Lidia Carlini, ceramic artist from Faenza, provides a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional ritual objects that have been shadowed by time. We met her recently and asked her some questions to learn more about her work and her poetics.
First Drops: Over the years, a lot of people have written about you in association to exhibitions or in interviews and reviews…. Which of them, do you think, has most effectively described your work?
Lidia Carlini: Whenever someone writes about me they usually meet me before they do. Whoever writes something about me has had the opportunity to get to know me and “delve into“ my work. The final result means that I don’t really have any preferences, I am grateful to all those who have described me in simple terms and… very kindly!
PE: What encouraged you to dedicate your time to ceramic art and what does it mean to you?
LC: I grew up in a “house of ceramics”. Friends and family were very much inclined and sensitive towards the world of art and especially towards ceramics. I attended the “G.Ballardini” Art Institute for Ceramics in Faenza for eight years and was awarded a post-graduate degree in Restoration. It was 1979, and just before ending the course I opened my own art studio. My training, the teachers, both have been essential in the development of my research. Restoring a ceramic object means digging into the past and acting in the present in order for it to continue to live in the future. Ceramic is my passion that I have turned into my profession. It is made of technique, experience, creative freedom and patience… it is head, hand and heart.
PE: Which aspects of your work do you love most?
LC: The planning and operating part, the creative freedom and… opening the oven!
PE: Which difficulties have you encountered?
LC: Life is made of hardships and pleasure, just like my work is. I think I have learned to face issues as they arise. The mind has to be clear… otherwise there is just darkness. It is a difficult exercise.
PE: Which themes inspire your artistic research? How do you develop them or do they change in time?
LC: I am attracted and motivated by everyday or past events and objects, their history and the change they have endured in time. I like to elaborate them, bring them back, refresh them, send them into the future, sometimes changing their initial function.
PE: Which past exhibitions or projects have gratified you most?
LC: Every event or project has its history and represents, for better or for worse, an experience, a stage, evolution.
PE: Can you think of an anecdote about your works?
LC: There are a lot…too many to tell here…however they are more associated to me than to my work.
PE: Can you tell us something about your research on the impagliata, where does it come from, what is it?
LC: The impagliata or the childbirth dinner set is a traditional ceramic gift. It belongs to a rite or custom whereby a set was given to a new mother for her first meal after childbirth. The shape is that of a series of containers that can be piled up to make a single body. The object is as fascinating as the story it tells. I have reviewed its shape and developed it so that it can contain food. Evolution starts in the moment in which the mind changes an eggcup into a coffee cup…… when the totem becomes a set for a single person. This is how JO-VA da Jolanda a Valter is born. In the game where the pieces are piled up and shuffled around, shapes and ideas multiply and they become tall coloured towers, sets for a couple, sets for single people piled up to make a “bonsai”, enclosed in a sculpture like a seed… until finally there is the cinerary urn, as though to close the cycle of life.
Planning, creating, playing and the feeling that…it will never end.
PE: Do you like working on demand or do prefer to work based on a set project?
LC: Working on commission for a client is almost mandatory in order to survive…I always try to add “my touch” to ensure I am more motivated. In any case I don’t like it. I prefer to work on my projects, propose them, share them with the public and, why not, find confirmation of the result achieved.
PE: How do you like to relate with your clients?
LC: I don’t think I’m good at it, I don’t like “having to convince”…
PE: What is your dream for the future?
LC: To live peacefully, bake ceramic and food and meet the sensitive nature of someone who estimates my work and wants to propose it to the public on my behalf.