“En el corazón de todo arte grandioso hay una melancolía esencial.

At the heart of all great art is an essential melancholy.”

Federico García Lorca

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Portrait by Chris Gambrell_ 

At the end of April, I received a letter from Luz Camino—a Madrid-based jewelry designer and friend. She included a photograph of herself: a classy, beautiful woman wearing a light brim hat, sitting peacefully and elegantly on a wooden garden bench.
The bright spring day filled my own room, as I became immersed in the smells and sounds, felt the refreshing wind in my hair and light of the sun on my skin. Indeed, the very name of this amazing lady, radiating warmth, sophistication and soft luminescence, means ‘light’.

Madrid, April 30th, 2020

Dear Maria,

It is truly kind of you to think about me and my family. We are all in good health, thank God. I trust that you and your family are equally well. Hopefully, we will all manage to get through these difficult times we are living in the best way we can.

I must admit I felt privileged from day one. My dearest friend and partner invited me to seclude myself in his home outside Madrid, together with him and his Argentinian cousin who was visiting at the time and could not return home. It is a spacious house with a garden that allows us to stroll and breathe fresh air. We are like the Three Musketeers ready to have the best time possible.

On March 13th, I set off to this home just a few days after returning from Maastricht, where I had an exhibition of my pieces at TEFAF represented by Deborah Elvira gallery. I packed a quick suitcase with four trousers, four shirts, four pullovers, two pairs of shoes, two pairs of earrings, some watercolors and pencils, some gems in order to finish some pending designs, and two books.  I thought the lockdown would last three weeks at most, but we were evidently wrong because I have been here for seven weeks now…
 
These past few weeks, I have had the privilege of witnessing the blooming of spring: from the dormant trees, bushes and plants wearing their naked winter outfits until now, when they have reached their maximum splendor. I have never experienced this with such calmness and consistency. We rarely have the time to actually ‘see’ when looking, and we have now been given the opportunity to notice wonderful things that happen around us which we usually miss in our day-to-day rush.
 
Every day I go out in the garden to see what new flower it gifts me with that day. I have seen a peony’s life, from the bud to its full bloom and how it gradually wilted. I have discovered nests in trees that, as you know, Maria, will end up inspiring new jewelry designs. I have noticed the silence of the absence of cars and planes that allows us to hear the trilling of the different birds.
 
 

Every morning, I read for a while in bed and jump out at nine to have breakfast in my robe and nightgown. We try to do so all three together.

After a few days locked up, we decided that we had to cooperate in a solidarity project and so we started making reusable masks to be distributed free of charge among nursing homes in Madrid, made with the fabric surplus donated by Neck & Neck – a children’s clothes brand. I have to say, my sewing machine has become my favorite object or fetish these days. My tool for helping others.

We dedicate several hours a day to sewing the masks after breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have already delivered several hundred.

Not a day goes by where I do not do some exercise, for an hour or so. After working out, I get dressed and put on makeup as if I were invited out to lunch. I believe it is important to feel beautiful.

In the afternoon we play cards, canasta and crapette, very much fighting to win. At night, we watch a movie, a TV series or the news.

Aside from all these activities, I dedicate some time to work on jewelry designs. How could I not? I just finished a custom-made pair of earrings for a client through Moda Operandi and am developing my new collection that will be shown at Bergdorf Goodman at the end of the year.

Every day I talk with my family as well – it’s a big one! – and with friends who are spending isolation on their own. We have group videocalls with my children and grandchildren, which is fun and helps us keep in touch. I also stay in touch with Ana, my assistant, and a thousand times more with my son Fernando who, as you know, works with me and is my greatest help and support.

He has been involved in my designs for a long time now and he is behind the conception of several pieces. He plays an essential role in the development of my work and I am so happy to see that he shares my vision when it comes to jewelry, knowing that he will be able to follow in my footsteps. As you can imagine, after my telling you all of this, the days feel rather short and there has not been a single one where I felt bored or tired of isolation.

Sad, however, unfortunately yes, because as a result of this terrible pandemic, we have lost dear friends that I shall never forget. I hope, dear Maria, that you are taking good care of yourselves. Personally, I cannot wait to work full time again soon so that I can go back to collaborating with the great team of craftsmen who give life to my designs.

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