← Back to the main page Edda

Carpi, November 3rd, 1923

In Vittorio Emanuele square (now Piazza Martiri), on the arches of il Portico Lungo (“the Long Porch”), the tricolor flags are already waving in anticipation of tomorrow’s event, November 4th, the celebration for Italy’s Victory at the end of the Great War.

A few steps from there, in via Paolo Guaitoli (which the inhabitants of Carpi call via della Catena, literally “road of the Chain”) Edda is born at civic number 32, from A. L. Francesco Martini and Elda Pedrielli.

The Martini family comes from the town of Ostiglia, in the Province of Mantua.

Francesco, reported missing at the end of the war, has recently come home after a venturesome escape from Russia, which was in the middle of the Revolution at the time.

The Martini furniture store started out as a humble shop selling brooms and doormats, but will soon grow. Its storefronts will occupy the corner between via Paolo Guaitoli and via Ciro Menotti.

The Pedrielli family, who’s lived in Carpi for countless generations, are pig brokers and quite wealthy.

During the cold winter of 1929 Romana, Edda’s little sister, is born.

As a child, Edda attends the School of Sacro Cuore, run by the Suore di Carità (Sisters of Charity), the gates of which face via Ciro Menotti. She is a smart student, and quite vivacious. She doesn’t like math that much, but has a true talent for drawing.

There’s no better gift than a box of wooden pencils for her, and she gazes upon their colorful tips, fascinated with them.

Fortunately, her disposition gets noticed and appreciated. She attends the Venturi Art Institute in Modena, and these years allow her to try and experiment with various artistic techniques. More specifically, the watercolorist Arcancelo Salvarani significantly influences her formative experience. As a consequence, she develops a strong preference for watercolors.

It’s wartime. During winter, the blackout makes it difficult to reach Carpi’s train station in the dark of the first morning hours. But with the warm weather, you can hop on your bike and readily get from Carpi to Modena in a flash, traveling a road where cars are still a rarity to see.

She graduates in 1943.

In the meantime, when she was just fifteen she met Antonio Morisi, whom everyone called Toni. They are the same age, and about to share a long life together.

The Morisi family comes from San Giovanni in Persiceto, in the Province of Bologna. Antonio’s father and older brothers are craftsmen and furniture decorators.

After school, Antonio is hired at Magneti Marelli. Sadly however, his promising career is abruptly interrupted by the war.

Edda and Toni, as all couples of the period that had to undergo long and painful separations, overcome the war years by writing letters upon letters to each other.

At night after the curfew, when everyone spends their time closed up inside their domestic walls, the young painter portrays her relatives. Her paper is as black as the blackout, her lines are precise. Sometimes the sudden break of the alarm siren interrupts her work, and forces her to abandon her colors and paper and run to the nearest shelter with the others.

Eventually, the war finally ends, and the young couple can begin to start a family on their own.

Together with his brothers, Toni creates the Reparto Verniciatura (“Painting Division”) of Carrozzeria Ariani, located separately.

By now Edda has started working at the School of Sacro Cuore, and by night she works as a cashier at Cinema Modernissimo and Supercinema.

It’s the postwar period. Life starts anew, and it’s filled with brand-new possibilities.

Edda and Toni get married in 1950. It’s a cold morning at the end of April. Arcangelo Salvarani gifts her promising pupil with a watercolor complete with autographed dedication. The honeymoon is at Lake Garda.

The newlywed couple moves into the bride’s family house.

Edda adds another occupation to the list: she starts painting ornamental motifs, fruit and flowers on wood shavings (hats specifically). Wood shavings are part of a long tradition in Carpi, although it’s now starting to decline. Nonetheless, the generation of older women will keep on weaving “straws” still for some years to come.

The economic boom is starting: in Carpi this overlaps with the explosion of the textile-clothing sector.

In the late ’50s, Edda starts her first experiments with fabric painting. Since the beginning, she can count on her husband’s technological support and experience in the sector.

On January 25th, 1953 their only daughter Daniela is born.

Five years later the small family moves “outside the walls” in via Ugo da Carpi, just above the Reparto Verniciatura Fratelli Morisi.

Edda goes on teaching in the morning and selling cinema tickets in the evening, but she does not neglect pencils and brushes. This is the period of her ivory miniatures, the landscapes, and the charcoal, sepia, and sanguine portraits.

Textile painting is becoming more and more popular, especially on new fabrics such as organzine and trevira. Cocktail dresses, skirts, blouses, scarves and shawls, all brightly colored and covered with shining paillettes: her tireless hands give life to countless unique pieces, as the years start running… The ’60s go by… followed by the ’70s…

In 1977 her granddaughter Irene is born, and “granny” Edda is ready, at the age of 54, for her first personal art exhibition. Many more will follow, both on her own and together with other artists, and in the meantime she will participate in courses, events and commemorations, initiatives, and donations to the Municipality, Parishes, Organizations and Associations.

Particularly, it is important to point out her vast production of watercolors and pens dedicated to her own Carpi, which she reproduced with love up to the most hidden corners and in all ages. Her works were used for the historic-artistic guide of Carpi, cured by Alfonso Garuti and Dante Colli and published by Libreria Il Portico in 1990.

After the year 2000, afflicted by a grave degenerative disease, she keeps on painting until her hands can no longer hold the paintbrush.

She passes away on November 19th, 2015.