“We are ‘eternal’ learners.”
Daniela Manutius-Forster, artist and storyteller, has travelled the world following in the footsteps of the wisdom tradition and pursuing her love of philosophy, metaphysics, books, future thinking, imagination and spirit. A pilgrim of sacred spaces, she embraces the spiritual and is inspired by the boundless, astronomical cosmic universe. Her philosophical and mystical quests have led to a deep-seated interest in the neuroscience of religion and hermeneutics. All that she has learnt converges in her work, finding creative expression in a unique style of storytelling that flows through her paintings, collage, picture-books, storyboards, dream journaling, sculpture and design.
Daniela was born and spent her childhood in Bavaria, Germany. She completed her higher education in the USA, obtaining a BA in Philosophy, German Literature and Humanistic Psychology and then an MA in Film Studies. She studied the Sciences and Medicine for four years before transferring to Film School at Columbia University, New York, where she developed her deep interest in the relationship between “the physical and the spiritual”, influenced by the works of Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Giambattista Della Porta and Galileo, to name just a few. She was lucky enough to work extensively with “Auteur Theory” founder and respected film critic, Andrew Sarris.
During these New York years, Daniela immersed herself in intensive Siddha Yoga practices and has since attended retreats at Indian Ashrams in Ganeshpuri, Kerala and Poona, as well as visiting Potala in Tibet. Her spiritual studies brought her into contact with Eastern Mystics - Deepak Chopra, Mother Meera and Sai Baba and the metaphysical author Stuart Wilde, amongst others. She was privileged to have a private Darshan with the Dalai Lama.
At one retreat, whilst still a university student, she met film director Bernardo Bertolucci who admired the head-piece she had designed and asked her to create a few prototypes for him. These were subsequently used in his Oscar-winning film “The Last Emperor”.
In the early 1990s, her unique head-dresses, tiaras, hats and accessories designed for Dior, St Laurent, Lagerfeld and Givenchy graced the fashion runways of New York, Paris and London. They were best-sellers at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and other select boutiques. Super-models, actresses, rock stars, celebrities and many of the European nobility have all been adorned in Daniela’s “wearable art”.
Moving to London in 1992, Daniela worked extensively with Swarovski for several years, designing best-selling, ornate, crystal handbags and jewellery. She was commissioned by the Italian designer Laura Biagiotti to design a unique head-dress for the launch of her perfume “Venezia”, which is still on exhibition in the Fashion Wing at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In collaboration with Austrian artist, poet and singer Andre Heller, she also created a six foot “Sleeping Goddess” crystal sculpture for Swarovski’s permanent museum exhibit “Kristallwelten” (Crystal Worlds), in Austria.
In the mid-1990s, Daniela decided to take a “retreat”, and moved into a grotto on the crest of Mount Epomeo, on the Island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples to focus on her writing and her collaging. Overlooking the tiny village of Santa Maria del Monte, she continued studying and working on her art and writing. She also started composing music. Today her spiritually-influenced symphony is nearing completion.
Daniela still travelled extensively in Europe and Asia during this time, but kept returning to Ischia and chose to settle in a small villa on the island for a further five years. When it was time to leave, she packed two small bags of her personal belongings, and donated everything else she owned (including her art) to an orphanage on Ischia.
In 2001, Daniela returned to New York just two weeks before 9/11. She volunteered for eight months counselling families of the victims in the aftermath of this tragedy, and developed a close relationship with a Swedish man working in New York whose life, like that of so many at the time, was irrevocably changed when the Twin Towers were attacked.
Whilst in New York this second time, Daniela’s art entered a new phase and she sold many pieces to private collectors, drawn to her unique combination of symbolism, dimension, semantics, light and texture. She also gifted many pieces to other 'creatives' she met along the way.
After four years, following her heart and intuition, Daniela moved to Sweden to a beautiful old house in Dalsland which, once renovated, she planned to turn into a writers’ and artists’ retreat. She continued to paint and to sell her art to discerning collectors worldwide. Her works were exhibited at Hans-Jurgen Mueller’s Galerie Artlantis in Stuttgart, Germany from 2006 until his tragic death in 2009.
After a visit to England in the summer of 2010, Daniela fell in love with the glorious English countryside and decided that this is where she wished to settle for the rest of her life.
Very much a renaissance woman, Daniela sets her own agenda for personal achievement. Undoubtedly eccentric, with a wicked sense of humour, a remarkable intelligence and very much in touch with her inner child, she has a great deal to offer those around her. With many years of experience as a creative coach, she enjoys nurturing and encouraging other artists and writers. She is passionately committed to further developing her art and her writing for the benefit of children and education.
“Ultimately my vision and principles are educational, with a sound and inspiring philosophy to stimulate both creative and imaginative thinking. Working for the welfare and the enrichment of children’s lives is one of my deepest desires.”