Outside the frame
As an artist ENRIQUE TABONE has ventured outside the predictable and into the world of creating objects. She gives Marie Benoît an idea of what art means to her
“I create to keep my mind active and this in turn helps me to be more creative,” Enrique Tabone tells me. She recently opened a boutique in Old Bakery Street, Valletta where she displays her creations, pieces of unusual jewellery, cufflinks, bags, work of art in themselves. She has obvious talent but has taken a different road to that of the average artist. She doesn’t just paint, she creates objects. What made her take this more original road – at least for Malta. “Living a professionally creative life may be considered by some as an easy option but in reality it is not that at all, especially in Malta. However, the more I create the more I want to explore other creative art projects that move beyond the professional work in my boutique.” The range of works she produces spans from designs for her own collections to bespoke products that are custom-made according to specifications provided by individual clients. “The works available in the shop provide just one aspect of my work,” she points out.
She describes her main work as ‘wearable art.’ “My specialty is making pieces from plexiglass acrylic. Every piece is unique. This is also because I combine fine art techniques with industrial methods. This gives my clients an opportunity to wear limited edition items. I have a website and sell online but by opening my boutique I have made my artistic creations accessible to more people.”
Apart from running her boutique which she has called QUE she also keeps track of her website www.que.com.mt. Both activities she considers her full-time occupation but also her profession. “Keep in mind that I also design and physically create each piece by hand,” she points out. In
her spare time she is involved in running a voluntary organization that systematically explores ways of preserving intangible Maltese cultural heritage. “I am rather passionate about this particularly because it is essential to preserve beautiful things that may easily be lost due to ‘benign’ neglect.”
And her idea of art? “Everyone has their own view of what art is. I believe that no two people have exactly the same view, even if they may come close to agreeing. Art is very personal. This is why I want to give each individual person who wears my work the possibility of experiencing their own unique self through the piece of art they are wearing. Similarly, in my large scale art installations, I have always been highly responsive to my physical surroundings. When people experience my art installations I want them to bring their own meanings and emotions to them. Anyone who beholds a work of art will have their own unique experience of it. In this way I am able to have a conversation with anyone who experiences my art and in turn they give the work the meaning I intended for it. You could say that I see art as a co-creation between artists and their audiences.”
Does she have any favourite artists? “I always find such a question rather hard to answer. However, if pressed I’d probably say Antoine Camilleri. His work is outstanding not only in a Maltese context but also from a much broader perspective. His unique style will be appreciated for centuries to come but this is not the only reason why I like his work. The reason is rather personal as his work provided the first point of contact for a very significant relationship, which I cherish greatly. Although I never actually met the artist, through his work I was able to see that there are other ways to look at life in Malta as an artist.”
Apart from the local Camilleri is there anyone else? “If I were to pick one contemporary artist that would be Mona Hatoum, the Lebanese-born Palestinian video and installation artist. I feel an affinity with aspects of her early years in Lebanon and her dissatisfaction with producing purely commercial work. She has also had a massive influence on my views about the way people who view art inhabit the space of the work to complete the intended effect.”
Enrique is in a class of her own and puts into practice everyday her own unique way of looking at art and artistic objects.