Seals. Signs and Identities by Anna Fornari

Exhibition  /  20 Jan 2017  -  07 May 2017
Published: 01.02.2017
Museo Del Gioiello
Anna Fornari

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The new temporary exhibition “Seals: Signs and Identities curated by Anna Fornari, will run alongside the biennial display and be arranged into two sections: a historical-archaeological area with 20 wearable seals and seal-objects from the La Spezia Civic Museum seal collection, dating from the fourth millennium BC to the 1940s, and a creative-artistic one with 50 creations that include installations devised and created by Anna Fornari herself.

Artist list

Anna Fornari
The exhibition pays homage to the fascinating world of seals providing further information on the meaning of "signs" as representative of symbolic evolutions that have, over the millenniums, shaped the structure of social relations. By combining Anna Fornari's jewellery with specimens from the Seal Museum's Capellini-Banfi collection, the exhibition binds and unites history, modern art and universal communication systems starting from learning about the birth of the seal matrix and its evolution as the maximum tool for affirming its owner's identity. The most ancient mechanisms of matrix and imprint, that game of empty and full relief work, light and dark, mirror and image, are re-processed in creations defined by the lack of a pre-established right and wrong side. It was this double value of identifying and identification that led to the idea of retrieving the meaning of the seal.

Seals: signs and identities
In the 2003 I bought a set of glass- paste moulds, charcterized by different engravings.
Having no idea of what their value could be and, consequentely, beeing not able to interprete their history, I got in touch with the Museo del Sigillo della Spezia and, in particular, with Anna Nancy Rozzi, archeologist and keeper of the Civic Museum. At an accurate investigation, the moulds in my possession were revealed to be “....specimens of the so called motto seals, very fashionable during the second half of the XVIII and the first decades of the following century, when the “Tipari” (engravers) used to reproduce a figure and a sentence or a proverb inspired by that figure....&rdquoStarting from that point, a positive cooperation between me, artist jeweller, and Anna Nancy R ozzi has started.
Museo del Sigillo della Spezia is considered unique in its genre; it was born as a consequence of a donation of one thousand five hundred models made by the collectors Euro and Lillian Capellini and Fiocchi-Banfi. The museum offers the most complete sphragistics collection ever put together, presenting seals that go from the IV millennium b.c., up to the contemporary period.

So I began a research and a project on the meaning of Singns, that are representative of historic and symbolic evolutions, thus creating rings and seals-necklaces, in the double dimension of the “seals”; in this way I gave life and continuity to the dialectic relationship between body and soul, substance and thought, that are the themes reminding of the significant development in the human habits and history.
The seal is the mark engraved in negative on a pliable material, that could be paper, wax, tissue as well as argil, by using a mould made of different material (silver, gold, bronze).

Seals are one of the oldest signs of civilisation, in fact they appear in Mesopotamia since the VII millenium, with the first expressions of men organizations. Their development is linked to the flourishing of a structured public administration.
They have always had, especially in old times, an identification purpose similar to and even stronger than the one we today tribute to the signature. During the centuries the importance in the use of seals has assumed connotations and functions more and more widespread and valuable.
Being a sign of ownership, the seal is representative of the social status of his owner and becomes an ideological and symbolical object. The seal is something strictly belonging to his owner.

During the centuries the importance tributed to the signs of seals enriches itself not only for its identifying, legal, diplomatic or administrative functions, but it also gains symbolic, allegoric, poetical and literary functions; an example is given by the history of the literati’s seals within the European culture, where the inscriptions made of many characters were poems, mottos or wishing formulas.
In the most elaborate situations, like the ones dating back to the Chinese dynasties, they were the literati themselves that, together with the development of the calligraphic arts, created moulds and printings of the seal, so joining the poetical and literary contents and the aesthetic aspect of the object.
The diffusion of the seals has had an extension not exclusively in terms of time but also in territorial terms, accompanying and fixing the most relevant moments in the social, religious, institutional life of men from the Orient to the Occident.

The aesthetic research concerns not only the product-seal, but extends to the shape of the seal on its whole. The object-seal actually gets value through the decorative elements of the handle, thus making it a true object of art that goes far beyond the art of glyptic. In this way the seal as a complete object represents an historical account.
From all these considerations it arises the idea of going back to the meaning of the seal seen in its double aspect of something that means both “identity” and “identification”.
Nowadays the artistic and handicraft production of seals doesn’t have a practical diffusion any more, but it still maintains its function of identifying.
More than ever before, we today need to “seal” all our productions, would they be artistic, industrial, cultural or handmade; the timber, the mark, the signature, the electronic code and QR Code make it possible to identify and to ascribe the subject. The seal is a guarantee of the quality of the materials, the uniqueness of the object and the control over the exports.

Another relevant element is the close examination of the very modern debate on the safeness of the quality marks.
In this field there are a lot of sections of analysis : the manufacturing of glass, ceramic, jewellery, paper, tissue, wood etc.
Beside these researches, we can find retrospectives of artists that have made seals of great historical relevance. That is the case of Master Lautizio Di Meo De’ Rotelli from Perugia “....unique in the world in his profession...”, as Benvenuto Cellini describes him in his “Trattato dell’Oreficeria” and in his “Vita”
/Anna Fornari

Anna Fornari. Pendant: Traceable, 2016. Silver, glass.. Anna Fornari
Pendant: Traceable, 2016
Silver, glass.
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Anna Fornari. Necklace: Historical, 2007. Gold, sealing wax.. Anna Fornari
Necklace: Historical, 2007
Gold, sealing wax.
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Anna Fornari. Necklace: Travel, 2011. Silver, cardboard, sealing wax, rope wrapping.. Anna Fornari
Necklace: Travel, 2011
Silver, cardboard, sealing wax, rope wrapping.
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Historical Seal.
Historical Seal

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Historical Seal.
Historical Seal

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