What better way to celebrate the start of the new season with the beautiful blooms of Maria’s muses?
Maria Rivans is known for her collaged portraits of vintage Hollywood starlets with overflowing headdresses combining elements of Pop Art and Surrealism with a touch of humour, optimism, and inspiration in every piece.
Each of Maria’s muses has their own unique personality. So let’s learn a little more about them…
Starring the Swedish actress Anita Ekberg, famed for her portrayal of Sylvia in Federico Fellini’s 1961 La Dolce Vita, ‘Lolita’ is a celebration of living life to the full or enjoying ‘the sweet life’ as Fellini’s film title has it. A neckline of white bird feathers and closed, Victorian watch fobs signals the halting of time: a chance to stop and smell the roses that adorn Ekberg’s exotic headdress. Motifs of travel, a glimpse of sun and sand, and the promise of dance and desire, mingle in this escapist fantasy, where life is sweet and winged possibilities are hiding around every corner.
Starring Sophia Loren - Italian bombshell of Golden Age Hollywood, ‘Bonbon’ is a celebration of female power and capability. A diamond dust encrusted dress is set against a necklace of colourful bugs, finished with a Rhino Beetle centrepiece. Proportionally the strongest animal on the planet, the deceptive little Rhino Beetle can lift up to 850 times its own weight - a beautiful allegory for the strength of womanhood, which Rivans carries into Loren’s exotic headdress, adorned with winking bunnies who defy the conventions of 1950s housewifery, and fast cars to remind the viewer that girls enjoy ‘boys’ toys too.
Rivans even inserts a little of herself into the print, signaling her own Italian heritage in the figure of Loren and her British upbringing in the traditional teapot. A gorgeous melding of imagery and identity, gender and genealogy, Bonbon captures the spirit of feisty femininity with treasure-trove appeal.
Starring Jean Simmons - British starlet of 1950s fame - as ‘Joy’, an exuberant and sunny character, Rivans’s print has the heady buzz of Spring about it. Filled with the joys of life, Joy sparkles in her feathered, off-the-shoulder collar and signature exotic headdress, which brims with fantastical fragments.
A lover of nature and music, travelling and the simple pleasures of life, Joy wears her passions on her bounteous bonnet: vintage cars for speeding across countries; old-fashioned radios for tuning into meandering melodies; bumblebees signal her ecological activism; firecrackers for the vitality of life; the lull of the sea, sounding in the depths of pearly shells; and the soft wings of white birds for taking flight at the drop of a headdress.
Depicts Silver Screen siren Sigrid Gurie, her glittering green eyes and rouge lips picked out from the vintage greyscale photograph. Musing on relationships, Florence symbolises all of our very human connections: the pain as well as the joy, the wonder and the excitement, the romance, the turmoil, the love and hate, the climbing, the dancing, and the falling.
Look out for emotional symbols… dangling keys to represent the unlocking of the soul; a giant magnet earring simultaneously symbolises attraction and the toil of breaking-up; a tiny figure climbs a ladder of aspiration; while the US Capitol signifies the political relationships that colour all of our lives.
Named after the beautiful Italian city of Florence (the birthplace of Rivans’ grandmother), the print gently recalls the Renaissance - the Golden Age of figurative art and the wellspring of aesthetic beauty.
Depicts Austrian-American actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, her deep hazel eyes and dusky pink lips picked out from the vintage greyscale photograph. Symbolising the birth of life and the beginning of time, and inspired by Bosch’s ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’, Eve’s headdress evokes the Garden of Eden - this paradise we call Planet Earth - and the wondrous beauty contained by Mother Nature. Feathers and vintage watch fobs create an off-the-shoulder collar, symbolising time as human construct and our need to fly free from strictures. Journeying up through Eve’s headdress, Rivans represents the evolutionary timeline, moving from beasts to beings, to illustrate our intensely connective relationship with the natural world.
Depicts Hollywood stars James Dean and Jean Simmons, their profiles set side by side for a hint of the majestic. Decadent neckpieces are fashioned from a bricolage of feathers and flowers, while the regal pair sport Rivans’s signature headdresses like exotic crowns, each overflowing with flora and fauna and saturated with the technicolour tones of 1950s cinema. The piece is an evocative musing on our relationships, not only with lovers and friends, with fellow humans and with the world, but also with ourselves.
Kicking against gender stereotypes, Rivans reminds us that we are all a delicate balance of masculinity and femininity: Mae West appears, nestled amongst the foliage wearing her famously gender defying man suit, while the bridge of children that connects the headpieces, both draws together the gendered pair and represents the tug-of-war that defines our sense of self. Bold, beautiful, and bursting with vitality, ’James Jean’ is a passionate celebration of our dreams, our differences, and our deepest desires.
With the iconic face of Jean Simmons, peering with cat-like intensity out of the print, her emerald coloured eyes shining as if about to pounce, this print takes Simmons’s sparkling eyes as its starting point. Building a fabulous headdress from feline fragments: a diamond kitty collar frames her neck, surrounded by bird feathers (the remnants of her last meal, perhaps?) while, in amongst the tumbling greenery, striped kittens play, Catwoman slinks in the undergrowth, Earth Kitt - magisterially cat-like - prowls amongst the flowers, and super-sized Twinkle, from the Goodies, ’Kitten Kong’, rampages through the streets of London.
Even the print’s title, ‘Persia’, is a play on the sultry purr of a cat! Yet the print is about more than just the connection between the feline and the feminine: the piece asks us to think about our long lost animal instincts and pack-like reliance on community, brought about by city life, where politics places so much importance on the individual, and governments toy with our lives, just like the little kitten in Simmons’ headdress, playing with the human on a branch.
NEW – Juno
Maria on her new print, Juno:
“This is ‘Juno’, one of my pin-up series, starring Elizabeth Taylor. Made with images exclusively from my book! The only tiny tweaks I have made to the existing imagery, are to the shell pendant on Juno’s necklace, which I digitally decreased in size; the green planet, hanging in space, which I reduced simply by cutting into the circumference; and the gems on her necklace and collar rim, which I created by snipping larger gem images into smaller shards. In other words, these are the kinds of changes you can make, too, so have fun playing around with the elements in the book, and don’t feel that you have to use them exactly as they are.
I chose the title ‘Juno’ for this piece because it names the Queen of Goddesses, evoking the ideas of vitality, energy and eternal youthfulness that the final collage captures in all of its colourful motifs, from the blossoming flowers, to the frozen-in-time bloom of the young Elizabeth Taylor. I kept the process fairly loose, selecting images that harmonised with one another, but I also had some fun picking out pictures that might speak to wider themes of the collage: a howling wolf, whistling at the beautiful Juno, or the use of bird feathers, evoking ancient Egyptian iconography, in a nod to Taylor’s most fabulous movie role, Cleopatra.”
EXCLUSIVE TO ENTER GALLERY :
Maria Juno Mini + Book bundle – SOLD OUT
Meet Maria at our signing – Sign up at eventbrite
See inside Maria’s studio in our behind the scenes interview.
For a limited time only you can receive a FREE copy of Maria's new book Extraordinary Things to Cut Out and Collage with every purchase of a standard size Maria Rivans print.