SPANISH SCULPTOR Mireia Serra may live and work a world away from the Sunshine Coast’s sparkling shores, but her work deeply resonates with the ocean city.
That is precisely why her stunning wall and miniature bronze sculptures fit so perfectly at Noosa’s The G Contemporary, the Hastings Street gallery renowned for its diverse representation of local, national and international contemporary artists.
Mireia is from Barcelona, Spain – a city famous for art and architecture, food and football. But her intricately detailed sculptures speak of the ocean; whales, divers, and surfers are some of the characters that feature in her work and reflect her own deep connection with the sea.
The G Contemporary owners Karen and Steve Beardsley discovered Mireia’s sculptures, which are featured in galleries in Europe, Asia and the United States, at an art fair in Hong Kong. They were instantly drawn to them.
The feeling was mutual, as Mireia explains.
“My interest in finding a gallery in Australia aligned with the fact that my works with marine themes, such as whales, divers and surfers, were being acquired by collectors in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore,” she tells salt.
“I believe our artistic connection, though remote, is based on a shared love for the coast and the ocean and a mutual desire to transcend geographical borders.”
Karen explains that it is important for the gallery to represent an eclectic collection of artists, as it connects to a wide national and international audience.
“The crucial elements of any artist we represent are that we connect with the work ourselves; the work needs to be of the highest standard; we need to be able to work well with the artist; and the art needs to be commercially viable.
“Working with Mireia ticks all these boxes.
“She is one of our top-selling artists and is consistently producing new work.”
Mireia’s sculptures are meticulously detailed works of bronze and iron, featuring human figures, whales, maps, books and globes. Some are freestanding, and some are created to hang on a wall.
According to Karen, Mireia’s eye for detail is what makes her work so compelling.
“All her pieces have incredible body language, which can evoke an emotion easily,” Karen tells salt.
“And, they are beautifully and professionally assembled to produce a narrative the viewer can interpret in their own way. We almost always have a wall of her work available, as it definitely attracts clients into the gallery.”
“People love the little figures together with little items like books, record players and cameras.
“There are the tiny details that you often can’t see until you are up close.”
One example of such a detail is the map coordinates that are etched into some of the whale sculptures, which signify its journey – always beginning with the coordinates of Barcelona, of course, where the journey begins.
Mireia has even been commissioned, Karen says, by people to incorporate the personal and relevant coordinates of their own life journey into certain pieces.
Never short of ideas for new work, Mireia says she finds inspiration in the everyday observances of the world around her. “I rest, absorb energy and have new experiences,” she tells salt.
“I observe people, read, travel and get to know places and people.
“Many of the characters in my sculptures are shown doing these things, so if you want to understand how I get inspiration, you just need to closely examine some of my sculptures. All of this recharges my energy and ideas, which I then channel into long hours of work in the studio.”
She explains that her work focuses on reflecting life through small moments.
“I believe that happiness is composed of these vital moments. I develop everyday themes of relaxation and wellbeing, often with characters accompanied by iconic objects such as books, maps, cameras and globes.
“I use whales as a symbol of the journey, both physical and emotional. The sea, its colour and its light are important sources of inspiration for me.
“Additionally, I address topics related to the protection of the Earth and endangered species.”
Mireia begins the creative process by sculpting characters and objects in sculptor’s wax and creating silicone moulds of them.
Then, in the foundry, she transforms the figures into bronze and builds scenes to go with them.
“Each piece is like a frame from a movie, where the choice of each element is crucial to convey my message and connect with the viewer,” she says.
“For my wall sculptures, I use geometric structures of iron, such as bars, squares and surfaces of bronze and brass.
“Finally, I apply coloured patinas; and the title of the work plays an important role, as it provides clues and summarises the idea.”
Mireia had dreamt of becoming a sculptor since childhood, when she first shaped clay at school. The experience, she says, “deeply marked” her.
She studied fashion, however, and worked in the fashion industry before finally returning to her dream.
She became a graduate of the Llotja School of Arts and Crafts in Barcelona, specialising in iron and bronze sculpture.
Mireia has no regrets about her foray into the fashion world; in fact, she believes it actually enhanced her overall artistic journey.
“It gave me discipline and the ability to incorporate elaborate details into my bronze sculptures, making my work unique and recognisable,” she says.