A room of one’s own

invitation to the exhibition

exhibition during MJW (Munich Jewellery Week 2019)

A room for eight women (seven plus one)

A group of women, seven to be precise – Catalina, Estela, Federica, Flora, Judy, Jimena, Lilian – who work in the field of contemporary jewelry, albeit with very different formal and conceptual choices. Who wanted to share an experience.

Something different from a simple collective exhibition, where at the most one relates individually to the same theme. What they wanted was to deal with the questions posed by Virginia Wolf in the essay A room of ones own, which, in their sumptuous simplicity, still pose questions, as lucid as ever to women in search of their own artistic identity. And – fundamental – they wanted to try to do it together.

To realize this ambition, they asked for the collaboration of another woman, Doris, who, after many years as artist and teacher of contemporary jewellery retains creative freedom  moving in variuos artistic directions. A professional and emotional proximity but also a certain distance. An external personality who, thanks to her experience and knowledge of each individual sensibility, was at the same time, with some of her creations, a connection between the parts, a director of space, a curator in the strictest sense of the term.

And this was the way to create a dialogue and amalgamate: to highlight the pieces presented by each of the seven artits through materials – artistic or everyday – which at the same time contained their overall coherence, aesthetics and meaning. Individuality and the collective, how to make them live together: the mother of all utopias, one might say. And yet it was possible, with intelligence and specific attention to what was important to each of them.

That the most recurring elements of the installation were women (small sculptures of women in porcelain) and mirrors has nothing casual.

Women folded in themselves, dreamy, stunned, dialoguing: a small extract of those infinite possibilities, of that vital chaos that makes our mind a vast space of contradictory thoughts, as Virginia highlights in her book To the Lighthouse.

And mirrors: the objects that par excellence give us the opportunity, if we have the will, to put ourselves in front of our own image, in front of the other, in front of change, or the Soul of the World, as some would say. The encounter was therefore between differences that were not avoided but rather enriched, while remaining distinct.

What then is true collaboration. The best form of being together. Who knows, maybe it is from here that we must start again, from even small experiences that, as Richard Sennett says, help and invite everyone to re-learn the ability of collaboration to “repair” our society, as a craftsman does with a damaged tool: useful in the past and potentially even more useful once repaired. For this reason, we can say that the challenge was mastered beyond expectations.

Life stands still here is Virginia’s phrase that makes the sense of how the installation was perceived, by those who exhibited and by those who were “guests” rather than visitors. An exposure of vulnerability and strength. Of reassuring intimacy and courage in telling oneself, humanly (there were signs) and artistically.

An exhibition that was unveiled to those who knew how to read it and give it the time to narrate itself, to those who accepted the invitation to establish contact, to really stay in the room and to live paths and references. An exhibition that maybe has left, more than the precise memory of every single detail, that of a long, surprising emotion. To recall an emotion is the way to remember Poetry, says Edmund de Waal, ceramist and writer, in a recent exhibition.

If it is true, using once again a concept often expressed by Virginia, that all human experiences are fluid, in the process of becoming, then it would be nice to be able to think that also this experience was just one stop in a longer journey.

That deserves to continue. In working together.

jewellery by : Catalina Gibbert, Judy Mc Caigh, Lilian Mattuschka, Federica Sala, Jimena Rios, Flora Vagi, Estela Saez

drawings and sculpture: Doris Maninger

text: Maurizio Alampi

photos: Lilian Mattuschka






















breakfast with the artist

a studio visit in Piazza St. Spirito 16

On the 23rd. of September I opened my studio for a visit with breakfast, a very nice idea, part of a three day festival “l’eredità delle donne” focused  on female artists

entrance of Piazza St.Spirito 16

It had been a lot of work to clean and set up the studio for this visit, but as always very good for me to arrange my work, see it from different angles, review all the hidden spots of this beautiful place where I have been working for so many years.

entrance and drawing table with note books 

Three rooms to set up, with quite a number of different work, but with the precious help of my friend and assistant Lilian Mattuschka   I made it and was really happy about it all. It was a bit like seeing my own work from afar as a visitor to my own studio. 

