“You have to meet Emili,” a pair of up-cycling fanatics told us. “He’s a carpenter who makes these intricate sculptures out of tiny wooden blocks. He likes to meet new people, and if you have a project in mind he’ll teach you the skills you need to help you make it.” Emili sounded like a nice man, but I wasn’t sure how well he fitted the brief for Héroes Anónimos. “Oh,” they added, “and he’s more or less blind.”

Though you might not notice it at first (he’ll tell you that he can see you, but he couldn’t describe the details of your face), clues of Emili’s failing sight are scattered all around his tiny Poble Sec workshop—particularly glaring are all of the huge magnifying glasses that are rigged up eccentrically above each piece of machinery.

We were fascinated by Emili from the start. Yes it was quirky that somebody would continue this type of work despite such eyesight deterioration that they can no longer read the books they were once an avid collector of, so far gone that they can no longer see the Sagrada Familia from their city-scape terrace. More than that, though, Emili’s work is eccentric and incredible. Not incredible for someone who can’t see well, just incredible. And perhaps that’s what surprised us most about him – Emili doesn’t really consider his sight loss a factor in his ability, and it doesn’t feature heavily in his philosophies of life. Generous with his time, know-how and homemade limoncello, Emili shares anything he’s able to whether he can see it or not.

Text by INto INdustry Programme Co-director, Leanne Hayman.