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NOVICA Artisan Hubert and Ana Claudia

Hubert and Ana Claudia

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Ana Claudia and Hubert met in Austria, where he was born. Ana Claudia's mother is a social worker and her father is an agronomy engineer while Hubert's mother is a homemaker and his father is a chef. Though they both come from different cultures and family backgrounds, they soon realized they have many things in common.

"Our initiation into the world of art is very similar," Ana Claudia says. "We both studied architecture. During holidays I used to craft kites, while Hubert designed and made a machine for picking berries for his mom. It was a good first try, but oddly enough, they didn't have any berries on the table that year!

"Then I started designing window displays for shoe shops, while Hubert got more into designing furniture. Now we set up our own workshop where there are 10 people working with us too: men, women, young and not so young. Though they come from different academic backgrounds, they are all very good at what they do, be it hardware, carpentry, or masonry.

"It is an uncanny coincidence that one of the most challenging times in each others' lives happened in 1976. There was a terrible earthquake here and we lived in tents and in the streets for several weeks. I was seven years old and I remember liking the food that UNICEF gave us.

"That same year there was an earthquake in Austria too, and Hubert was also a little boy. He says he remembers how everything was shaking but he thought it was giant moving his bed!

"When I was a little girl I used to go on trips throughout Guatemala with my parents and we loved the handicraft markets since we collected artesanias. It pains me to see that kind of work is hardly around anymore, that techniques are getting lost. That's why Hubert and I, along with other people, decided to dedicate our time to working with arts and crafts the old fashion way – with substance. We like to reinterpret the old and historic, update it, and give it new life.

"We prefer working with natural prime materials and if we do get to work with artificial materials, it's through recycling the inner tubes of tires, coffee sacks, soda cans or discarded pieces from our own work! We enjoy imagining things that didn't exist before and literally 'die in the details.'

"When we were still in Austria we won a scholarship for some architectural projects that we did, so we used that money to return to Guatemala.

"It's not been difficult at all to work together: I think Hubert is the boss of details, and he says I'm the boss of ideas."

"I also spend some of my time inventing machines that exist in other countries but not in Guatemala," says Hubert. "And to be able to do so, we can only use materials that are readily available in Guatemala – that's why my friends call me McGiver! They do think I’m a regular workaholic.

"We love working with different people regardless of schooling. All we care about is their creativity, that they know how to work in a team, and that they are not afraid to express their ideas. One time the guys here really expressed their artistic freedom as they created a machine that lifted weights and thus shaped muscles! They built it all on their own with cables, pulleys, weights and pieces of wood. When we saw it we laughed, and we were so proud to see how they had put into practice everything they had learned at the workshop."