating virtually made supervisory guidance difficult to implement and student interaction limiting.

ARTSTHREAD: What’s one thing that has helped you get through the last 2 years?

Rebecca D’Eramo: Being creative and making work.

ARTSTHREAD: What are the most positive learning outcomes from this process?

Rebecca D’Eramo: Gaining new skills and insights, as well as broadening the creative abilities.

ARTSTHREAD: How do you think design can help improve the world?

Rebecca D’Eramo: Design can improve the world in so many ways, it is difficult to name them all. It can improve mental stimulation, quality of livelihood and it can even go as far as improving global issues.

ARTSTHREAD: What are your hopes for the future?

Rebecca D’Eramo: To be able to create without any limitations or restrictions.

ARTSTHREAD: Thank you Rebecca – we wish you all the very best!

See Rebecca’s ARTSTHREAD Portfolio

Images in slider: Rebecca and her work

Our Global Design Graduate Show 2022 in collaboration with Gucci is open internationally to all art and design undergraduate or postgraduate students graduating in the Academic Year 2021-22 and the deadline to apply is August 31 2022.

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