Year / 2016
The project illustrates the first results of the research conducted during 2015 by Vittorio Venezia and Carolina Martinelli on the manufacture of the vases of Caltagirone, assisted by Andrea Branciforti, a local designer who has been coordinating for years a wide network of neighborhood craftsmen in the production of high quality items. The tradition of terracotta in this town in the Sicilian hinterland is very old and this is confirmed by its name of Arabic origin Qal'at al Ghiran, or "Cliff of vases". Thanks to the abundant availability of raw material and the skill of generations of craftsmen, this territory has succeeded, over the centuries, in gaining the distinction of "The city of Ceramic". Many do not know that Caltagirone is actually made up of two towns within the city. On the tops of three hills adjacent to the chain of Erei stands the historical and tourist centre, with its famous staircase surrounded by numerous workshops specialized in the decoration of ceramics; downstream – more than five kilometres away – is placed, instead, the industrial district. This was born in the Sixties when the growth of the exportation demand for pieces of great value encouraged the development of small companies, mostly family owned, suitable for the production of standardized items in large numbers. Unfortunately, in recent years, the heavy economic crisis and international competition have led to the marginalization and impoverishment of the entire production area. Although there are still many master craftsmen who perpetuate the tradition, almost all industries are empty and the presses and ovens are turned off. This place has become the basis of a project that tells precisely of this duality and this rift between city- craftsmanship world and the industrial world, attempting in some way to bridge this gap.
The result is a family of ceramic containers that combine a mass production system with a manual manufacturing. In particular, they are composed of two halves: the lower parts are constituted by classic vases made with the mould, standardized, on which are overlapped forms made using the lathe, always different because they are manually crafted and because they are designed as constant variations of traditional techniques, decomposed and recomposed in unusual iconographies. Thus, the objects realized are not an end in themselves, but they represent an excuse to tell a story, spaces, reflections and to rediscover a tradition that is taken for granted and that, instead, it can be an inexhaustible source of originality. Our contemporary can again originate from our neighbourhood, so why not start it right from Caltagirone? From a small site on a small street, where artisans are masters in shaping the material with traditional techniques that when remixed and concentrated in a new project can become unusual and innovative.
Concept and design / Martinelli Venezia
Coordinate Manufactured / Andrea Branciforti