Sunday, May 28, 2017

Maria Furlan Bellis- a Living Treasure Alert!

This story started about 4 years ago when I was standing in the office of Cuci Service in Oderzo. I noticed some, what appeared to be free motion embroidered framed images. I asked who had made them  and so begins a story of one of Italia's living treasures. Denise Feltrin told me the free motion embroideries had been made by a 90 year old lady who lived in Oderzo, and that she had made many more such embroideries. She offered to take me to see Maria ( the ladies name). Maria was rung to make sure it was ok and next thing I was whisked off with Denise's sister Doris to visit Maria . What happened next just left me  stuck for words. I took photos at the time but I think I was so amazed by what I encountered I did not set my  camera correctly and only a few photos were good enough to share.

So when I knew that I was going to Italy this time and that I would be close to Oderzo I contacted Cuci Service to see if I could meet with Maria again. I also contacted Alex Veronelli  CBDO from Aurifil threads to see if  they would be willing to donate some threads for Maria's work.

So what can I say??? this is the  amazing story of  a lady who took up free motion embroidery on a treadle machine at the age of 80!!!!! She had painted prior to that and had  once a long time ago made a self portrait in thread.

She was a teacher and has very fine sewing skills. When I asked her why she commenced making free motion embroideries at age 80- she said she woke up one morning and knew that was what she had to do. She has made more than a 1000 embroideries and  the Feltrin sisters from Cuci Service were the first to convince her to exhibit her work. She does not sell her work, so many of her works adorn the walls of her house. Walking into her house is like walking into a cave of wonderment ( well for an textile nut anyway) She has made copies of many of the great masters ( even improving some of them) but has also made embroideries of some of her own paintings which are beautiful.

She works on a treadle machine ( unbelievable that she has made so many embroideries on this machine) with a bare needle and an embroidery hoop. She uses a zig zag stitch to build  up layers of colour in thread. She uses any old thread ( which is why I asked  Aurifil to donate some threads) which she sources wherever she can. Maria is now 96 years old, passionate about her  art and passionate about what she makes, passionate about music and art,still grows her own vegetables in  her vegetable garden and is seeking a renewal of her drivers licence- as the french say "formidable"! When I visited this time she was preparing for an exhibition of embroideries she had made inspired by a popular calendar in Italy.

I will share many photos I took with full permission from Maria . I took photos of the walls of her house covered in her works ( all are framed so there was some light glare form the glass covering the embroideries), some of her great masters works, and some of her own which can be identified because she signs  embroideries made from her own work.

 The first three photos of Maria are in her studio

The photos cannot do justice to the effect of walking into Maria's  house and seeing the walls laden with her beautiful embroideries- speechless is one way of putting it. And this is just a small selection of what she had on display.

The following photos are some closer shots where the lighting would allow- the glare of the glass  frames sometimes interfered with photographing.

Klimt's Three Ages of Woman received Maria's own interpretation she left off the old woman because she did  not like her.

I feel humbled and honoured to have been able to give Maria some Aurifil threads and to be able to visit her house and look at her work , which she so graciously allowed me to share. It was an extraordinary experience-0 and I hope  the Italian art world or certainly the Italian textile world makes her a living treasure!  And last  Maria explaining some of her work- full of passion and insights, on art and life.


Marianne said...

Un grand merci pour cette adorable et délicieuse dame et son travail. Une jolie découverte

Yvonne Wright said...

How inspiring, hope for all us old folk! Never too late to try something new.

Helen from Hobart said...

Formidable indeed. She is a Living Treasure, and an inspiration to us all.

Anonymous said...

What great work and what a lovely lady .

Margaret said...


Shammickite said...

What an amazing lady! Her work is beautiful and I can hardly believe she does all this stunning work on a old style treadle machine. Brava!

Dentellebleue said...

Merci Dijanne pour le partage sur ce que tu as vécu d'extraordinaire auprès de cette vieille dame, formidable brodeuse, un trésor vivant comme tu le dis si bien!
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