Talking about her recent experiences and Cabilla, Maya said: “I heard about Cabilla through some friends and just knew I had to go. I have been seeking an opportunity to properly bring biophilia into my practice and display my work somewhere that would resonate with the idea of art as a medicine for a while. Cabilla is an incredible and rare place where science, nature, well-being and now art, come together. As a place it is bustling with restoration initiatives, scientific research, gorgeous retreats, incredible cooks, foragers and various visitors like university volunteers and photographers everyday. It is a soup of things that all feed my work so I feel blessed to be working on the sculptures here so close to an amazing animal.”
Maya goes on to say: “On arrival to Cabilla and all the days of my residency, I felt thoroughly cared for, treated with total respect and kindness and valued for what I am doing. It is a magical place to create and learn first hand about my immediate landscape, swim in the river, observe the beavers, sketch trees and spend a lot of time in the woods. There is something about this place that feels like a portal. A whirlpool into another world when you bounce on the dense mycelial networks under foot, come face to face with deer at night, observe the glittery skies above and sleep under the lullaby of rain and owls. My senses are rife but my mind is peaceful. I feel more myself than I have for a long time and I think this is the experience most people have when visiting here.”
Maya was immediately attracted to the forms and shapes created by the beavers at Cabilla: “Their striking teeth marks in fresh wood stood out so much as I walked through their enclosure. Around the river, their sculptures hang like ghostly traces of some serious jaw activity. However, their sculptures are made out of complete necessity, intuition and are part of a circular process: they eat the wood, fell the trees, use the felled trees to build their dams to make pools outside their riverbank lodges for protection from predators. In the meantime, their activity increases biodiversity and is a benefit to the ecosystem of the woodland in various other ways. Beavers have been doing this for millions of years so it is hugely undermining to argue otherwise.”
Maya continues: “I was really inspired when I began considering beavers as the first woodcarvers, beavers are the origin of the chisel, the wisdom keepers of woodland management, the first whittlers and architects. It is a rare opportunity for a sculptor who works with wood to collaborate and learn from the ancestors of sustainable woodland living and tree carving. I love working with traditional crafts and building my knowledge of living off the land. Looking to the beavers for inspiration feels a step closer to the origins of the way we build our houses, live within an ecosystem, and create from the materials on our doorstep.”
You can find out more about Maya Ronchetti and her work here or you can follow her on instagram @first.temples.