Lots of old things to discover anew, a fresh look, some wonder about how pieces from different periods can dialogue with each other.

entrance dialogue between found piece of metal, black lady and drawing

and a much clearer view on what my work is really about. It is about the sensation of time, the time that is spent by working on it, the time that is intrinsic in most of the materials I use, enhanced by the glances of my ladies. Their presence, their size which is a kind of measure for the rest.

Lili’s Austria, a collaboration with Lilian Mattuschka

Il salotto, the main exhibition room

the start of new work: fragments of wanderings ‘the column’
detail of the column

Austrian landscape detail

unexpected angle

the ladies room

white lady
the study with parts of ‘Bellaperforza’ and my most recent embroidery, part of  fragments of wandering
the sewing table in the thinking room

the workshop
and at the end ‘The breakfast’

Bella per Forza 30×60

a very special art project

The idea of ​​Bella per Forza 30×60 was born in Zagarise, in 2016, on the occasion of the second edition of the Giardini delle Esperidi Festival, an event that combines the revitalisation of the Southern Italian mountains and its villages with the value attributed to culture and perspectives in art (poetry, literature, music, figurative, performative arts) as tools to comprehend the intrinsic reality of the area and its cultural identity.

The basic idea of ​​Bella per Forza, involves the use of “elementary” materials – the cotton fabric of Prato (Tuscany), the potato of the Sila area (Calabria), two iconic products of the respective realities. The materials immediately bring to mind, an exchange between different communities, locations and people who want to dialogue and who as they have already done symbolically, will constitute the stages of departure and arrival of the imagined path of Bella per Forza.


In detail, Bella per Forza – as a physical “object” of participated art, installation and performance – has developed around the following idea:

1) decorate single cotton patches of the size of 30 * 60 cm, in different occasions, by different people in complete freedom, using cut and engraved potatoes as stamps (a technique often used in creativity courses for children)

2) sew the decorated patches together by hand to obtain a bigger and bigger cloth;

3) “unroll” the cloth in particular occasions (with always different performative acts), the locations of the “unrolling” will be chosen and carried out by the members of the communities that have contributed to the decoration of the single patches;

4) use the cloth as an element which, through its symbolic and visual force, colours and temporarily transforms the space and its surroundings.

Therefore, a canvas-collage by definition in progress, which establishes connections, transforms and is continuously  transformed. 

Colours, drawings, motifs each with a strong “individual” specificity and which, added to each other, create a new formal and aesthetic entity, which changes scale and meaning.  A union that “produces” beauty and where each single contribution is at the same time irreplaceable (no one is the same as the other) and interchangeable. There are no leaders because all are leaders.

The work, as a practice of participatory art, aims to obtain that different communities, more or less stable (whole localities in particular events but also the guests of a retirement home for the elderly or groups of students), acquire awareness about the beauty that arises from collective work, where everyone is contributing in a process, in respect of just some very simple rules (size of the canvas, choice of colours, sewing mode).

The operation, along a path started in Calabria last July, showed how collective doing and the sense of communion brought about by a shared manual work with the essential seriousness in children’s games concretize what is often considered only a utopia: produce beauty through a work done together without competition.

As expected, among other things, the collective work has become an object that, beyond the documentary path that is being realized, remains and can be used easily, in different ways and in different places, each time acquiring new form and new sense .

As an example: in Zagarise it has become a carpet spread on the steps of the splendid medieval Cathedral of the town, on which a theatrical performance took place, in Salerno it was the tapestry-showcase of the National Conference of clown-doctors held in the Hospital Civile della città, in Cannistrà (province of Messina), has colored the streets of the village where a project of urban regeneration is taking place.


The objectives that we believe have already been achieved (and which will be further extended) through “Bella per forza 30×60” have been:

-stimulate a choral and manual work that involved and put in dialogue people and collectives, “sets with variable composition”, even geographically distant;

-receiving / recalling the traditions of belonging (the use of fabrics, sewing, etc.) representing and ritualizing them in a simple and collective work;

– make visible the need for a link between people and between them and the urban scenarios, places, houses, that is all that constitutes the identity of each community, declining it not only to the past but also to the present and the future, as an ever-changing entity.

Ultimately a work that, in a time that has largely lost the sense of being together and solidarity (internal, as well as the other), indicates the usefulness of new paths, strategies aimed at recovering the profound reasons for living social, through the recognition (of beauty) of diversity.

