Life in a rut. Office, computer, phone … And every day is just like the previous one. Every night secretly dreaming of what we once believed and have put aside in the name of raising children, paying bills, the ‘serious’ stuff, which grounded us to become functioning individuals. Dreaming of what it would be like if we could … chase the wind. We set illusive boundaries, but if we look beyond the edge of our little world, we will see that out there, there are peaks and challenges, and the true meaning of our days.
“I know who I believe in,” says Maria Maneva and begins piecing the puzzle of her life together again. Works of art beautifully arranged out of pebbles and shells. And who would have thought? Her days like her paintings come to life under her fingertips!
Giving up her occupation in order to concentrate on mosaics. What were you occupied with before?
With finance and a little bit of accounting. My high school education was accounting and my Bachelors degree major was in Agricultural Economics from the Varna University of Economics.
Explain this contradiction. The profession that you chose in life suggests another type of character. In the end you landed up in the world of art?
As a child I did photographic painting. God had given me the talent to paint and do something with my hands, but then my parents decided that being an artist is quite a frivolous pastime and you can not feed yourself or earn a living doing this. They decided that I should do a desk job. And indeed I did but this robbed me of an awful lot.
How much time did you spend doing this profession?
Unfortunately, it’s my second year not working in this field. But now I feel really free.
Why do you say “unfortunately”?
Because I did not quit much earlier. Just my calling was not there.
How did you decide to take this step?
This is extremely courageous -to leave the familiar and to transgress beyond the limitations of “responsible behavior”. My colleagues thought I was leaving safe ground and searching for unchartered territories. Nobody took me seriously.
How did your family take it?
In this regard my husband fully supported me. He encourages me and enjoys what I do, even scouring beaches with me for pebbles and shells.
Did something special happen, did you have a sudden brainwave or did the idea gradually develop?
In 2008 my husband took me to the apartment of a craftsman, an acquaintance of his living in the village ‘Kitka’ namely, Galia Blagoeva. There for the first time I saw pictures made entirely from stones. She gave me a small souvenir depicting a tulip and it hung for a long time on my wall, while my desire slowly grew, to duplicate something similar. So I started searching for pebbles and I battled to adhere them to a canvas, until it became second nature. Now I do a mixed media technique with shells. I just wanted to try different things.
When did the moment arrive when you knew that it was the right decision and things started to take off?
I realized as I quit my occupation, even before having created anything yet. One can not make a few paintings and expect great things.
Were you not filled with the fear of failure?
No. I know who I believe in, and that’s enough for me. I wrote my motto: If you can believe, all things are possible. If you stick with this attitude, you can not fail. Even if there is nothing at the moment, I know something will come up to make up for the previous shortfall.
How do you make paintings with mosaics?
The materials are from nature and I find them by myself. Walking along the beach and combing it, I then sort the shells or objects by type. When I have thought up a theme, I do a sketch and arrange them casually to see how the colours look on the canvas and then begin to stick them down. One type of my pieces is made just from stones, first a wooden frame is assembled, a backing is mounted and the foundation is created on top of the backing. After drying, the pebbles are adhered, arranging them with tweezers. Once dry the piece is varnished to complete. The colors come alive and retain their luster.
Where is your workplace? Do you need a certain atmosphere or rituals to work?
My work place is a small corner of paradise where I can sprinkle pebbles and shells to my heart’s content, and in most cases I sit on the floor bent over the canvas, surrounded by piles of material. Of course I need tranquility, because I feel best when I’m alone. Listening to music or a radio transmission. When there is someone near me, they will inevitably try to give me ideas on what to do and where to glue something and at what angle.