Ornella Casazza interviews Daniela Banci

Ornella Casazza interviews Daniela Banci

When did you choose to make jewellery as a way to express your creativity, and when did you realise it was your life passion?
I was born in Pesaro and specialised in Applied Metal Arts and Goldsmithing at the Art Institute of Fano, which had long been an experimental workshop led by the great artist Edgardo Mannucci (Fabriano 1904 – Arcevia 1986). I have wanted to work in the art field since I was a child. At 15, while at high school, I trained with Alberto Giorgi, Mannucci’s pupil. In his workshop, I improved my technical skills and developed my personal artistic style, which focuses on designing and manufacturing three-dimensional objects. In 1981, at the age of 20, I opened the studio Banci Gioielli with my sister Marzia. There I make jewels like fluid shapes that are always in the process of taking new forms .
After my degree in architecture from the IUAV in Venice, I embarked on a journey aimed at exploring the subjects that best conveyed my love of design and shapes, the numbers and symbols that intimately link them together and that make up my creative process, the way in which I communicate through visible, concrete signs.

What philosophy underlies your work?
The creative process of my work stems from my education. I always analyse past and contemporary architecture and sculpture, and the text of the Second Vatican Council, which glorifies noble beauty and the simplicity of sacred spaces.
I constantly focus on research to design small architectural shapes that soar into space. The light that penetrates that space becomes purified, and the chiaroscuro effects on reliefs turn into luminous accents.
Geometry is the essence of any basic shape – man has always produced ideal shapes like spheres, cones, cubes, like the Egyptian pyramids, the geometric spiral perfection of Iraqi minarets or Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence. While planning and designing, I come up with the techniques I then use .

Have you drawn inspiration from any intellectual movement?
I have analysed space and shapes by studying the Medicean stars and Galileo Galilei’s philosophy notes in his The Assayer,
‘this grand book — I mean the universe — which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it’ 1.
I have also read Galileo’s astronomical treatise Sidereus Nuncius (the Starry Messenger), the first scientific work based on telescope observations. In it, Galileo described his discoveries – the uneven surface of the moon, its shifting movement from dark to light, Jupiter’s moons and the hundreds of stars the naked eye had never before been able to see. Struck by what I read, I homaged Galileo by designing a series of jewels that were presented at the Centro Culturale S. Gaetano, at the exhibition Galileo and The Assayer (Galileo ed il Libro dell’Universo, 2009), which I designed and set up. Within the same event I curated the Regional Competition for high school art students for the International Astronomy Year.

You often speak about the cosmos, the sky and the universe. What do you actually mean?
I always look up at the night sky. I observe the twinkling stars and try to make out the traces of my ‘journey’ across the universe. I want to detect the sounds of the universe as it makes itself heard to my ears. I transfer these sensations to my jewels, which exude lightness and vibrations, and bring us back to music, light and its opposite, darkness.
Although light is weightless, it both shapes and transforms what I deem basic elements of my work based on proportion, harmony and geometric rigour.

How do you plan your collections of jewels?
In my jewellery, physical and spiritual elements – the Hands, the Mind and the Heart – combine with spatial ones – Light and the Sun. I collect impressions and create a story by joining all its constituent parts. I draw up a plan that enables me to develop my idea through sketching. I describe the collection I’m designing. However, at times, the narrative within the object becomes defined only at the very end, when the work is finished. Materials come into play at the very beginning, and they, too, are extremely important. The material may actually generate the collection as it adapts but also clashes with my techniques and my initial idea.
Invention, skill and materials are essential, and are extensively investigated to achieve my aims. It’s a bit like making your way in a forest of discoveries in which you feel you want to make out something whose image is still blurred. Sounds, sketches and materials are indispensable components to grasp the project in its entirety. This produces unity, shape and structure, just like in music.

Can jewels exist per se, or do they need to be worn?
As a goldsmith-architect, my works are never complete in themselves, their shapes are the product of prolonged interior elaboration, of purely mental processes that constantly relate to the environment, people, history and materials, and may be interpreted in different ways.

Has your production developed through different stages, or has it evolved in a straight line?
There have been several stages in my production that correspond to the collections I have designed over the years, always trying to be a goldsmith. They have these titles – The Colours of Desire, Geodedication, Entelechia Ruah, Birth, The Sky for a Star and Underground.

In one of these stages you investigated sacred and spiritual space.
Certainly. The text of the Second Vatican Council prompted me to design some of my jewels, like Dome and Skyline, which analyse space as the most vital element in anything surrounding us – it is full of life, energy, movement and rhythm.

Where has your work been exhibited in recent years?
In 2014, my jewellery was displayed at the exhibition Art Jewellery. Tradition in Modernity (Gioielli d’Artista. La tradizione nella modernità) at the Spazio Mostre of the Ente Cassa di Risparmio of Florence and the Horne Museum (Florence). There I also presented the sculpture-jewels I created in collaboration with the Florentine ceramist-sculptor Paolo Staccioli. I infused horses, Staccioli’s classic subjects, with precious elements and new dimensions associated with space, the sky, flight and the circular flow of time. Staccioli’s horses grew wings and soared into the sky recalling mythical figures.
My jewels have been presented at solo and collective exhibitions in Italian and foreign cities like Venice, Florence, Vienna, Graz, Munich, London, Istanbul, Taipei, Paris and Tokyo.
Since 2011, one of my works has become part of the permanent collections of the Museo degli Argenti at Palazzo Pitti (Florence).

Banci Banci