CLUSTER interviews: Minerva Freire

CLUSTER London presents CLUSTER Interviews: every week we will be introducing you to an artist (or more) we love. In the next few weeks we will present you the works and lives of three kick-ass ladies: Minerva Freire, Darya Shnykina and Patricia Krawczyk. The three explore the depths of femininity in their work but have completely different takes and approaches on the matter.

For our very first interview we have a seasoned clusterer - Minerva Freire. Minerva’s illustrations explore love and sensuality - her work breaks the taboo around the female body and aims to normalise nudity, demolishing the societal association of the body with sexuality and scandal. We talk vegan cafes, boobs and overcoming the dreaded creative block.

Hi Minerva, where in the world do we find you today?

In East London... tomorrow we’ll see.

What are your top three event recommendations from any field (culture, exhibitions, art, cinema, music, etc) from last month?

I went to The John Soane's Museum 4 years ago and went back last week, and every time I go back, I’m stunned by the beauty of the place. His house has been kept as it was at the time of his death nearly 180 years ago and it is full of antiquities, furniture, sculptures, architectural models, paintings – including work by Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto… there is even a sarcophagus! In my opinion it’s one best place to get inspired - and free!

Wild food Cafe Islington one of my favourites restaurants. It’s plant-based and I love going there from time to time to have fun with new textures or flavours that I’ve never tried before. Going there is more an experience itself than a normal meal. I found experimenting with food is very fun and you always have something new that you didn’t even know existed! Plus the place is very pretty.

TATE Britain. I love going there, they have an amazing permanent collection, the architecture is beautiful and I really enjoy just wondering around. I used to go there very often just to relax and find some tranquility (During the week though!)

Summer Yet, Minerva Freire

Summer Yet, Minerva Freire

When was the first time you realised that drawing as a form of creative expression? Your work revolves around femininity and being a woman, how did gender became your subject matter?

I’ve been drawing since I was young… When I had tantrums or I was crying for any reason my mum used to give me some pencils and paper and I was immediately calm.

I always like to draw girls, but it’s been a process to realise that this was my subject matter. I heard comments like: “Guys follow you just because of the boobs” or “we like your illustrations but can you do some without showing boobs?” or “ I think this is too much” and so on… So I knew that I wanted to do something about it. I don’t understand why boobs are inappropriate or too much.

Through my illustrations, I want to connect with people who would like to live in a world where we are comfortable to be ourselves, with our failures, our vulnerability and our weirdness. I think showing some of my illustrations and their bodies in an honest way is maybe one way to put across this idea. On the other hand, maybe it’s because the human body is just a beautiful object in its most honest and vulnerable state.

What is your background? When did you first realise you enjoy art and drawing?

I decided to study Fine Arts and later I did a Masters in Graphic and Digital Design. I think my agency background has had a big impact on my style as I think my illustrations are quite graphic and I like using very bright bold colours from my digital background. I don’t remember the first time I enjoyed art and drawing specifically… My mum was always painting and doing sculpture, so I think I grew up in an artistic environment.

How do you find motivation when you lack motivation? Do you have a ritual that gets you out of bed and puts on the creative hat?

I see lack of motivation as a part of the process, you can’t be super inspired everyday, so I try to take it philosophically and be kind to myself, relax, do some yoga and have a swim at the Lido is one of the best things for my mind. I love being in the water where I can see the sky… If I have a deadline, I still try to give myself some time to relax and disconnect but keep the subject in the back of my mind. I really believe the ideas flow more easily when you are calm and relaxed.

Why did you take part in Cluster. How was the group show beneficial to you? 

It’s lovely to be part of a group of artists, everyone I’ve met in Cluster is very nice, lovely and helpful. Cluster is a great platform to get your work out there. It’s very important for me to have feedback or suggestions on my work and Cluster has helped me with that.

What was your favourite part of Cluster?

The exhibitions! You always meet new and interesting artists from very different backgrounds and it’s also a great opportunity to meet the people who like and support your work. I can’t wait for the next one!