Formidable Mag caught up with Joanna Hruby in her studio in Ibiza where she is bringing to life the island’s myths and legends with her company, Theatre of the Ancients.
Formidable Mag: How is your working process? Joanna Hruby: I sculpt beings from raw, natural materials, primarily from cardboard that I find on street corners and beside rubbish bins. I would call my creations ‘puppets’ but they often evade straightforward classification, they can be masks, costume, scenic art or ritual object.
F.M. Is there a common trace to your pieces? J.H: What these objects always have in common is that they are the long-lost elements of a world we access through our mythical imagination, dreams and visions, that world which we first entered into as children, through stories and fairytales.
F.M: Do you work with any basic conceps in mind? J.H: My work is based on the idea that we, as human beings, desperately need a connection to that mythical landscape which our hearts tell us still exists within us all, even though as adults we might have closed the door to it. We need enchantment, we need to touch, even just briefly, a world in which magic is real. When we find ways to enter that realm, whether through theatre, literature, music or endless other creative means, it allows us the freedom to know ourselves in new, deeper ways. And that’s what I’m trying to do, sculpt an alternative, mythical reality, and invite others into it through theatre, performance and storytelling.
F.M: Why Ibiza? J.H: In 2015 I relocated my life and work from South West England to Ibiza, Spain, where I founded Theatre of the Ancients. To me, the island of Ibiza is a terrain which gives me the space and freedom to create my work and express my ideas. Since I was a child visiting Ibiza on family holidays, I felt that I was treading on sacred land. Now, as a resident of the island, that feeling hasn’t changed, but I have a rational understanding of it, this island’s red soil vibrates the ancient magic of civilisations which are millenia old, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Moors… each brought layers of depth and meaning to this island which can be sensed in the landscape today. My work is an attempt to give life to that ancient magic, to the stories that are buried beneath the transient cloak of mass tourism.
F.M: Would you say the island of Ibiza influences your work ? J.H: Many people refer to Ibiza as a microcosm of the Earth as a whole. It’s a lush, ancient landscape seeped in tradition, history and folklore, but threatened by the modern perils of globalisation, capitalism and greed. My ongoing experiment is to see whether, through bringing to life the ancient spirits and stories of this land, I can help people to fall in love with them. Perhaps only when we truly feel enchanted by the landscape around us, can we create a new, more respectful relationship with it.