What ?
Sea Silk
Where ?
Chiara Vigo

Chiara Vigo :
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.
Meanwhile  has achieved some of the state school diplomas could be used to undertake any modern use, but that's not what  to herinterests.

Indeed 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 empty containers.

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.

Gold from under the seaFascinated 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 was unattainable.

The Pinna nobilis,
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 administration.
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 permits.

To collect the threads of sea-silk
Loomproduced 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

Clean tuft of sea-silkAt 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 yet.

Working on the loom"Each 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.


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