Angelina Maia has lived in Portugal for 30 years, with 14 of those years spent in the beautiful Algarve. The complexity and beauty of her sculptures is what initially grabbed my attention, I just couldn’t believe it was made out of card.
Angelina explained that her sculptures take about three weeks to create but that it depends on each piece, for example, her cardboard dress at Casa Velha “took about four months to finish.” Angelina’s enthusiasm for cardboard is infectious and you would never have known that she is in fact a self-taught artist and that her background is in business. Her talent really speaks for itself.
Angelina told me that she worked with her husband in a family business in the north of Portugal and that when they moved to the Algarve, she did translation work as her children were young at the time. “After a year or so I got fed up and I needed to do something with my hands.” It was actually a conversation with her family at Christmas that sparked this journey in 2015, “they asked me what I would really like to do and to their surprise I said I would really like to make cardboard furniture, having seen it 10 years prior on TV. It stayed with me and I wanted to do something different so I took cardboard furniture lessons in France and my first piece was an armchair.”
Forever Flourishing & Evolving
Angelina’s beautiful creations have greatly evolved, having started by making cardboard furniture and other items to sell to tourists at Loulé art craft markets through Loulé Creativo. “Anything I could think of I would do, from lamps to jewellery to sardine-themed items”. Today, Angelina is represented by numerous galleries where her delicate and beautiful sculptures are sold around the world. “A gallerist, saw my lamps made of cardboard and wanted to exhibit my work but if I could do something more artistic, that challenged me and I worked for three months until I had my sculptures to show her and she loved it”.
“It has been a journey since I started but with the same passion, except now I concentrate on women’s bodies and fashion.” I love the way Angelina’s sculptures speak volumes, especially on the subject of femininity, “I am passionate about women’s bodies and I have had many friends with breast cancer and so I started a series with the theme of breast cancer, with one breast missing and that did inspire my journey and it reinforces that women’s bodies are beautiful despite health problems.”
Angelina then proudly showed me her remarkable bustier sculpture which was inspired by the heart of Viana and contains embedded Swarovski crystals. And when it comes to fashion-inspired pieces, Angelina told The Portugal News that “I like to see the grand couture in Paris and that gives me many ideas which is why I made the dress, I imagined someone wearing it.” I told Angelina, you never know what the future holds and she agreed that she would “love to see my bustiers worn.”
Angelina’s sculptures are famously gold and silver but Angelina has experimented with different colours including one in black with platters of paint, which I love. “At the beginning I worked with raw materials and my sculptures were just raw with varnish but then I started experimenting. The one with splatters of paint actually came from being approached by a pop art gallery in Switzerland and their gallery inspired me to make some fun colourful pieces.” Jokingly adding the therapeutic side of splatting paint on the grass outside.
Angelina is currently preparing to exhibit in Paris next month in which she is creating a wall of cardboard creations. She also told The Portugal News that she does do pieces by commission, having even done sculptures of people’s faces which she can mould.
Art Connects Women in Dubai
When asked for a highlight in her career, Angelina told The Portugal News that she was honoured to be selected to represent Portugal in the 5th edition of Art Connects Women in Dubai which is under the patronage of UNESCO, which brought 115 women artists from all over the world together. I was very proud to represent Portugal and it was great experience where I got to speak with other women artists and see their work.
Where to see Angelina’s Sculptures
Angelina’s sculptures are currently exhibited across the Algarve in Aderita Artistic Place Gallery in Vale do Lobo, Quinta Style in Almancil, Tavira d’Artes Gallery in Tavira and Lady in Red Gallery in Lagoa. Her work is also exhibited in Sintra’s LM Gallery and was previously in a five-star hotel in Porto, in which she hopes to exhibit in the north again but also outside of Portugal like in Germany for example “I try to do about two fairs a year and I enjoy visiting new places but it is my husband who pushes me and he is a great supporter.” Her sculptures are also exhibited in art galleries in France and Switzerland and private collections all over Europe but her sculptures have travelled even further than that, in Canada, USA and even India.
Angelina also shares her passion for cardboard with others by hosting cardboard furniture construction workshops so if you are interested in learning techniques, please do not hesitate to contact her. For more information, please visit or @maiaangelina on Instagram. For commissions and workshop details please email .