Anna Gardu, Ephemeral Art

The beauty of creating, the passion, the will to make a difference through sacrifices, joys and sorrows are clearly evident at a first glance in the colors and shapes of her almond-based sweets, ephemeral art pieces that she prepares in her laboratory in Oliena.

She was born at the heartland of Sardinia, in the city of Nuoro, where the wind blows in your veins to become life, a life that has inspired the masterpiece “Canne al vento” (“Reeds in the wind”) by Grazia Deledda, also from Nuoro, and the first Italian woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature back in 1926.

An artistic path marked and enhanced by important recognitions. Could you tell us about any in particular?
The Alferano Award, which I received in 2014 from the jury president and artistic director, Professor Vittorio Sgarbi. Together with Santino Carta from the Pio ALFERANI Foundation, he recognized and rewarded my work as a form of ephemeral art.
In 2017, I was one of the five Italian artists who represented Italy at the international crafts exhibition “INTERNATIONAL HOKURIKU KOGEI SUMMIT”.

Your family has been running your laboratory for four generations of people strongly connected, in their hearts and minds, by their love for a Sardinian and Mediterranean profession that is all about identity. How old were you when you discovered this passion, so innovative compared to your ancestors’, and how did it happen?
I have had it since I was child, but it was crucial to my life choices when I became an adult. After several different professional experiences, I felt the calling of my land and my origins, and it prevailed on any other possible career.

Your creations contain your land, your Sardinian identity, as if you wanted to make their beauty known to the whole world. To what extent are your origins key to your creativity?
I decided to follow in my great-grandfather Nicola Colli’s footsteps. He was the pioneer of my family’s pastry-making business. After attending a pastry school in Genoa, he went back to Sardinia, and married my great-grandmother Maria. Out of love for her, he moved to Oliena, her hometown, and took his pastry art there, where he created new decorations inspired by traditional dresses.
This is how our timballe were born, and their name is inspired by the mold where domes of almond brittle were made from finely ground almonds with icing decorations.
I started from my grandfather’s decorations and added my own ideas, inspired by filigree jewellery.

Your works of art have a relatively brief lifetime. How do you feel as you create them, showcase them, and then watch them end so briefly?
I feel peaceful, as I know that this ephemeral art has a beginning and an end. It stirs emotions in me right from the start, when I have an almond in my hand and let my creativity take over.

Besides art, you are also really respectful of the environment. What ingredients different than almonds do you use for your sweet sculptures?
I only use natural products – sugar, honey, and aromas with citrus zest or vanilla beans.

You are young and bursting with positive energy. What would you like to achieve in the near future when it comes to protecting the environment?
I would like to promote and increase the cultivation of Sardinia’s local almond, which has proved to be a sturdy plant. All parts of almonds can be used – the hull, to make colors and feeds, the shell, to make fuel, the seedcoat, to make paper and fabrics, and the seed itself to make cosmetic essential oils.

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