I’ve just come back from a week in Turin. I immensely enjoyed the city. It’s lively, friendly, easy going and there is so much happening. Apparently the city administration decided to step change the image of Turin when the place hosted the Winter Olympics in 2006 and has never stopped investing in culture and quality events. Even more so this year, 2011, the year of Italy’s 150th anniversary.
Italian flags were waving from all the balconies, softening the severe look of Turin’s ancient building and giving to the whole place a festive look. Each museum and city attraction had organized its own special event to celebrate the Risorgimento, the political and military movement that led to the unification of Italy, and the city key role in its success.
To make the most out of my days in Turin I had a carefully planned out schedule, a balanced mix of art, sightseeing and good food (of course!). And when it comes to art, ceramics are always on top of my mind! Here you go: a short but juicy report of Italian pottery in Turin 2011.
Caltagirone was founded as early as the 2nd century B.C. on a steep hill made of clay. The abundance and the good quality of the raw material encouraged the making of pottery and its trade.
First the Romans, then the Greeks, the Arabs, the Spanish and the Normans dominated the city, bringing in their traditional designs and techniques which merged into a unique ceramic production and one of the most distinctive Sicilian pottery traditions.
The Nativity figures were certainly part of the local production already during the Middle Age, as reported in many documents, although no actual example has ever been found due to the terrible earthquake that destroyed the city in 1693.
However, it can be argued that no proper artistic production took place before the 18th century. At this time the more talented potters started to make hand modeled freestanding figures that represented not only the key characters in the Nativity crib, but also the local characters in their daily tasks: the cheese maker, the hunter, the shepherd and so on.
The Real world became part of the Sacred world, carrying into the Nativity Scene the ever changing social scenario, the attitude of people, their everyday clothes and even their common gestures.