March 07, 2010

Bonaria Manca, Casa dei simboli / House of symbols

this picture courtesy of Marie Famulicki

Above photo of Bonaria Manca is a still from the Marie Famulicki movie La sérénité sans carburant (Serenity with no fuel), produced in 2004 when Manca was at age 79 and had become known in the fields of outsider art and art environments

Life and works

Bonaria Manca was born on July 10th, 1925 in the small community of Orune on the isle of Sardinia, In 1947 her family moved to the Viterbo area on Italy's mainland, north of Rome.

In 1965 Bonaria Manca settled in the community of Tuscania in a house bought by the family. Her marriage, contracted in 1968, held only some 12 years, especially because her husband could not accept Bonaria's independent way of life.

After her mother (in 1975) and a beloved brother (in 1978) had died, and her husband had left her (1980), she fell into a crisis, which she overcame in 1981 by starting to make paintings.

Although Bonaria Manca always had been fond of creative work, such as doing embroidery, painting became her passion, such a passion indeed, that from 1997 on she also began decorating walls and ceilings of her house with frescoes. Her themes included rural, religious and biblical scenes, memories from her life, totemic figures, all done in her specific personal style and use of colors.

this picture and the next two courtesy of Roberto Loru

She also has been working on canvas and card board, in her work evocating memories of her youth, scenes of rivers, mountains, woods, nature....

Bonaria Manca was rather reluctant to sell her work, since she felt these works had a soul, had to stay where they originated and should not be separated from her.

However, the Dutch outsider art collection De Stadshof could buy one of her paintings which was displayed for the first in the group exhibition Masters of the Margin (De Stadshof, Zwolle, Netherlands, November 1999 - March 2000). Later more paintings were added to the Stadshof collection.

In 2004 Marie Famulicki presented her movie Serenity without fuel, featuring the artist and her creations.

In subsequent years Manca's paintings on canvas have been exposed in various venues in Europe (Rome, Sardinia, Gent, Paris....). 

Partly because of these expositions, Manca's creative work has become increasingly known, also internationally.

In her late eighties, in 2013, Bonaria Manca ended making paintings. She passed away in the early hours of October 17th, 2020.

A conference and a booklet about the artist

In September 2014 a conference was held in Tuscania on the occasion of the publication of the booklet Bonaria Manca. Rinascere ogni giorno, edited by Pavel Konečný and Roberta Trapani (see documentation).

Saving the site for the future

In the meantime (in October 2013) an association of friends was formed, which aimed to sustain the artist now she was in her nineties and which also aimed to save Manca's house for the future. In September 2015 this Associazione Bonaria Manca organized a conference in Tuscania.

In December 2015 it was announced that the Italian Department of Culture had decided that Bonaria Manca's house and her artworks inside the house would have a protected status indeed. In the future it might be used as a studio for artists in residence

Selected documentation
* The official website "Bonario Manca" with biography, pictures of her oeuvre. lists of articles, books and so on 
* Facebook (with a variety of pictures)
Website of the Dutch outsider art collection de Stadshof
* Article by Roberta Trapani on SPACES website
* Bonaria Manca. Rinascere ogni giorno, booklet edited by Pavel Konečný and Roberta Trapani (Marginàlie, 2014), with contributions by Jean-Marie Drot, Claire Margat, Gabriele Mina, Daniela Rosi and Roberta Trapani (presented on September 20, 2014 in Tuscania)
* Article (September 2018) by Desirée Maida, "Alla scoperta della Casa dei Simboli, dimora dell’artista pastora Bonaria Manca a Tuscania" (Discovering the House of Symbols, home of the shepherdess/artist Bonaria Manca in Tuscania), on website Artribune
* Article (October 17th, 2020) in newspaper Corriere della Sera with an in memoriam of Bonaria Manca.

* Marie Famulicki, Serenity with no fuel (La sérénité sans carburant), movie produced by Stella Productions (2004, 52') ; a small fragment (1'15"):

* Video by Lazio Innova (YouTube, 2'29". uploaded march 2015

A video by La Donna Sarda, added October 2016 to Vimeo

first published July 2010, last revised May 2023

Bonaria Manca
Strada Viterbese n. 1, 
01017 Tuscania,Viterbo, Lazio, Italy
visits only on appointment via