On a cliffside road just outside Nule’s historic center sits a modern home with a small weaving studio where Giovanna Maria Campus spins, dyes, and weaves the traditional rugs and textiles of Nule.
Giovanna’s work has been featured in exhibits across the island and beyond, including the 2017 San Francisco show. Giovanna is a master of tinting wool with traditional vegetable dyes, and in addition to showing her textiles, she often presents color tinting exhibitions to visitors and locals.
Rooted in Nule tradition, Giovanna grew up weaving and learning the attendant skills, including carding, spinning, and tinting. As do many masters of the art of weaving, Giovanna sees beyond the fibers and techniques of creating a textile: She talked with me of the designs, the colors, and somewhat of the meanings of traditional Nule weaving. Each motif and color has a symbolic association with an element in nature, a spiritual figure or concept, or a particular role or aspect of life. The designs are inherent to and transmitted within the circle of the tessitrici artigianali of Nule, as are the traditional colors and knowledge of their preparation.
Giovanna also talks of how designs, meaning, and especially colors and the plants from which the tints come are highly specific to a location. For instance, plants grown in the nearby town of Bitti produce slightly different shades of color than the same plants grown in Nule; usually only the color experts and the tessitrici artigianali can discern this.
While some might seek a catalog of Nule’s textile motifs and colors (and some explanations have been published), I sense that the deeper meanings and power of many of the designs are not to be transmitted in words, put into print, or given to those who seek only superficial knowledge. This is true in many traditions across the world: The deeper meaning of what is infused into art, craft, and ceremony is not always shown publicly or conveyed in words outside the community.
In all handwoven textiles, the anima and the essence are tangible. This is certainly true of Giovanna’s textiles, which are potent as well as beautiful. I sense, both from being with the textiles and from talking with Giovanna, that beyond her technical skill and her respect for the designs and colors of Nule, she is fully aware of the spirt of a textile, and that she consciously uses design, color, and intent to impart power, essence, and anima into her weavings.
See these pages for more information:
Studio: via San Paolo 28, Nule (SS) 07010 Sardegna Italia
Contact Giovanna via her daughter, Sara Campus Manca, at +39 349 878 2619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note from Kelly
While I spent several hours one afternoon with Giovanna — who warmly welcomed me even though I arrived on her doorstep with no advance notice during an unannounced visit to Nule on a impromptu short trip only weeks before the 2017 exhibit — and I have seen her present at street fairs, I have not yet talked with Giovanna as much as I would like, or taken many photos or much video of her work*. For these reasons, I had not previously published a page about Giovanna, and have only a short page here.
I outlined this page more than a year ago, with plans to finish and publish it after visiting Nule in 2020 — but of course travel was not possible. When our global ability to travel resumes, I envision spending more time with Giovanna and other weavers in Nule. I’ll then expand this page and Nule’s presence on this website. I also sense that the next film I curate will be (should they like) about Nule’s tessitrici artigianali, carrying forth their story and their messages.
*When I first meet someone, I don’t like to take photos/video or ask too many questions. I also prefer not to travel with a camera always in hand, or with an agenda. I like to meet and get a feel for a person, a place, a situation, to learn a person’s story, a place’s history, to build rapport. This takes time. If and when I do pull out a camera, I want all of us to feel comfortable and understand that I consider myself only the conduit, the tramite, for the message that unfolds itself. This is especially true as a straniera traveling (yet feeling very much at home) in Sardinia. ~ Kelly