Using textile design to track the history of nutmeg

Marta Velasco Valesco on what inspired her #Antenna2017 project, Pulau Banda.

Part of the Project

Marta Velasco Velasco's work is driven by narrative and materiality and she works within the fields of art direction, set design and textile design. 

Nutmeg was once considered the “Holy Grail of Spices”; worth its weight in gold, it was a symbol of luxury and prestige. Until the 19th-century, the world’s only source of nutmeg was the Banda Islands —a tiny archipelago in today’s Indonesia— imagined by Europeans as a luxuriant tropical Eden.

In the 17th-century the Dutch controlled all the islands except one, Run, an islet claimed by the English.

In their urge to keep the nutmeg monopoly, the Dutch agreed to cede Manhattan (back then called New Amsterdam) to the English in return for Run. After this hype, the spice started loosing its value and Banda got forgotten.

Pulau Banda is a collection of textiles and wall hangs inspired by this story and influenced by contemporary Indonesia. It plays with fact, fiction and storytelling to represent that world. The work integrates silk, bamboo and recycled plastic to comment on changes of material value while transporting us to the islands.

In this video, the #Antenna2017 speaker, talks more about inspiration for her work.