Collaborator Profile: Maria Pia Jaime

Maria Pia Jaime is a Multidisciplinary Visual Artist from Argentina. For the Then, Now and Next public art commission, Pia Jaime created "Sutton's Blueprint". A 9 minute cyanotype animation weaving together archival images, original videos and stills and historical recordings from the local area.
Maria Pia Jaime

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I use drawing, photography, ceramics and building materials to reflect on ideas of belonging, memory, perception, mental health and feminism. I am a passionate Educator, a Community project leader, and a Founder Mother of the award-winning project Maternal Journal which provides free support for new mothers’ mental health through Art and journaling sessions. I also teach Photography at BritKids, Croydon. Recent collaborations and commissions include: “I see you”, a Photography curatorial project championing the work of carers, taking place in Fringe Bath Arts in May 2023 and “This is where we live”, cover illustration published by Harper & Collins.

In 2022 I completed my first Public Art commission. The Fabric of Society is a large-scale mural which combines Photography and mosaic techniques and community workshops with BAME groups that later informed the final design.

At the start of 2021, I was awarded an Artist Grant from Artists Network Sutton to run an online Photography Journaling Project for mothers and carers living in Sutton’s Borough. When the workshops culminated I edited and published the most relevant images and texts in the form of a book. Recently, my work has been included in the Procreate Project Archive and in publications by PhMuseum and Shutterhub.

How were you involved in Sutton STEAMs Ahead?

Since moving to the Borough in 2018 I have been fascinated by its rich history and beautiful landscape. During lockdown I used to walk the River Wandle Trail with my family. This deep connection to the landscape offered a source of inspiration to create artwork using the natural resources. This is when I started making Cyanotypes (Cyanotype is a camera-less technique that involves laying an object on paper coated with a solution of iron salts before exposing it to UV light and washing with water) using crashed flowers and weeds I found on my walks and fixing them with the water from the River.

I love the immediacy and ephemerality of the works, in addition to the excitement of lacking control over the final image, as it is highly dependent on exposure times and UV light available on the chosen moment.

I explored light and its power to create life envisioning the London Borough of Sutton and its institutions as a breathing, constantly changing organism. Mixing the past, by using images and films from the archive and present images, recorded by myself from different places and events in the same work.

Made up of over 2,000 cyanotype images (I stopped counting after the first 1,500), I originally planned to project the final piece on buildings and landmarks around the Borough. It was projected on the back wall facing the gardens at Whitehall Museum, and the location fitted perfectly the sentiment of the film, creating a beautiful and unique experience in Cheam.
The biological depiction of a human heart covered in blue and white colouring
A blue-tinted grid of 9 image panels showing several factory houses with smoke billowing out into the sky
Maria Pia Jaime developed Sutton's Blueprint, a series of images which was projected onto Whitehall Historic House in winter 2023.

Were there any highlights and/or take-aways from being part of Sutton STEAMs Ahead?

There were many highlights in the process. To have access to the archives was priceless, particularly having Abby (Project Officer) and Siobhan (Heritage Development Officer) facilitating and guiding the process made me appreciate even more the work of the people involved in preserving the history of the place.

During the process I also connected with other artists working in different disciplines, I learnt from them and we exchanged techniques and ideas. I am continuing my work with moving images.

I feel definitely more confident in working to deadlines and I have broadened my knowledge in working for a big and complex organisation. During this process I had to adapt and change some of my original ideas in order for the project to happen and these changes unexpectedly improved the work.

One of my goals was to tend a bridge between different generations and after listening to the lively conversations, I can confidently say it was achieved.To hear people from all ages and walks of life enjoy it was the most rewarding experience. I enjoyed listening to people's family histories and the light in their faces when recognising different places in the film.These are some of the comments from the public:
  • "It is magical"
  • "It is the best artwork ever presented in Cheam"
  • "This work should be shown in schools"
In terms of challenges, there were several. The one that I underestimated was the difficulty to find permissions to show the work in the public domain. This was hard for me as I have very clear ideas from the start of my creative process about how I would like the work to be seen. In the end the change was very positive and as a result I am aiming to be more flexible when planning future events.

What does STEAM mean to you?

As technology moves incredibly fast I believe it's important to provide tools for discovery, this being chemical processes (like making an iron solution), disseminating ideas on how to move a project from a simple idea to a complex finished work (all the calculations of materials, time and space) while also adding some magic into the mixture. 

I am incredibly passionate about camera less sustainable processes and history and I am planning to continue my research in these areas.

I believe that creativity is lifesaving definitely  from a mental health point of view, but also from a very practical aspect of finding alternative solutions to current problems. Answers appear when we step out of our comfort zone, a good example of this was Steve Jobs.

I read once what Laurene Powell Jobs said about him in his memorial: "It is hard enough to see what is already there, to remove many impediments to a clear view of reality, but Steve's gift was even greater: he saw clearly what was not there, what had to be there. His mind was never a captive of reality."

Imagination is Power.

What’s up next for you?

I am preparing an installation of the materials used for my film to show the public my creative process, on display in January 2024. I have also provided some original cyanotype prints to be sold at the gallery, benefitting the cultural department financially. I am also planning to visit a primary school in Hackbridge to deliver some workshops related to my process.
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Sutton STEAMs Ahead