Ceramiche Alessi Caltagirone
Alessi Ceramiche is the fruit of Giacomo Alessi’s creative genius: he is a master craftsman but above all a true creative genius who has succeeded in re-writing the aesthetic rules of the Caltagirone ceramic tradition with an artistic approach. What is your history and your philosophy?
Giacomo Alessi: “I didn’t become what I am now through studying. I’ve always followed my talent in reinterpreting the art of ceramics in my own way. I started to become interested in the world of craftsmanship when I was still a boy, making a virtue out of necessity.
Learning a trade, creating a style that was all my own was a necessity more than anything else, back then in the early Eighties, in order to meet the needs of the labour market of the time.
My work is enriched by the Arab, Norman and Aragonese cultural heritage, but above all by that of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The roof of the church of San Donato was a great source of inspiration for me because, as Carlo Levi points out in his writings about the South of Italy, it was “the Sistine chapel of ceramics”.
At the same time, I’ve always looked to distant cultures, to Chinese culture with its 10,000 years of artistic and cultural heritage. My intention has always been to paraphrase the lofty message contained in the works I’ve always been inspired by, in order to make it comprehensible to my public. Mine is a humble craft; my works are intended above all to be useful and to be linked to the time in which they are made.
I like to think that my creations can be compared to the great Sicilian tradition of story-telling, “U’ Cunto” in dialect. Just like the stories people used to listen to at home in front of the fire. Stories persist in my work, where you can find poetry by Ludovico Ariosto about anthropomorphic heads, as well as Leonardo Sciascia’s stories imbued with Sicily, and Mimmo Cuticchio’s ‘Puppet theatre’ story-telling.”
Rosso Cinabro – Bottega d’Arte Siciliana
Biagio Castilletti e Damiano Rotella
Rosso Cinabro is the story of two great craftsmen, Biagio Castilletti and Damiano Rotella, who carry on the art of the traditional Sicilian Carretto, or cart, using all their rare knowledge and expertise. What are your roots, your history and your wings, your future plans?
Biagio Castilletti: “We both spent time as youngsters, though at different times, in the workshop of the same master painter, Domenico Di Mauro. Working as an errand boy in a craftsman’s workshop is the only way to learn a trade that is so closely linked to a specific set of skills and is fast becoming extinct. It’s unlikely that a lad nowadays would be willing to sacrifice years in an apprenticeship, but we were driven by passion and we weren’t afraid of making sacrifices.
After several years as errand boys, we both opened our own shops and became, in our turn, workshop masters. Unlike people from other times, though, we never felt any jealousy towards the competitors: on the contrary, we sought out each other’s work to compare ourselves and help one another.”
Damiano Rotella: “One day someone commissioned us to do a big, very important job that we decided to do together. We joined forces and accepted the commission, very willingly. It was a cart that required a year’s work but it made our fortune.
The quality of the cart spoke for us: it was our visiting card. Our commissions multiplied and we decided to join our workshops together under a single name. Now our aim is to preserve this Sicilian art, extending its reach as far as possible, teaching it to anyone who’s interested, so that what seemed like a trade on the way out can find new lifeblood.”