Finding Peace in Feeling Small with Agnes Hansella

Self taught Indonesian artist Agnes Hansella (b. 1992 in Banjarmasin, Indonesia) is on a mission to make humans feel small, to raise awareness among us of how we are all connected to each other. Sometimes overwhelmed by the fast pace of today’s digital world, the technique of Macramé has helped the artist to remember to breathe and to immerse herself in things she can control.

In her interview with Suboart Magazine, Agnes shares with us how Macramé found her in 2017, her most recent pieces and works in process, and why as humans, we might as well be just another virus trying to survive in this vast universe.

By Nina Seidel

Corona, 2023
Macrame, 60 x 60cm


Hello Agnes, it’s a pleasure to be able to speak with you about yourself and your work. While I was preparing for the interview, I read that you studied audio production and sound design and that in 2017 you shifted your interest to macramé. I wanted to go back in time and find out how that happened- when and how did your interest in macramé arise for the first time and how did it evolve from there?  

I learnt macramé in 2017 by accident. My mother has a problem with her joints in the thumb area, so she remembered wanting to learn macramé to exercise her fingers. Macramé is something that she wanted to learn from a long time she said. Back in the 70s, macramé was famous for the bags and belts creation, and the material used was polyester rope. My mother didn’t get to learn the technique back at that time, because I guess people were and are still keeping techniques or skills for themselves.

This technique was back into trend around 2016 here in Indonesia, and the new thing was how the material has changed into cotton with bigger diameter. So, I looked around to find the cotton rope for her, and gave it to her. She looked like she’s having fun, so I decided to make one too. I was tired from digital work in the studio at that time, making macramé and touching the materials, feeling different textures gave my hearing sense a break. From there I learnt from websites, pictures on google, Instagram- anything I could find.

I was tired from digital work in the studio at that time, and making macramé, touching the materials & feeling different textures, gave me a break.

Something in the Air, 2023
Macrame, 200 x 190 cm

Regarding your work, you write that you “have a mission to make human look or feel small. Being small reminds me that we are a part of an ecosystem, that everyone has the same rights, opportunities, and responsibilities.” Could you please talk more about that?

For me, being immerse in the thought of feeling small gives me a peace of mind. The world we’re living in is too unpredictable, it brings anxiety to me on a daily basis, especially in 2020 when we encountered Covid19 and other viruses. Being small make me let go of things I can’t control. It defies my standard of achievement for myself, it makes me unafraid of making mistakes, it makes me grateful to be alive and feel alive.

When I realize there are things I can’t control, my mind will focus on things I can control, and the simplest thing I can control is my own thought.

Navicula, 2023
Macrame, 60 x 150 cm

You also mentioned that the digital world these days makes you feel that things are moving too fast and that you often find yourself lost in getting too much information. How has macramé helped you with that?

Macramé ties me to my current place and time. I can see results after spending some time with the ropes. It’s a proof of my existence in the present time that I’m in. By creating something I feel I’m evolving as a person, and I that I’m not stagnant in a place.

Is there a special piece or series of work that you’d like to talk about more in detail?

It’s the frame series from my recent exhibition. The works are titled: Rise Above, First of the Gang, and Something in the Air. These three are me, exploring the world of virus and microorganisms through macramé technique. It showcases my feelings during the pandemic times through virus-like object made with ropes. Rise above is about virus creeping until out of frame, but the title can be defined as “to not let anything unpleasant influence your behaviour (to be drowned in unnecessary thought) and to be or become better than (something).

First of the gang is about a virus who got separated from its colony. It can be interpreted into two ways; first the lonely virus is the first to penetrate the host, and therefore is the first survival from it’s colony. Second, it just got left behind and is all alone. Something in the air pictures a room with door in the centre. From that door comes out viruses, filling the whole place until it got out to our world.

First of the Gang, 2023
Macrame, 155 x 175cm
Rise Above, 2023
Macrame, 115 x 210cm

A practical questions now, would you mind sharing some of your creative process with me, from the starting point to the finished piece?

So, the plan is usually more like a goal of what I want to test out with the technique, and the ‘look’ is just simple sketch, sort of an outline. The rest is determined by the rope and my instinct at that particular moment when I’m knotting. What I like about macramé is the way I can fix and add things to an existing piece. It’s that surprise element coming from the material that makes it exciting. I always hypnotize myself that its okay to make mistakes and keep going to fix them.

Corona, 2023
Macrame, 60 x 60cm

On your website you wrote, “In a way, I also see human as a virus trying to survive in this vast universe.” I find that a very interesting statement- could you please comment on it?

In the face of nature, there is no politics, social rules, and stuff like that. For me its my understanding of why others do the things they do, and it opens up my perspective on their point of view. I think people need to realize our biggest threat right now is the global warming and we need to work together as the smartest species to save ourselves.

In the face of nature, there is no politics, social rules, and stuff like that.

Macrame, 32 x 50 cm

Any current or upcoming project or event that you’d like to share?

I’m currently working on a commission work for Ford Foundation event in Jakarta, Indonesia, it’s an interactive installation that measures 6m wide and 1.8m tall. The work is about connection, of how people are connected to each other. I am playing with lots of colours and different kind of materials like cables and wools and chenille yarn. This will be my most colourful piece and I’m quite nervous about it.

Any advice that you’d like to share with fellow emerging artists, especially those just starting out?

I believe that ideas are an accumulation of experience from a certain event or from meeting a certain person. Instead of coming from the artist itself, it comes from around.  If I’m stuck to find ideas I usually go to random events, watch or read random topics. It doesn’t have to be something big like going on a trip, it can be small too, like doing random kindness in the street.

Sunset, 2020
Macrame, 1150 x 500cm

Is there any emerging artist you’d like to recommend?

I recommend Anung Asasongko.

And last question, what are your hopes for the future?

I hope I can create art that affect people’s feeling.


Get in touch
with Agnes:
Instagram: agneshansella

All Photographs courtesy of
Agnes Hansella

Written & edited by
Agnes Hansella and Nina Seidel

© Copyright 2023 Suboart Magazine
All rights reserved

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