In Tuscany, just 40 minutes from Florence, exists one of the most renowned towns for ceramic tradition: Montelupo Fiorentino.
A perfect destination for a stay if you are an art lover, Montelupo boasts 7 centuries of artistic production in the field of ceramics, thanks above all to its proximity to Florence and the presence of the river Arno that flows into the city and that since 1200 has allowed clay extraction.
My adventure with Cèramica began a month ago: I was contacted to implement the strategy and the aesthetics of their Instagram profile@montelupo_ceramic and to go to Montelupo Fiorentino as the official photographer for the International Festa della Cèramica.
The theme of the 26th Festa della Cèramica, that was held from July 15th to 17th in Montelupo, was “The Ceramic of the daily life”. The exploration, therefore, of ceramic as an object of the present, which certainly honors ancient traditions but is now more alive than ever.
The village of Montelupo Fiorentino: a true gem of Tuscan ceramic
Getting lost in the streets and shops of Montelupo village is just like getting lost in Candy Land: different colors, shapes, and designs capture the eyes and the spirit.
The village shops can be visited all year round. The locals are always ready to welcome people who come to Montelupo to discover the ancient art of Tuscan ceramics.
The colorful Montelupo is the home of Italian Majolica, a production of ceramic vases that involves the coating of porous and opaque material.
The Ceramic Museum of Montelupo
The heart of the Tuscan country is undoubtedly the Museum of Ceramics, conceived in the early ’70s following the discovery of a well that proved to be an important archeological deposit as an ex-dump of the kilns, but officially inaugurated in 1983.
The museum traces in an archaeological key all the finds from various historical periods. I was particularly struck by The Red of Montelupo, “a particular red pigment used in decoration, whose composition is still a mystery today.”
Every first Sunday of the month visitors can get in free.
The Ceramics of Montelupo
During our stay the town of Montelupo kindly took us to explore the heart of Montelupo ceramics. A few minutes from the center are among the most famous ceramics of the country, which present photographic opportunities to no end!
The first pottery we visited was Ceramiche d’Arte Dolfi by Ivana Antonini, a very nice lady dedicated to carrying on her tradition with passion and tenacity.
A peculiarity of Ivana’s Ceramic Company is giving great space to female creativity, since in the past, for centuries, women were not considered worthy as male ceramists.
I got lost among the thousand colors, vases, lathes and I strongly suggest you visit Ivana if you come from Montelupo. I would define her style very extrovert, almost baroque, with a great attention to balancing games.
La seconda ceramica che abbiamo visitato è stata Terracotte di Corradini e Rinaldi, dove non soltanto abbiamo visto moltissimi professionisti all’opera ma abbiamo anche guardare per la prima volta all’interno di un forno per ceramiche.
The second pottery we visited was Terracotte di Corradini and Rinaldi, where not only we saw many professionals at work but we also got the opportunity or the first time to look inside a ceramic oven.
The Tuscan city of Montelupo Fiorentino represents the Ceramics traditions
The reason why I arrived in town was to document through photography the exhibitions and events in the city of Montelupo during the 26th Festa della Ceramica. It was challenging (given the maaany events!) but also very fun.
I first wanna introduce Andrea Salvatori’s masterpiece “Il Grande Testone”, a reversed head of David (symbol of Florence), enlarged and filled with goldfishes. A clear invitation for visitors to interact with the statue since one of the main core ideas of Salvatori is precisely that art should always dialogue with the surrounding environment.
The city of Montelupo has then honored Michelangelo Pistoletto with an installation of 15×5 meters that recalls the Third Paradise, re-creating the symbol of infinity ∞ through ceramic.
The whole city was super busy: the locals came out to the streets, and visitors came from all over Europe to rediscover the typical ceramics of Montelupo.
The recovery of abandoned buildings
As I have already explained to you in this article about my beloved abandoned hotel Al Bersagliere, I’m a sucker for run-down buildings. They touch me very deeply.
The work that was done to symbolically revive the former Fanciullacci Factory really touched me. Photographs of the former artisans, the ceramics of Montelupo and the key concepts of Cèramica (such as color, technique, recovery) were projected onto the building walls, and the whole show was accompanied by a mix of recorded voices of the villagers remembering the Fanciullacci and tech music. Needless to say that tears were pouring over my camera! It was a very powerful installation.
The former cinema Risorti
This evocative space not only hosted several shows of the first Ceramic Performance Festival, but also a part of the About a Vase exhibition of which I’ll speak a few paragraphs below.
But the former cinema, as you can see in the picture, would be worth a visit alone, given its degrading beauty.
FORMAE Market Exhibition: the excellence of Design and Craftsmanship made in Italy
I went wild to photograph the works of art on sale at FORMAE market exhibition in Viale Umberto I, curated by the talented Federica Preto. I wanted to bring everything home!
Here you will find a complete gallery of all the photographs from the Market Exhibition.
In particular, the ceramists who spoke the most to my personality and my style were:
- Studio 17. Piercings, bees, alligators, airplanes. Pure genius.
- Le terre storte of Elisa Betti, who also teaches courses and workshops in the Como area. Materic.
- Maria Grazia Pulvirenti: with her leaves-bowls gives us a design object destined to be successful. Colorful and fun.
Inside the Ateliers, always curated by Federica Preto, whose task was to re-elaborate traditional tales like The Beauty and the Beast or the Snow Queen, the installations that impressed me most were:
- The worlds of Camilla of Laboratorio Terrarte.
- The ceramist who has reworked the tale of Edward Scissorhands.
ABOUT A VASE
The exhibition About a Vase also continues at the Priory of San Lorenzo, a magical place surrounded by centuries-old olive trees. The Prioria is a 15-minute walk from the Ceramics Museum (if you do not fear a little hill!), or a 3-minute drive.
The landscape from here is spectacular and the atmosphere is very relaxed, away from the bustle and hustle of the city. I highly recommend a stop if you are passing by Montelupo.
MondialTornianti on Tour: challenges and vases
The most anticipated event of the event this year has undoubtedly been MondialTornianti, an exciting competition that lasted two days and involved the artisans from all over the world in technical, aesthetic and speed challenges.
The master potters have enchanted us in the European Union Square with their manual skills and, some of them, have also distributed “fresh” to the delighted spectators.
Inspiration and technique. Looking at these artists, I could not help feeling a little envy (in a healthy way): their ability and their determination to carry on their traditions truly makes them honorable.
During the days of Cèramica 2018, there have been tons of performances, which animated the city night and day. Montelupo has come to life thanks to all the artists present in the city: not only ceramists but dancers, actors, performers, and musicians.
“Spazio X Tempo”: Marco Bagnoli’s Atelier
The spaces of Atelier Spazio x Tempo (Space x Time) were conceived and realized in continuous dialogue with the surrounding Tuscan environment, through the use of ceramics and natural materials such as wood, which covers most of the exhibition halls.
Since the Atelier is just outside Montelupo and is surrounded by vineyards, I recommend you not miss the sunset from here. A nice opportunity for my fellow photographers to explore a place of high design and at the same time enjoy a breathtaking view.
That’s all folks! I hope I made you fall in love with Ceramic as much as I felt for it this month. Here you can find the Instagram profile of Montelupo Ceramics in case you wanna see the work we’ve done in these last weeks.
For me, it was a great honor to take part in this creative and stimulating event. I sincerely thank Silvia Lami, Head of Communication and Press Office of the Municipality of Montelupo Fiorentino, and Ella Agency for this wonderful experience. To follow all the developments of Cèramica 2019 please head over to official website. I hope to see you all again next year and to come back soon to Montelupo!
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