Francesca Nicchi’s artistic work and research has always focused on the world of textiles. This has encouraged her interest in developing the theme of the feminine. An intrinsically creative, powerful, natural, soft, divine and everyday feminine.
Francesca Della Ventura (FDV): Francesca Nicchi’s artistic research can be placed in the sphere of textile art, a type of art once downgraded to “secondary art” and therefore practiced almost exclusively by women. The reintroduction of textiles and fibres into “high art” began with the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s with a revival that included artistic practices traditionally relegated to the lower status of “women’s work”. Francesca, what does textile art represent for you? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of practicing it? How does one become a textile artist?
Francesca Nicchi (FN): Making textile art gives me physical satisfaction. Contact with threads, with fabrics, satisfies a need for physical contact. The needle that goes in and comes out and that unites separate parts through the thread. I think this also has a beneficial meaning for me. Basically, it gives me pleasure and satisfaction. The merits of textile art have to do with the slowness, which imposes the patience to let one’s work grow, with the soft materiality, which often settles and warms without protest. The fact that textiles have been part of our lives since birth (a blanket or cloth is the first thing that envelops us as soon as we are born), automatically recalls a “protective knowledge” that can be reinvented and revised in a thousand new ways. Textile art has in itself the sense of construction and time and is painting and sculpture at the same time. I don’t know how you become a textile artist, I think simply by sewing and stitching. I learnt on my own, I sewed instinctively from a very young age. I remember how much I liked as a child the thread line forming on the fabric stitch by stitch. It excited me a bit more than the line the marker left on the paper. It’s as good a way as any to make art. At the Academy, during my studies, at some point I had the urge to pick up the threads and fabrics.
FDV. Have you also worked with other artistic mediums?
FN: I have worked and still work with other mediums. Sometimes it is important for me to do so. I work with painting techniques such as watercolour tempera and also rarely acrylic and oil. Pencil remains my favourite. It is always the first thing I pick up. Lately I have also approached the graphics tablet which is bringing me a different style that I am watching with curiosity (I don’t know where it will take me).
FDV: What is your source of inspiration?
FN: Inspiration comes from free drawing and the themes that interest me most. Sometimes it is the materials themselves that dictate the conditions and shape their composition. Poetry or words can also determine the development of a work. At some point the inspirations want a form and if I am careful enough I can follow them. I am not always careful.
FDV: Francesca, I know that you are also an art therapist, a job that has an important and precise mission. Can you tell us about it? Who is an art therapist? What are the benefits of art therapy and who are your patients?
FN: An art therapist is a person who has been specifically trained and has acquired knowledge, skills and competences related to emotional modulation and management of collective processes. He/she works for individual and collective well-being. He/she pays attention above all to the creative processes in which the people he/she works with engage, rather than to the aesthetic aspect of the artistic product. He is a kind of companion who encourages the person’s dialogue with his own images.
FDV: One last question: can you explain how the hand-sculptures that are on sale at our gallery came about?
FN: The hands were born from the deep reflection I have been doing for years on the feminine. Hands are female, even men’s hands. They have to do with touching, with the emanation of good energy, with creation and creativity, with making. A great anthropologist Maria Gjmbutas has made a profound study of the traces of the Goddess in prehistory and hands are present as decorations and signs with the symbolic meaning of fertility and life.