Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sicilian Ceramics

It seems that no matter where you go here in Italy there is a regional style of ceramics: though many of the items - particularly those made for mass consumption in locations far removed from Italy - bear striking similarities there are colour, themes and designs that are specific to Umbria, Tuscany, the Veneto, Napoli or Sicilia.  Its hard to avoid the shops crammed with wall plaques, holy water stoops, pots, Christmas ornaments, jars, urns or table wear of dubious provenance.  However it is still possible to find the work of local artists that reflect the tradition of the region but with a twist that also reflects the approach of the creator.

Though, god knows, we don't really need more things in the past four years the household inventory has been augmented by a few items, particularly the Christmas ornaments - yes I know as if we really need more Christmas ornaments.  However a wall plate, a Beaulieu-Hobbs name plaque and a large jar, all created by Valentina Pietrosanti in Sermoneta, will also be making their way back to Canada come July.

I'm pretty sure that Nicky thinks the sunshine that he loves so much comes out of this ceramic pot - and Nora is willing to let him do the ground work and she'll just bask in the rays afterwards.  The pot itself shows the distinct style of ceramics from the Lazio region - particularly the lemon branches.  It was created by the very talented Valentina Pietrosanti at Labratorio Uscio e Bottega in Sermoneta.
And they will be kept company by a few little items that were picked up on the trip to Sicilia. The style there seems to be a bit more naive and colours at times more primary than in many of the other regions.  Having said that I saw a plate in Erice and a platter in Ragusa -  though both are the work of artists in Caltagirone, a town famous for its ceramics, on the east side of the island - that had subtle colourings and simple almost primitive designs but still, I find, had echos of some of the antique patterns of Siciliana.  

I bought this plate in Erice however it was produced by Giacomo Alessi in his workshop in Caltagirone near Catania.  The town is renowned for its ceramics and Alessi is one of the better known artists in the field.  What attracted me was those pomegranates - they are as exuberant and as light hearted as the island itself.
This piece is also from a studio in Caltagirone though again bought in another part of the island.  Francesco Boria is perhaps better known for his pieces in the antique baroque style so this subtle use of the green and simple line drawing is surprising when compared to much of his work.
Equally fascinating are the ceramics of Agosto Fiorito who works in miniatures as part of an artisan collective on Via Bara all’Olivella in Palermo. His ceramics have a charming naivety and his creation of presepi has led him to adapted the multitude of small items that fill the scenes of these traditional Nativity scenes and turned them into, of all things, fridge magnets.  Taking his inspiration from the rich world of the Sicilian kitchen he has platters of sea food, pasteria trays of dolci and paper cones of the fresh vegetable on the shelves of his clutter corner of this wonderfully atmospheric shop.

Agosto Fiorito's miniature ceramics - a left click will show them in actual size - are tiny representations of the riches of the farms, seas and pastry shops of Sicilia.  Those vegetabls would made a wonderful caponata and the casatte and canoli look good enough to eat.
Fortunately Fiorito's little gems will pack easy and may well find their way into various Christmas stockings as a reminder of the time spent here  The other pieces are going to require some special handling so I'll have a few words with the movers and Sant'Anna, their patron saint, to make sure they arrive back in Canada in one piece.

28 maggio - San Just
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Debra She Who Seeks said...

I've always been intrigued by miniatures. So tiny and yet so perfect!

yvette said...

Looking for HFH news I discovered these dainty pomegranates among other beauties. I hope all these fragile items arrived safely. And I read all about the precaution taken for Nora and Nicky 's journey to Ottawa. That's fine and answered all my questioning about them!