"I want to share Peru's beauty so that it is never forgotten. For me, this art is a way of sharing what I left in Ayacucho, the lovely land where I was born…."
"This is a medium of expression for me to show the world how beautiful nature is, especially in the Peruvian Andes. I know it so well – my roots are there, and my work depicts our traditions, customs and landscapes.
"I'm Balvina Huaytalla Paquiyauri and I was born in Ayacucho on February 5, 1979. I lived in the sierra until I was four. During the time of terrorism, my parents and brothers had to escape. We left our animals, farms and houses, and fled to Lima but we had nowhere to live. We settled on a mountainside in order to get ahead.
"I learned my art at an ONG workshop in Pamplona Alta. I wasn't able to study past fifth semester of middle school, so I thank God for this workshop. They made beautiful things in arpillería, a traditional Andean appliqué art. I found a special satisfaction learning more to be able to help out at home. I remember I began making cards, belts and wall hangings, all in arpillería. As time went by, my work got better as I worked harder on the final details of each piece. I really enjoy fabric art, putting the pieces together. The landscapes are incomparable.
"The first time I made an oven mitt, it was enormous – large enough for Manolo, the tallest man in Peru who measures seven feet nine inches. A friend told me I should make the gloves small enough to fit her, and so I learned each part of this art. I want to show a style of my own.
"I want to share Peru's beauty so that it is never forgotten. For me, this art is a way of sharing what I left in Ayacucho, the lovely land where I was born, where I ran and played in the fresh air. I wish so much we could have stayed.
"My greatest challenge has been to make a good life for my son, the struggle to raise him by myself.
"I hope you like my work. I create each piece with great love."