Did you know that artisans in the Volterra region of Italy have been working with alabaster for more than three thousand years? Or that gilding leather has been a tradition in the northern Netherlands since the 17th century? Discover the rich artisanal heritage that inspires contemporary European craftsmanship in this fascinating showcase of hundreds of objects made by over 150 artist-artisans working across the continent today. Wonderfully displayed in an exhibit designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, each object has been conceived and made by a single creative talent who draws on the traditional techniques and materials of their homeland to create contemporary works. Together, these fascinating objects paint a picture of Europe, reflecting the rich culture, history, landscape, knowledge and skills that make up this diverse continent.
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Just as an accent links a person to a place, or a fine wine reflects its terroir, so these works echo the DNA of the very earth where they were created. In County Galway, Ireland, an artisan continues the area’s long-held tradition of basketweaving by making contemporary baskets from the willow trees around Loch na Fooey. In Ubrique, Spain, a master leatherworker designs and makes innovative leather objects using his village’s old stone streets as a mould. Each of these artist-artisans has immense respect for the past while striving to develop and innovate, taking ancient skills with them into the future.
Let yourself be taken on a journey through craftsmanship and around Europe, from silver in Switzerland to glass in Germany, paper in Denmark, ceramics in Portugal and porcelain in Poland. See the shell-like creations of an Icelandic artisan working with local felt. Discover the larger-than-life flowers made by a sculptor in the Netherlands who is inspired by the paintings of a 17th century Dutch artist. Witness the contemporary lampworking sculptures of a master artisan born and bred on the famous glassmaking island of Murano.
Visitors can discover exactly what it takes to create exceptional works by observing selected artist-artisans working right in front of them. Watch a violin-maker or a mosaic artist, a metalworker or a mask-maker, an embroiderer or a milliner, among others, as they demonstrate the fine skills and fascinating techniques that go into their creations. You’ll come away with a new appreciation of the diversity of European craftsmanship and the contemporary talents preserving the continent’s fascinating traditions.
Italian architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri is one of the world’s leaders in his field. A professor of urban planning at the Politenico in Milan, he has also been a guest professor at universities around the world including Harvard Graduate School of Design in the US. He founded a studio in Milan in 1999 and later opened a second in Shanghai. He has authored many books and is the former editor-in-chief of the magazines Domus and Abitare. In 2018 he was appointed chairman of the Triennale in Milan.
Jean Blanchaert is a Belgian-Italian gallerist, antiquarian and artist. For the past 30 years he has run his family’s gallery in Milan, which specialises in glass, ceramics, enamel and contemporary materials. He has curated numerous exhibitions and writes about design for the monthly Art e Dossier and other publications. He is also a talented illustrator, calligrapher and glass sculptor in his own right. He has illustrated for children’s books, newspapers, cultural initiatives and theatre projects, and his work has been exhibited in Milan several times.