LerènieS – Paper is a Precious Gift

Maria Francesca Batzella is an incredibly unique artist with a poet’s soul based in Italy. A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, she is fascinated by the possibilities of paper while remaining mindful of the importance of recycling materials. Heavily influenced and inspired by the mysterious past of the island of Sardinia, she has created a truly unique jewellery label – LerènieS. Let your imagination roam freely as you soak in Kindness by Design’s interview with this alluring artist!

Q. What does “LerènieS” stand for and how would you describe your design aesthetic?

LerènieS is an Anagram, which stands for “Sirens”, the theme which has interested me for quite some time. The deep symbolism of these mythical beings has been partially lost and partially substituted with banal meanings and images simplified and adapted for a different mythology.

I’m interested in sirens, in their archaic symbolism: “the siren is the bearer of ecstatic consciousness, which involves the body and differentiates the approach to the divine, based on reason and thought. The siren is a testimony of a life closer to the natural rhythm of union-separation, in search of completeness, not perfection. To celebrate our lives in the immanence of the divine and from this derives our daily ethical vision. To strive to see in the monstrous the manifestation of divine, stripping ourselves of prejudices and superstructure that our rational mind is always ready to give. We look at the siren when we strive to build our relationships, remembering that the union can only be obtained through a reciprocal transformation. To remember your desire for each other, we have to move the energy of the universe, and that every act of love and pleasure is the ritual of the goddess ” [cit].

My design aesthetics are very near to the tribal (perhaps the proximity of Africa, has had an impact on the aesthetic level, because my designs are heavily inspired by my homeland-Sardinia-island which still preserves so jealously its traditions and its culture). 

Q. When did you first consider jewellery design as a career? What was it exactly that appealed to you about that particular artistic medium?

I created my first jewel while still frequenting the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. The approach was artistic, very close to the sculpture. The first creation “Infinity”, which was in an exhibition in Florence, Milan, Rome and Madrid, met with good success, and undoubtedly this has great influence on the decision to devote myself to this different way of making sculptures.

I chose paper (never papier-mâché) for two principal reasons: humans began to decorate their bodies collecting found objects, which is in a sense, to “build” an object full of symbolism. Paper is a noble material, recyclable, and today more than ever, our planet demands respect and awareness, as saturated with waste products from human beings. 

I produce jewellery in paper (surface treated with waterproofing to cope with the deterioration) which has been enriched, not from material deemed valuable, but embellished by symbolic meaning narrated by each piece. I think it is important to understand and take what is the meaning of things in communion with creation, that is universal or human.

Q. How are your methods and materials contributing to a more sustainable environment?

I don’t create using papier-mâché, I leave the paper “free”. I work for stratification, I use a little vinyl glue diluted with water to put together one piece of paper to another, this is to limit the use of different materials that would contribute to “dirty” paper and weighing down the jewel. Unfortunately, it is necessary to counter the deterioration of paper using a product plasticizer, and to limit the use of the waterproofing, only on the finished jewel, in its outer surface.

Q. What makes paper such a special material to use?

Paper is a noble material, this is the main reason which makes it special, infinitely recyclable (think that by recycling existing paper they could not consume the new). Paper is flexible, offering a wide variety of creative possibilities. Paper is valuable (also assumes a value for what it contains, I think for example of printed money), the ways to use it are endless: from works of art (drawings, paintings, installations, sculptures) to the banal toilet paper. 

You can visually weigh it down (in my case, in reference to Sardinian culture) and “embellish” (giving it the form of an ornament) which is a “provocative” game as well as allowing sensitivity to issues of recycling (almost all creations of LerènieS are mostly made from scrap paper).

Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?

I am inspired by anyone in particular, my approach is artistic, I observe, process it and rework them, trying to get as much as possible from the mind-set.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your passion for the “Nuragico and Prenuragico” culture of Sardinia?

Sardinia is my homeland and a region of Italy that holds a piece of the world totally different from other Italian regions, starting from its archaeology. Sardinia is an ancient land, underpopulated, in some ways still wild. The land is so attached to the beliefs of a time now remote, living with its prehistory, in a “silent” way. 

Tholos e vestibolo in Sardinia – Photo credit: Cristiano Cani

Taking a walk in the Sardinian countryside, it’s easy to find yourself facing a domus de Janas-prenuragic civilization (BC 450000-1800) – or go near a dolmen – Nuraghic (Bronze Age) – it fascinates me so much this culture that is so different, ancient, preserved, while hidden (there are few places “cleaned” and used as guided tours, and many archaeological sites are left “hidden in silence” in the countryside, as little is known about some of these people who have lived on this island by building “towers” nuragiche, and erecting menhirs in the current countryside). 

Nuraghe Piscu in Sardinia – Photo credit: Cristiano Cani

I must thank a good friend of mine who is an archaeologist, who feeds and elucidates this passion and curiosity. 

Nuraghe Orgono – Photo credit: Cristiano Cani

Q. What is one of the most personally rewarding pieces you’ve ever produced?

I am very fond to my first piece: “Infinity”.

Q. What does the future hold for LerènieS?

When you have a seed you are faced with two choices: let go, pushed by the wind to the bosom of mother earth, helping the seed to open up and become a tree; or tighten it jealously between our hands for fear of losing it , or for fear of not being able to help it in the path of transformation.

I decided to open my hand and put my seed in the wind. I hope the wind will lull the seed up to mother earth, I am ready to take care of it. The future? I hope one day I could sit in the shade of my tree, or next to my little plant!

 You can find more amazing designs by LerènieS here – 

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