Interview with Patrizia Italiano:
FG: What’s unique about your work?
Patrizia: My pottery is inspired by a life suspended between the places I love most, and the places where I live my daily life. My Sicily: my dreams, my nightmares, the things I love and those I hate. I like imagining stories and giving life to the objects and characters, so immersed in their own environment and cultural context. My market traders are born of irony, from strolling through Palermo’s food markets and observing people, from hearing the made-up chants of the vendors shouting about their goods. Their gestures and body language, their physical features, formed by all the different conquerors that have ruled Sicily down the ages, each leaving their mark. Palermo’s markets are full of history and tales, of streets buzzing with artisans and crafters, of old buildings and palaces that blend with the market stalls. I wish to recreate in clay the same traits, colours, chants and wares of the vendors, who smirk back at me even as I shape their features. The same is true of Filicudi itself, one of the Aeolian islands where I live several months a year. The island is complicit in my life: a magical place that I love dearly and that I bring inside me, with its colours, smells, and infinite landscapes; its sunsets and old stone paths. The dark, blue-green sea-light triggers images of submerged worlds of fish, crabs, shells, dolphins…and mermaids!
FG: What do you want people to do or feel when they encounter your creations?
Patrizia: I would love to believe that the people who buy and use my pottery and my creations could hear the ancient voice of Sicily, the history that pervades the island; and that by looking at and touching them, they could lose themselves in this ancient and fascinating world of mine. The chaos and the silence, the culture, the beauty and the decadence – all the contradictions which characterise my world and live inside me.
FG: What is your favorite material to work with?
Patrizia: I love all types of clay; I love touching them and getting my hands dirty, feeling their harsh textures and the ways they transform through sophisticated chemical processes. I love opening the kiln and witnessing the transformation process; seeing, each time, a new creation come into the world from clay – an old miracle which repeats itself in the history of all the ages.
FG: What motivates and inspires you?
Patrizia: I get my inspiration from my inner journey and my deeper self: An idea may spring to life from a dream, or from a personal or ethical motivation; from an encounter or a collision… There are countless possibilities, and creativity is like a wild plant which sprouts up everywhere and overruns, which sometimes invades you so much that it requires shaping and tidying.
FG: What funny moments, unexpected surprises, or obstacles have you encountered?
Patrizia: The work of an artisan is often full of bureaucratic hurdles and legal entanglements related to the workplace. I shut down my first enterprise ten years ago – swamped, like many others, by the 2008/2009 financial crisis. Now, after a long break, I have opened a studio. Governments should put mechanisms in place to support artists and their activities, which contribute so much to the culture of a place and make it unique. There cannot be a true identity for the people without artists and craftsmen.
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