Born in 1955 on the northern coast of
Sant'Antioco island in the tiny sea-port of Calasetta, she was a grand-daughter
of Leonilde Mereu, the last sea-silk Master to keep on the teaching
of her art. As a child, Chiara used to spend days with the old lady who
passed on to her the basics of her own spirituality together with much
of her knowledge. But these were only pre-formative years.
At the age of 20, Chiara knew nearly enough and, also, she had
developed much creative capacity so that her grandmother decided to teach
the young lady all that she had mastered.
Chiara, Meanwhile has
achieved some of the state school diplomas could be used to undertake any
modern use, but that's not what to herinterests.
begins to suffer for that aberration of
the new living socio-institutional and erases the masters as a living reservoir
of values, see more and more ancient arts relegated to mere museum showcases, in
Chiara meets the sea silk soon
discovered that the passion, patience, hard work, meticulous attention to
detail, are the instruments of its unveiling.
faces the of sea silks soon discovered that the passion, patience, hard
work, meticulous attention to detail, are the instruments of its unveiling.
by the creative world
as much as by the spiritual values of her grandmother
Leonilde, Chiara carried on her arduous work. This was made infinitely
more difficult by the acceleration of human activities and subsequent
depletion of natural environments. She found that tidal consumerism had
neither use nor respect for the ancient skills : it severed the links
that once united community and nature, it promoted an ever shifting sense
of needs and hence created a cultural vacuum where, indeed, wholeness
discreet producer of an extraordinary material
with a saga that spans millenniums, was officially listed among the "endangered
species" and consequently protected by a directive from the European
Council in 1992, confirmed in 1997 by a presidential decree from the Italian
Today, Chiara Vigo remains the one and only person on Mediterranean
shores - and, most probably, on this planet - who knows exactly
how to produce, dye and weave the sea-cloth. By doing so she lends life
to a most ancient tradition, which would otherwise have disappeared.
As a lonely defender of sea-silk, she supports the idea that the disappearance
of her art would further the actual deficit of knowledge, skills and values
which once made humanity progress. Because she is a passionate person
and because, beyond rethoric, she remains true to the promise made years
ago to her grandmother, Chiara Vigo keeps the arts of sea-silk
alive and she will do so - in her own words - as long as life
collect the threads of sea-silk
by the Pinna nobilis without killing or even damaging the animal,
Chiara Vigo has developed -she says- an entirely new method. This took 7 years
of close-up studies of the giant shell and its environment : in every
season, she dived by night or day until she found that, in May, the mud-floor
where the Pinna anchors itself becomes soft enough for the whole
shell to be removed without damage. Then, its "beard" can be
trimmed and the shell be re-planted upright as it was. This way the Pinna,
unaffected, keeps on living and its precious tuft keeps on growing.
Only, such "soft" technique is of little use when the environmental
requisites for the survival of the Pinna nobilis population are
at risk. Thus Chiara Vigo calls on local marine and environmental
authorities to demand effective control on the development of fish-farms,
on dumping of wastes and nocuous chemicals, on restriction of trawl-fishing.
the same time,
Chiara Vigo operates the art that was
passed on to her and then, presents to the public the resulting sea-silk
material. These pieces are unique and outstanding not only for the technical
ability of the maker but also, evidently, for her creativity.
By displaying her work, Chiara keeps up the fame of sea-silk :
she is often called for international exhibits and congresses, reporters
from notorious magazines or TV networks visit her home and workshop, and
thus the whole world can appreciate that the saga of sea-silk is not over
one of us was weaved
with the same precious material provided by
the sea, each one of us is part of truth larger than us, each
one of us is a diminutive but priceless work of art". When listening
to Chiara Vigo, visitors to her workshop might realise how important
it is to salvage the art of sea-silk, to help her project of opening a school
where children from Sant'Antioco - from Sardinia, from the planet hearth -
would find an opportunity to recover the authentic knowledge that once lived
in the handicraft master's workshops.
n d i a m o