Environment, tradition and innovative design for the art of weaving

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Past, tradition, innovation. "Our lives are intertwined like the wicker of a basket", wrote Joyce Lussu, who kept the baskets and the straw bag in her family home, the wicker rocking chair and all the furnishings that brought her, a woman in struggle against the established and authoritarian power, back into the tradition, which was by birth above all of her husband. But Joyce Lussu, interviewed in 1994 by Marco Bellocchio, warned against the "mortal boredom of always taking the same walk in the past". In reality, she referred to the risk of resting on the laurels of the Resistance, but the nod can be valid for many things because the past is celebrated only by valuing and innovating what good has brought. The purpose of not forgetting the art of weaving, handed down over the centuries by the women of Sardinia, is not a pilgrim project. Many centres have in fact in common this ancient tradition: women have been able to teach the secrets of weaving to their daughters and grandchildren, creating different materials, mixing coloured inserts, extraordinary designs and traditional motifs. But because it survives, and indeed thrives by transforming itself into a small source of sustainable income, the art of weaving must be open to innovation and to the stimuli of a society that has transformed itself.

"Women Weaving for Wetlands in San Vero Milis. In San Vero, the challenge of modernity has been taken up. The stages for the initiative to truly embody the traditions of the country have been fixed: the processing is entrusted - as in the past - to the expert hands of craftswomen, the materials are those of always - rush, wheat straw, pond grasses, straw - collected in the wetlands surrounding San Vero Milis. Respect for the environment is therefore the keystone of the project, promoted by the MEDSEA Foundation, in one of the most famous centres in Sardinia for its woven products. Thanks to the prestigious collaboration with the Luma Foundation, which supports initiatives and artistic projects that meet the criteria of sustainability and environmental protection, MEDSEA has launched "Women weaving for Wetlands": an action aimed at training in five years people interested in the art of weaving and to promote the establishment of a cooperative, already called "Is Fainas", to facilitate access to markets. That's not enough. In fact, it is necessary to focus on innovative design so as not to lose the game at the start. And, for this reason, the Luma Foundation takes the field.

The Luma Foundation with the artisans. The cameraman, Vistor Picon, carefully follows the hands of the women who work the rush. Henriette Waal, director of the Atelier Luma based in Arles, and designer Ines Bressand, with the help of a translator, have their materials and working methods explained to them. The MEDSEA team and the local administrators of San Vero will guide them through their visits to the artisans - in their homes and in some of the rooms made available by the Municipality. The initiative, which MEDSEA is developing together with Luma, is part of the wider context of the Maristanis project for the protection and sustainable development of wetlands, expressed in its possible artistic expressions. The teamwork will lead to the creation of a prototype to be exhibited at the Triennale in Milan: it will be the first "experiment" of collaboration between the Sanverese craftswomen and an international designer.

The protagonists. Elisabetta and Giovanna work on twigs, baskets and corbels. Annarita, on the other hand, is an expert in the coating of bottles, while Gianni deals with more traditionally masculine weaving. They use marsh grass on the spiral-wrapped warp (made up of sexinis for the baskets and the more resistant reed for corbels and baskets). In the baskets, of different shapes depending on their intended use, drawings are made with the interweaving of coloured straw mainly in red, black, blue or green. Typical of San Vero Milis, finally, is the use of the weave to cover objects such as bottles, glasses and other containers. Now, with the indications of the Luma designers, we are working on new projects and the prototype for the Triennale so that one of the oldest forms of art is not lost forever.