 Organization and coordination

The “transit” of Bella per Forza in a place is basically organized,in three phases:

1) small, individual and  “itinerant” workshops at schools, associations, or within festivals and cultural events, where  all the materials necessary for the realization of single panels (precisely the size of 30 * 60 cm) are provided.  Each participant will decorate the panels in total creative freedom, using the potato as stamp.

2) assembly of the panels, into one drape, performance of sewing 

3) “Exposure”, opening of the drape and its use to highlight / reread significant locations

Bella per Forza is now more than 50m long and about 5m wide and more than 600 people of all ages have contributed to its creation.

An Artist Book

I have been invited to participate in an exhibition of artist books with the title doppio senso/ Dual meaning. We were asked to work with a book of our choice, a printed book and to with our intervention to amplify, enlarge or deconstruct the sense of the text it containes.


Thirst (Sete) di Jo Nesbo è il libro che ho scelto.

Per il modo che ho di lavorare, scegliere è in effetti un termine impreciso: le mie “scelte” sono sempre un misto di casualità e di deliberato intervento sul caso. Così è stato anche questa volta: all’invito di Simonetta mi sono guardata intorno e il libro di Nesbo, un autore che leggo quasi esclusivamente quando sono in viaggio, era lì, davanti a me. Pronto per essere “lavorato”.
In questo caso, il lavoro che ho subito immaginato era un doppio senso non come “senso sottostante” e “altro” ma come amplificazione del senso del libro.
Senza richiamare la trama del racconto, dirò solo che si tratta di un Nesbo, già di norma molto “gotico”, in piena deriva splatter, in cui ogni personaggio è portatore di una passione malata che contempla la morte come possibile via d’uscita.
Ecco, mi sono detta: farò un intervento col fuoco e con il filo. Col fuoco ho bruciato il libro in più parti, creando fori e lacerazioni , come le ossessioni portate alle loro estreme conseguenze lasciano nel racconto corpi feriti e anime devastate.
Col filo rosso il libro l’ho attraversato, “raddoppiandolo” come trama, pista di segni e, ovviamente, cucitura. Come fra i personaggi di Nesbo, che cercano inutilmente di ricucire le proprie ferite facendo esplodere le pulsioni più indicibili, i miei fili “legano” le pagine senza un ordine o un esito prestabiliti. E qualsiasi soluzione non può essere che provvisoria.

THIRST (SETE) by Jo Nesbo is the book I have chosen.

For the way I work, “to choose” is in fact an inaccurate term: my “choices” are always a mixture of randomness and deliberate intervention on the case.

So it was also this time: at the invitation of Simonetta I looked around and Nesbo’s book, an author that I read almost exclusively when I’m traveling, was there, in front of me. Ready to be “worked”.

In this case, the work I immediately imagined was a double meaning not as “underlying sense” and “other” but as an amplification of the meaning of the book.

Without recalling the plot, I will only say that it is a Nesbo, usually very “gothic”, in full drift splatter; Manipulation, violence, sick sex and “extreme” mental deviations. All in the background of a rich and environment-friendly Norway but teeming with toxic, alcoholic, marginal of all kinds. An environment in which every character of the plot is the bearer of a passion that contemplates death as possible (and sometimes inevitable) way out.

So I decided for an intervention with fire and with thread. With the fire of my fusion torch I burned the book in several parts, creating holes and lesions, as the obsessions carried to their extreme consequences leave wounded bodies and devastated souls in the story. I crossed the book with the red thread, “doubling it” as a plot, a trail of signs and, of course, a seam. As among the characters of Nesbo, who try in vain to sew up their wounds exploding the most unspeakable drives, my threads “bind” the pages without a pre-established order or an outcome of some use (and here the thought would go to the ontological uselessness of art, but this would take us too far..). The mystery of events, of each event at the end, can never be completely solved, we may arrive at temporary solutions that refer to other mysteries.

The conclusion of any investigation, even of those that lead to the affirmation of some truth in THIRST, therefore refers to new obscurities.

To other “holes” of understanding. Like those who are now in the body of a book, this book, inside the pages and in its interstices.

It must be said that the detective investigating the cases in question is called Harry HOLE (..).

So really the choice was almost obligatory.