p1020681Last night I attended the opening of ARTour, which can best be described as a Tuscan artisans’ itinerary. Work in various media by contemporary artisans is displayed in unusual locations: an antique carpet dealer, a restaurant, an enoteca, and a gourmet panino shop. The opening was attended mostly by members of the press, politicians, and artists, from what I could tell. Not many spent long looking at the art, perhaps distracted by the excellent little sandwiches, wine, and cheese served by the folks from ‘Ino.

Of the works on display by various artists at Galleria Michail, I liked the ceramics best, although there was some impressive marble inlay work and some cut lead crystal. A series of white “holey” vases caught my eye in particular. These works are tradtional containing shapes (vases, containers with lids) rendered useless by being patterned by circular openings that would let out any liquids or objects put inside.
ARTour proposes that you follow the itinerary of four locations. My favourite pieces are those by Paola Staccioli displayed at La Bottega da ‘Ino (Via dei Georgofili, open 11-17 daily). I had the opportunity to meet the artist and talk to her about her delicate ceramic objects. Paola (born in ’72) is the daughter of Florentine ceramic artist Paolo Staccioli, and their works do have some similarities in their construction and even subject matter. She came to ceramics without specific training in the arts, and learned from her father and on her own.

Paola's hand-made ceramics
Paola’s hand-made ceramics

Paola’s pieces are particularly fine, light, and fun. I asked Paola about her Tuscan roots and influences, and she struggled to find an aspect of Tuscany that inspires her art in particular, other than light and colour. Indeed, while Tuscan and Marchegian ceramicists often work in traditional shapes and patterns that appeal to the international market, Paola’s pieces are real “art ceramics”. These original objects bear the marks of handiwork – the imperfections, the shapes that are intentionally natural rather than geometric, the slip that reveals a bit of clay beneath. Their fine construction recall contemporary Japanese ceramics, while the patterns themselves vary in their references. Paola generates a metallic finish during the second baking of the maiolica, the results of which are impredictable and unevently distributed on the objects. Some of the flatter pieces have patterning that reminds me of 13th century archaic ware, while the more plastic works’ whimsical animal forms recall Etruscan ware.

On display for the ARTour are small objects – tea cups, bowls, and some of her “impratical tea-pots” – appropriate to the location. They are all for sale and would make a wonderful, original artistic Christmas gift.

Feel free to wander into any of the ARTour Locations – you do not have to eat or buy anything!
INFO: www.artex.firenze.it

More photos on TuscanyArts ‘s Flickr page

LOCATIONS in Florence:

Galleria Michail
Via dei Fossi, 44-46 r
Open: 10-13/ 15:30-19
Oggetti della tradizione dell’artigianato artistico toscano

Via dei Georgofili, 3-7 r
Open: 11-17
Le Ceramiche di Paola Staccioli

Ora d’Aria Ristorante
via Ghibellina, 3/c r
Open: 14-24
La Cartapesta di Enrico Paolucci

Il santo Bevitore enoteca gastronomia
Via santo Spirito, 66r
Open: 12:30-14:30/ 19:30-23 (closed Sunday Lunch)
Le Ceramiche di Bruno Gambone.

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