The Alhambra is an ancient palace and fortress complex in Munira Mendonça’s hometown of Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It is one of the country’s major tourist attractions, exhibiting some of the most significant and well-known Islamic architecture in the world. Munira’s Salón de los Embajadores was inspired by a repetitive panel from the Hall of Ambassadors in the Alhambra Palace.
Munira used the finest Spanish vegetable-tanned leather when creating this piece. She first drew the intricate, symmetrical design on the leather. After casing the leather, she cut the design with a swivel knife and then spent hours tooling it. Tooling is what she loves the most about a project. Lately, Munira has been experimenting with different types of dyes. The Salón de los Embajadores is embellished with both alcohol-based and acrylic dyes and paints. The detailed leather masterpiece took a few weeks to complete.
Munira Mendonça began working with leather in 1977 in Bubión, Spain. She spent four years learning leathercraft while working in the small village in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Granada. When she left, she took with her a sound knowledge of the craft, as well as a passion and desire to learn more. Since then, her first love has always been the art of leather tooling.
In 1996, Munira re-established her workshop in the lovely old city of Granada, where Moorish art, crowned by the Alhambra, pervades and acts as a heavy influence in her work. That same year, she met Diego Campos Mariscal, one of Granada’s last “leather carvers,” and she began studying the ancient traditional craft of tooled and carved leather under his guidance. Munira is both proud of and profoundly grateful for his teaching and collaboration.
Over the years, the workshop has become a family business, which designs and hand crafts its unique range of leather articles. Her study of ancient designs and calligraphies and the use of traditional tools situate her items well within the leather tradition of Spain; a rich, but dying tradition that spans many hundreds of years.
Munira now has a shop in the heart of the city center where she promotes local crafts and gives daily demonstrations. The establishment also provides the space for demonstrations from different local craftspeople. Her goal is to keep the tradition of leather carving alive in the city of Granada.
With consistency and perseverance she is renowned worldwide, with many of her articles in private collections, mosques, government buildings, restaurants, etc.
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