Barcelona Cultura

'We have lost our connection with the land'. Interview with Claudy Jongstra

We interviewed international Dutch artist, Claudy Jongstra, known for her monumental artworks and architectural installations, whose organic surfaces and nuanced tones reflect her masterful innovations. In the temporary exhibition Pastorals futures. Wool Migrations you can see his works, among which a large tapestry stands out.

Claudy Jongstra employs ancient wool felt techniques to create organic surfaces. Establishing her studio in rural Netherlands in 2001, Jongstra started an ecological venture, maintaining indigenous sheep and nurturing botanical gardens to foster sustainability in her creative process. Beyond her art, she collaborates with local communities and programs, aiming to transform the regional landscape towards diversity, inclusivity, and ecological harmony, intertwining narratives of people, land, and knowledge.

What inspired you to focus your artistic practice on sustainability and natural materials, such as wool, and how does this exhibition reflect those values?

Coming from a background in fashion design at a time when fast fashion was about to accelerate, I discovered the material wool and was intrigued by the strong indigenous context, where wool had been a highly valued material. Due to alienation from nature, we have lost our connection with the land and also with knowledge in processing natural materials. This exhibition can contribute to a “new awareness” about this smart fibre and the possibilities of using this source of waste in a contemporary way.

Could you share with us some insights into the innovative ways or applications you've explored concerning wool as a raw material?

Wool has magnificent qualities and can be used as soft architecture, it improves the acoustic quality, neutralises humidity, no toxic flame retardant applications needed, humanises spaces. In clothing, wool keeps you warm in Winter and cool in Summer.

How do you see the role of artists and collectives in raising awareness about the environmental, cultural, and economic unsustainability linked to the decline of shepherding and extensive ranching?
In our study activities, new curricula are being developed: Earth-based Environmental Education based on artistic values. We started our LOADS school two years ago and here we share our knowledge in holistic work from Farm to Fiber. We also stimulate our collaboration with farmers to start new crops for diversity, such as dye plants. The farm of the future has to diversify and will be "cool" and attractive to younger generations; Our experience in working with farmers is that they create a podium for research where designers, artists, scientists, etc.: a sustainable identity.

Claudy in your view, how do you believe the fashion industry can effectively incorporate sustainable materials like wool while considering both commercial viability and environmental consciousness?

The only possible way is that the system CHANGES. Consumers are used to non fair/realistic prices and the margins are exploding. There is a group on consumers  interested in  a transparent production chain, alternative initiatives – for the moment small- and willing to pay other prices settings.

Finally, could you share any other individuals or ongoing projects related to sustainable materials or eco-activism that you find particularly interesting within your field?

One great example is the online Earth Shop, an initiative by Arizona Muse – model and role model/ pioneer for change. We need these changemakers!

Ajuntament de Barcelona