The magic threads of Maria Lai

Our letter comes with words from Maria Lai: "I am happy if, in a moment of global uncertainty, I can make you feel like you are holding the sun in your hand".


The magic threads of Maria Lai

This year we send our letter from Sardinia with the paintings and words of Maria Lai, the most important living artist on Sardinia, who is now more than 90 years old. She says to you, 'I am happy if I am able to give you, at this moment of global insecurity, the feeling of holding the sun in your hand, – “tenendo per mano il sole” – and to feel the longing for the skies, since it is the sun and the skies that give us first knowledge and then growth for happier living.'

Maria Lai communicates her message through art, love and mutual respect. And thus it was Maria Lai who, in the 1980s, intertwined the mountains of her village (Ulassai in Ogliastra) with the houses using brightly colored threads – blue and white, red and green – 'in order to unite man and nature, and connect the holiness of the mountains and that of the family.'  Her works, which convey this message of hope, can be admired in “Stazione dell’arte” between Jerzu and Ulassai.  This authentic contemporary art has been exhibited in Miami and Milan and everywhere else in the world.  In addition, there is artwork to be seen in Ulassai itself, such as the 'Lavatoio', the village’s washing area encircled with braided threads, high up in the foothills.

In Maria Lai’s art, threads have always played a central role. According to a description by the art critic, Mario Ciusa Romagna, she sees thread as 'man’s eternal process, but also storm and calm, water and stone, grief and hope. It is time. Just as man, I myself and all of you, we are time. Art has always attempted to interpret, to find a beginning and end of things in this wide ocean of being.' Here the ocean means the island, Sardinia, whose beauty is unique in the world with its typical villages dotted over the inner foothills of Gennargentu and Limbara.