A pattern with a length of 3 centimetres, borrowed from a traditional Berat sako (a long, embroidered coat), finely detailed with embroidery. An intricate bit of detailing borrowed from an article medieval attire, it’s made larger, and more visible, through the fine art of embroidery. This is Egla Memaj’s mode of expression, her art-form if you will. Young, yet talented, she is carving out a niche industry in Albanian embroidery through her unique and singular style.
Egla in her daily work, photo by IntoAlbania.
The love of embroidery founded itself in Egla early on, at the young age of 6 or 7. She recalls watching her mother and grandmother perform their needlework. The love and ability to create such art was passed down through generations in her family, eventually being inherited by Egla. From playfully embroidering her doll’s clothes as a child, she chose to pursue her passion at the University of Arts, where she naturally majored in fashion and textiles. It was during her studies that Egla realised her passion could become a fully-fledged profession.
“Certain pieces require that I work from morning to evening, for entire weeks, even months. You cannot do something like this unless you really love it,” she tells us. Her words are a testimony to the fact that this creative and meticulous profession, requires the kind of dedication that goes beyond merely fulfilling a task. It must extend to one’s entire life.
In the past, Egla has shared her work with the public through various exhibitions. Her focus is always on prolonging Albanian tradition, folklore, and ethnography. As a result, she is an avid visitor and curious observer of museums, artefacts, cities, places, and people. Anything and everything can serve as a source of inspiration.
Her materials of choice are cotton, linen, tapestry, and silk, and her favourite thread is gold. Juxtaposing the patterns highlighted in her embroidery with their original appearance in a specific piece or clothing item, you can understand that this broad wealth of elements could be easily overlooked, if it weren’t for Egla’s keen eye.
Egla’s atelier is a warm and welcoming space for all who enter, and a fascinating spot for those who would like a more in-depth look at her work and traditional Albanian attire. She accepts commissions but always keeps in mind the time and dedication required for each of them. One thing is for certain, whether you are looking to immerse yourself in a world of the medieval and traditional or contemporary and modern, a stop at Egla’s atelier is a must.
Address: St. “3 dëshmorët” (“3 martyrs”), Yzberisht, Tiranë. You can contact Egla via her e-mail at [email protected]