Over 50 years of collaborating with sculptors from around the globe to produce sculpture in marble and granite

Our Story

Studio Sem was founded in the mid 1950’s by Sem Ghelardini and over the years developed into one of the most important sculpture studios in Pietrasanta if not the region.  Sem’s passion and enthusiasm for modern art in the early 1960’s at a time when the majority of artisans rejected the new abstract forms as ridiculous and foolish, was what brought so many sculptors to his studio with the certainty that they would be understood. He made a tradition of inviting young artists to learn by being in the proximity of some of the most celebrated modern masters, such as Henry Moore, Georges Adam, Emile Gilioli, Poncet, Demitrienko and Alicia Penalba while they visited the studio during the execution of their work. He gave the aspiring young sculptors the opportunity to work alongside his artisans with some of the finest marble in the world; he advised, cajoled and encouraged them to open their eyes to the sculptures being made in the studio and invited them to dream of making large works.<span>&nbsp; </span>His greatest desire was that they become better sculptors; that they learn from working in the proximity of master craftsmen and celebrated artists.

During the late 70's and 80's the contemporary artists collaborating with Sem included César, Helaine Blumenfeld, Barry Flanagan, Peter Randall-Page, Dutch artists Maja van Hall, Charlotte van Pallandt, Ans Hey, Fons Schobbers and Norwegian Knut Steen to name a few. Sem was almost as celebrated as the sculptors he worked for, becoming an international icon, whose name evoked memories of boundless generosity, compassion and an intense desire to help young artists find their path.

His untimely death in 1997 brought his long time right hand Keara McMartin into the role of sole director for Studio Sem. She continued the tradition that Sem had begun of hosting emerging artists and welcoming a growing roster of artists that included, Eppe de Haan and Eja Siepman van den Berg, British artists Damien Hirst, Ralph Brown and Anthony Abrahams and Norwegian Odd Nerdrum.

By the year 2000 all but one of of Sem's original artisans had retired, but not before passing on their knowledge to the new generation at Studio Sem. With younger craftsmen to guide, Keara and  Sem's  youngest son Pierangelo, who was by then a leading artisan in the studio, formed a partnership. They held Sem's conviction that this international influx of artists, united with the traditional mastery of the local artisans, would contribute to keeping alive the millennial “art” of marble carving in the Versilia area and would help to create the next generation of modern masters. And so it has. We are all proud to be part of a team in the midst of a family of artists that continues an open exchange of ideas and solutions for everything from technical installations of monumental work to the tools that are needed in creating new surface texture. Artisans and artists guide each other through the cretive process of producing a sculpture. We embrace the world of robotics from the perspective of an economic means to an end and approach the 'magic' with caution honed by experience.