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How Pampa rugs weave cultures and communities together

Meet Victoria Aguirre and Carl Wilson of Pampa. They’re two travellers and photographers committed to weaving cultures and communities together with a range of rugs inspired by indigenous Argentinian artisans and their natural landscape. Rebecca Gross reports.

From the Argentinian lowland to the Byron Bay hinterland, Pampa crosses land, ocean, and communities—just like its founders Victoria Aguirre and Carl Wilson, Argentinian and Australian respectively. Working side by side both with each other and indigenous communities in Argentina, Victoria and Carl design and import handwoven rugs, cushions and throws, and sell fine art photography prints. “Our products express a deep respect for nature’s ways and for the indigenous communities we work with,” the couple explains.

They met in 2012 in Chile’s Atacama Desert in what Victoria describes, as “a bit of destiny, for sure.” Working as a photojournalist she was covering a special feature on Argentinian surfers exploring the Pacific Coast; Carl happened to be a friend of the surfers. After a month in the desert, they decided to move to Australia to give their relationship a chance. And certainly that risk, curiosity, and commitment not only underlies their relationship but also their business partnership, Pampa. “I knew I needed to start something that connected my strong Latin culture with Carl’s culture to be happy here,” Victoria says. “Carl left his full-time job to take a risk with me.”

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The name Pampa refers to and means ‘plains,’ as in the flat, fertile lowlands of South America. It is where Victoria grew up and the couple takes great pride in the name. “It reflects our products. Raw, natural and sustainable, and influenced by the landscape and hands they come from.” So with cameras in hand, Carl and Victoria explore the hidden indigenous communities of Argentina, learning about their culture and the ancient—and endangered—art of weaving. “We knock on their doors, have a meal with them, and play with their kids and goats. They are proud of their own traditions. They live simply and wisely.”

Pampa rugs are 100 per cent handmade from raw sheep and llama wool with natural and native dyes (and occasionally synthetic dyes for more intensity). “The process of creating a rug can be traced back to those who care and protect the livestock,” Victoria explains. “Each artist safeguards their own livestock. Those who lack a particular material have to buy wool from the others. Most of the weavers work in cooperative groups, sharing resources and ideas, and they weave each piece on looms in the backyard of their home.”

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Each rug is a one-off; its character derived from different weaving techniques, thread thicknesses, and the Argentinian landscape it originates from; and the patterns and designs are passed down through generations, drawing on nature’s textures and colours. And like Victoria and Carl, the rugs are inspired by the artisans themselves. “They all have a big heart,” the couple says. “We believe nature provides to the ones who listen… These rugs come from such a natural process we believe they have some of nature’s magic.”

Pampa
pampa.com.au

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