This sculpture by Elia Ajolfi entitled “Composition with exotic birds” represents three birds as symbols of education, science and culture - UNESCO's areas of action - as well as emblems of freedom, love and peace.
In mythology, the bird is generally a symbol of the spirit, rebirth and light. Throughout history, humans have attributed to the bird a wide range of popular and lyrical imagery. Emblem of hope and liberty, it is capable of shouldering all man’s aspirations, and thus also reflects what UNESCO strives for through its activities and actions worldwide.
Elia Ajolfi is an Italian sculptor born in 1916, particularly known for his animal sculptures. He was a student of Giuseppe Graziosi (1879-1942) as well as Italo Griselli (1880-1958), two important sculptors of the beginning of the twentieth century. Wounded at the age of 20 during the Second World War when the American forces arrived in Italy, and bedridden in the hospital, Ajolfi spent his time observing and producing countless sketches of the faces, expressions and attitudes of the hospitalized soldiers. As he was often short on paper, he would draw on the blank V-mail (Victory Mail) forms - sheets of pre-printed paper that were used by the families in America to send mail to soldiers on the front in Europe. These sketches grew into a large collection made up of hundreds of drawings of irreproachable artistic quality, which today constitute an extremely precious historical testimony of the American wartime presence in Italy.
Ajolfi's great admiration and passion for nature and animal life, present since childhood, is revealed by his sculptures of horses, bulls, sheep, rams, herons, owls, eagles, peacocks, ants, among many other animals. He created both small-scale works as well as large statues, almost all of them made out of bronze. In the city of Lugano (Swizerland) for example, a bronze peacock two meters in height is installed on the lakeside promenade.
Elia Ajolfi passed away in Bergamo, in 2001, at the age of 84.