Hi guys! I want to share some great news with you! On September 14-19 at myday-byday gallery in Rome Our Own Montreal Annegret Morf and Antonio Serafino are featuring their contemporary jewelry at the exhibition ‘Balancing the Opposites’! I want to take it as an opportunity to tell you more about the artistic duo which many of you already know.
“The great thing about getting older is that you can look back and say, maybe it wasn’t just a big string of unrelated, chaotic and inconclusive events… maybe one thing actually did lead to another, and together all of these whims are part of this wonderful thing called life experience. Like Antonio and Annegret first meeting in Tuscany, in that old farmhouse turned into a boarding house. He, the self-proclaimed son of proletarians, teasing her about being the spoiled, rich, bourgeois Swiss kid going to school in Florence. And she getting so fed up and telling him to suck it up and go back to school to make his dream come true. And he actually following this advice and becoming a successful goldsmith with a studio boutique in Florence. And then there was the robbery and the consequential move to Canada. And a couple of years later he, saying to that woman who was no longer the bourgeois Swiss kid but his wife and the mother of their three young boys, “Hey – you can do this too, let’s do it together!” And she saying “Yesss!” and dropping her career as a violin maker to become his apprentice. Things like that, ideas big and small, juggled around and adventurous decisions made between changing diapers and preparing meals in an eternally precarious world. Those two had no idea what they were getting into, but here they are thirty years later; she is piercing holes into his 3D-designed solid sculptural rings and weaving wires into them like plants looking for light. He is adding elements to her organic fairylike pieces, trying to keep them grounded in the real world. Here they are – still balancing the opposites and still searching for the true meaning of harmony.
What do I have to add to this beautiful story about the two artists? Both their lives are closely twisted in this creative duo.
Since my early childhood moving was just another part of life.
While I used to feel I was a person with no roots, I now find that I am a person with roots all over the world! Roots that reach over the Atlantic Ocean and unite 2 continents. Roots that are anchored in the countries I have spent my life in; Switzerland, the USA, Italy and Canada.
I have changed my profession as many times as I have crossed the ocean.
In Switzerland I started out as a sign painter, I then moved on to Italy to become an art restorer. After several years, still in Italy and by a pure hazard, I became an apprentice to a violin-maker. When we moved to Canada I continued to make and repair violins. And then, 12 years ago my husband Antonio, a goldsmith, and I decided to unite our energy and make jewelry together.
All this moving around repeatedly required the effort to build relationships with new friends and to weave new networks. The serendipity and fragility of these networks have always intrigued and amazed me. They evoke an image that was planted in my mind in my early childhood when my parents would read me myths from different cultures as bedtime stories. The image is of three women spinning the threads of our lives, they are the masters of human destiny, from birth to death.
These threads or “paths” entwine and knit together the network of what seem to be casual encounters. All together they create a body, like a sculpture that, however fragile it may seem, is the essence of the precious and evolving thing that is our life.
In my effort to represent this metaphoric body as an artwork, I use traditional materials mainly silver, gold and pearls and I experiment with a combination of laser welding and traditional soldering. Occasionally I integrate glass, rubber or leather. Apart from the technical challenges, I realize that I am trying to give a rhythm to these encounters and paths, to give them some kind of order.
I used to feel that my life was divided in capsules with clear divisions but now, looking back I see the continuity, I am the plant that all these roots have grown into and my work as a goldsmith is the fruit of all of my experience.
I was born in Naples, I am curious and I have a vision. I like to explore new techniques, find new designs and above all meet new people. These are the things that inspire me.
Since the beginning of mankind beauty has been part of our daily life. A beautiful landscape, a colourful plate or a finely crafted pendant are all things that contribute to our happiness and well-being.
When I was very young I found a job with a blacksmith, that’s how I was introduced to working with metal, making big pieces of “jewelry” in the form of gates and tables and chandeliers. So when it was time to choose a profession I decided to go to Florence to become a goldsmith. In this haven of Renaissance art, I was initiated in the traditional techniques of Florentine jewelry by Maestro Franco Franchi in the “Casa del Orafo”. This ancient deconsecrated convent, in the centre of Florence, where each cell was occupied by a different goldsmith, contained centuries of goldsmith heritage. It was an amazing place for a young man hungry for knowledge like me!
After working from my home for a few years, I opened my studio/boutique in the Oltrarno district of Florence, just 2 minutes away from Ponte Vecchio. In my studio I developed my own style which is in stark contrast with my apprenticeship. However, I continued to use the traditional techniques and materials.
And then comes the time to make a dramatic decision, a radical change, we move to Canada, Quebec. The adventure begins with finding a job and goes on to finding contacts. I become a member of the Quebec Arts Council. At the same time I am learning 2 languages, French and English. At my age this is not easy. This is where my Italian gesticulation skills really come in handy! I become a founding member of a theatre troupe and learn French… on stage.
As soon as I have learnt my first words I am looking for artisans, suppliers and, of course, potential clients. Temerity is a long-term investment.
I’m also a very lucky man. In my first 5–6 years in Canada I worked with some very knowledgeable people and was introduced to new technologies and different ways of making jewelry. After this I started collaborating with my wife Annegret and things got very interesting. Her diverse artistic background gives a fresh dynamic and openness to our studio.
While rooted in tradition, I am fascinated by new technologies such as 3D printing and laser welding. I strive to make the most of the old and the new world.
All information and photos are kindly presented by myday-byday gallery (Rome).