Krrb recently made a pilgrimage to Lima, Peru, where it is estimated that there are some 100,000 professional scavengers. Earlier in the week we visited with Cuatro en un Baúl, a trio who, with the help of young Peruvian artists and designers, specialize in refurbishing vintage furniture, often giving it a new twist. Yesterday, it was on to the home/studio of artist and designer, Meche Correa and the studio/showroom/home of designer Vacide Erda Zimic. And today, our final day in Peru, we visit with the artist and founder of Taller Huaringa (The Witches’ Workshop), Maricruz Arribas.
Maricruz Arribas is a painter by trade but her keen eye extends far beyond the canvas. She is attuned to color and composition in such a deeply ingrained way that even her messes are beautiful, sprawling, picturesque tableaus.
It’s not difficult to pick out her 200 year-old home in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima. It sits subtly just off the street, careful not to disturb the historic block but not content to simply fit in with the crowd. When Maricruz renovated the structure recently she injected it with a shot of Tonka Trunk-Yellow that makes its unmistakable mark on the street-scape.
Step beyond the front gate and witness the seamless melding of old and new, inside and out. The front door is original as are its hinges.
Once inside the significant changes become more apparent. The plan was to tear down the outside wall but as the team proceeded with the demolition they loved the aesthetics and the utility of the structure. It now serves as a bookcase and a perfect setting for Maricruz’s ever-expanding collection of Peruvian pop (and not) cultural artifacts.
Throughout, Maricruz’s undying love of yellow is evident and help sets off the new from the old.
On the roof, a monstrous bougainvillea plant threatens to take over…
And conceals one of Maricruz’s friend’s woodcut sculpture…
The whole house is a study in reuse. The staircase leading from the roof to the patio utilizes the old roof as the new stairs.
From Maricruz’s house it’s a quick drive over to her studio, Taller Huaringa, or the Witches Workshop. Maricruz is most well-known as a painter and she uses Taller Huaringa as a space to explore her other work in which she incorporates found objects and scavenged material.
Scavenging is, of course a big part of this. Maricruz explains that her work at Taller Huaringa is about “paying respect to the ordinary things. It is about the magic of transformation.” Inside, the studio is a simply unbelievable collection of the things that dot everyday contemporary life. Mufflers, toothbrushes, thread spools, light-bulbs, rakes, toys, hairbrushes, shopping bags—all contained within a magical, light-filled space flooded with the artist’s signature yellow and accented by bright purple bougainvillea.
On the roof of the studio sits Maricruz’s treasure trove of a storage space—”where I keep all the things I’ve collected over the years but no one will let me keep anywhere else,” she says.
The reclaimed material starts to take shape at the Witches’ Workshop. Brushes become seating. Shopping bags serve as upholstery. New life is slowly breathed into old, forgotten, cast off objects.
Treasures lay hidden under every surface.
A visit to Taller Huaringa was a fitting end to Krrb’s visit to Peru. Deeply inspired by the creative reuse and the scavenging skill we witnessed in Lima, we got prepared to head back to New York with some ideas of our own. But not before being bid a fond farewell by one of Maricruz’s four pups. We look forward to our next visit to see what we can find!