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Homo Faber spotlights 12 master artisans who are upholding rare and traditional craftsmanship skills

How should we preserve human skills in the modern world? Through knowledge, understanding, appreciation and recognition. This exhibition acknowledges the craftspeople pursuing age-old techniques rarely used today and their unique place in the world of fine craftsmanship

Singular Talents - The Red List rendering - ©Architetti Pedron_La Tegola

• In St Petersburg, Denis Shcherbakov handcrafts miniature historical figures from tin and delicately hand paints them

• In Paris, Jean-Pierre Cottet-Dubreuil creates silver cutlery according to traditional techniques honoured by five generations of silversmiths

• In Somerset, Kate Hetherington handcrafts English leather carriage driving harnesses and collars respecting age-old savoir-faire

This September visitors to Homo Faber in Venice will have the chance to get a rare glimpse into the world of 12 precious European artisans in the exhibition Singular Talents – The Red List, curated by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship.

In our technological world where mass manufacture is rife and even precious objects can be replicated, this exhibition highlights the human value behind the crafting of objects. The craftspeople featured in this exhibition are rare for the crafts they are dedicating themselves to; either they are using little-known techniques or rare materials confined to a specific region; perhaps they are the only person left in their region continuing a traditional skill; or perhaps they are a talented young artisan breathing new life into a profession that until now has been the exclusive domain of old masters.

Visitors will discover these unique talents by way of specially commissioned videos by Swiss filmmaker Thibault Vallotton, mounted in the exhibition space as though in a portrait gallery. A ballet of gestures, faces, places and wonderful objects, the films will take visitors inside and around the workshops of these European artisans to observe the incredible techniques they have mastered, the places that inspire them and the beautiful works they create. Drawing back the curtain on the ways these craftspeople are developing to safeguard these precious crafts for the future.

The theme of the exhibition, the “Red List of endangered crafts”, is inspired by – and has been developed with - the Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), capitalising on their already existing Red List of Endangered Crafts, which highlights crafts in the United Kingdom that are at risk of disappearing. Expanding on this concept, the Michelangelo Foundation’s Red List has been conceived by working with the Foundation’s own international network, and will cover a meaningful selection of European crafts considered to be not only rare, but also close to extinction. By shining a light on lesser-known European craftspeople, their unique narratives and techniques, the exhibition hopes to inspire renewed appreciation, recognition and passion for these treasurable artisans.

“Valuing the rich patrimony of these skills, perpetuates the beauty of an artistic gesture. It builds a bridge between the past and future.” Alberto Cavalli, Executive Co-Director of Michelangelo Foundation.

Kate Hetherington Artisan - ©Andrew Hobbs Singular Talents – The Red List is set in the Photography Hall at Fondazione Giorgio Cini. It is one of 17 exhibitions that comprise Homo Faber, organised by the Michelangelo Foundation.

Notes for editors
Homo Faber
Crafting a more human future
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
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Homo Faber is the main event organised by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, an international non-profit organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, which was set up to celebrate and preserve master craftsmanship around the world and strengthen its connection to design. Rooted in a tradition of culture and excellence and in the realities and challenges of today’s global economy, the foundation aims to support those who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of master craftsmanship and to foster a new cultural movement built around the values that are essential for their work. The Foundation focuses on Europe as a starting point for its activities, in recognition that craftsmanship has been a vital part of the economic and cultural fabric of the region for centuries, providing both a rich heritage and a competitive advantage in a global world.

Thibault Vallotton
Swiss film producer Thibault Vallotton born in 1987, studied cinema at L’ECAL, Lausanne, where he came into contact with inspiring figures and learnt the basics of film production. He discovered the world of the applied arts through his work with Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship. His series of 12 artisan portraits commissioned for Homo Faber 2018 is shortlisted by The International Film Festival for Fine Craft (FIFMA). Thibault approaches artisan profiles with a documentary style, inspired by the work of Errol Morris, Frederick Wiseman and Chantal Akerman.

Architetti Pedron / La Tegola
Apml Architecture studio was founded in 2009 in Venice by Alessandro Pedron and Maria La Tegola. Both graduated in architecture at the Università Iuav in Venice and started their professional activities in 1996. The city’s rich historical beginnings gave them the chance to focus their attention on the history and context behind the projects, enhancing their capacities thanks to the initial collaboration in the restoration of historical buildings. The professional experience of the studio and the constant search for original design solutions is utilised in different projects including heritage ones, new buildings, exhibition design projects, and interior design.

Collaborating on Homo Faber with the Michelangelo Foundation are partner organisations that share its vision including: the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, and The Japan Foundation.

Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte
The Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte is a private, non-profit institution founded in 1995. Based in Milan, it promotes cultural, scientific and educational initiatives for the protection and diffusion of artistic crafts. The Fondazione Cologni’s mission is to inspire a “new Renaissance” of the artistic crafts and rescue them from the threat of extinction. Many of its initiatives focus on young people and training future generations of artisans.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini
The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is a non-profit cultural institution based in Venice, Italy. Established by Vittorio Cini in 1951 with the aim of creating an international cultural centre re-integrating the San Giorgio Maggiore Island into the life of Venice and the region, today it is an important centre of humanistic studies and encourages the creation and development of educational, social, cultural and artistic institutions in the surrounding territory.

The Japan Foundation
The Japan Foundation, established in 1972, in Tokyo develops international cultural exchange programmes globally. The foundation’s aim is to promote Japanese culture to the world through programmes and activities in the following categories: art, cultural exchange, Japanese-language education and Japanese studies. The foundation has a global network, with 25 overseas branches in 24 countries. As part of their cultural programme, the foundation offers successful applicants support in the form of grants, research scholarships and training opportunities.

Kate Hetherington Artisan_Thibault Vallotton©Michelangelo Foundation Kate Hetherington Artisan©Andrew Hobbs Kate Hetherington Artisan©Andrew Hobbs Singular Talents_The Red List_Rendering©Architetti Pedron La Tegola