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  • ARTE.M Association

ECO SHOWCASE: Unveiling the Faces and Places of Sustainable Art in Madeira

Updated: Apr 8

Laura Santos and Clara Benadon (USA) believe that art and ecology are a match made in heaven and hope to use that combination to advocate for the Earth.


While both are fiber artists, the two hail from opposite sides of the world: Laura Santos is a local from Camacha, Madeira, and Clara Benadon is far from her home in rural Maryland, USA. The budding artists came together over their shared passion for using textiles to explore environmental themes.

Each pass of Laura’s tapestry needle or click of Clara’s knitting needles can serve as a homage to the Earth’s beauty or as a research-based call to preserve it. They will share their eco-artistic vision through a joint exhibition at Art Center Caravel, which will open on April 12th and be available for viewing until June 2024. 

In Madeira, the project was supported by Art Center Caravel and the ARTE.M artistic and cultural association and became part of a global international eco-project “REcolour. Anti-Voque” with the participation of Portugal, Germany, and Latvia. The project is co-funded by the Erasmus Plus program of the European Union, and its objective is to fight against overclothes shopping and to develop best practices in sustainable eco-design.


Laura Santos will present her collection “Enchanted Forest,” which is an imaginary vision of a perfect forest safe from harm:

“The world nowadays is in complete chaos, and through this collection, I want to share an ironic message that everything is beautiful, safe, and magical. My enchanted forests have the precious help of many fairies, each with a specific function that keeps the forest in perfect equilibrium and appealing to everyone’s eyes.”

Laura pays special attention to detail, using different colors and material shapes to create unique and vibrant compositions. She also incorporates recycled wool from old clothes as a crucial element in her textile creations. Laura is completing her Master’s in Interactive Media Design at the University of Madeira. 

Clara Benadon is an early-career marine ecologist who temporarily moved to Funchal a few months ago.

The visit is part of her year-long Watson fellowship to study ties between fiber art and climate change around the world. While on Madeira, she splits her time between collaborating with researchers at the Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (MARE) and learning from local folkloric artists. Her pieces leverage fiber-based techniques—both learned on the island and from her personal repertoire—to highlight the work of local marine scientists.

She crochets lifelike seaweed from Portuguese linen in her pieces, drawing attention to an invasive algae that has recently arrived on the island. Clara also uses embroidery to depict a new form of plastic pollution that was discovered on Madeira. She hopes that her pieces will spark conversation about the current ecological events plaguing the island. 



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