"I am living in a wonderfully supportive paradise, where my own child was born and raised."
Maria Pilato, better known as Mariella, was born in southern Italy near Napoli. She graduated from the Academia di Belle Arti in 1982 and, choosing to take some time out, Mariella started on what was to become a tour of the world, eventually arriving in Bali in 1994. She settled here, where she's been designing and creating jewelry.
"The mutual support that I experience here, from those who have become my extended family, their trust and the sense of empowerment I gain from them, has helped me realize my dreams. I have a friend and colleague who is my right hand. He understands me, my ideas, drawings and sense of style. He always rises to the technical challenge of what I envision, and he can fabricate it with his mind and hands. I have worked with him and some of the best smiths for nearly nine years. And then there's the personal side. I've seen some of them marry and have children. Recently we celebrated the marriage between the person who cooks for us while we work, and one of the silversmiths.
"I came all the way from Italy and many of the silversmiths are immigrants too. Most were 'island-hopping' from Java to Bali, which means we all have something in common in that we arrived here with a dream to better our lives and provide for our children. Bali has blessed us all in that way. It's a kind of magical, creative environment. I can, for example, take a walk in the countryside and see the beautiful landscapes – they inspire me in my designs. There's no limit to creativity, but that which you impose in your own mind.
"For instance, I see a beautiful piece of wood and I know there is a talented Balinese carver who can help me translate my ideas into actual concrete objects. I am living in a wonderfully supportive paradise, where my own child was born and raised. Moreover, we are part of an extended family that transforms the art in my dreams. Now Novica has given me back my time. I am able to be here, make my designs and spend more time with my child. I can now be at home for longer periods, and choose which shows to go to, like the ones that include artists and gemstone jewelers from all over the world."